Aboriginal BEST Trainers

Aboriginal Business & Entrepreneurship Skills Training Program

Twenty Indigenous women have been trained to deliver the Canadian Centre for Aboriginal Entrepreneurship (CCAE) Aboriginal Business & Entrepreneurship Skills Training program (Aboriginal BEST) to other Indigenous women in their regions. The Aboriginal BEST program is a free training program designed to support Indigenous entrepreneurship, and includes training on building a business plan, marketing, financing, and operations.

In partnership with CCAE, the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) will deliver a culturally relevant gender based skills development and training program to underemployed and unemployed Indigenous women across Canada.

The Aboriginal BEST program has a formal curriculum and offers supports and tools to help nurture the entrepreneurial spirit of people, communities, and organizations. Participants will meet guest speakers, identify viable business ideas, determine the feasibility of those business ideas, and take steps to start or grow financing options on their journey to successful self-employment. This initiative will include business coaching and ongoing mentoring for up to 6 months following completion of the Aboriginal BEST for Women program and is intended for First Nations, Metis and Inuit regardless of status who are interested in becoming self-employed or starting their own business. BEST benefits Indigenous women in all stages of business development who want to turn their dreams into reality.

These 20 Indigenous women returned to their home regions, and will deliver one ten day long Aboriginal BEST training session in their own or surrounding communities by January 31, 2019. Each session will include ten unemployed or underemployed Indigenous women.

2018 Aboriginal BEST Trainers

Devon Fiddler 
Saskatoon, SK

Devon Fiddler is a Cree woman of Waterhen Lake First Nation, SK. Devon has a B.A. in Aboriginal Public Administration from the University of Saskatchewan and completed numerous leadership, entrepreneurship and business certificate programs. Devon is the Chief Changemaker of SheNative, a lifestyle brand that elevates Indigenous women. Devon has earned seed funding for her company through numerous grants, business competitions, loans, and crowdfunding campaigns. Devon received numerous awards such as the 2015 CBC Future 40 Under 40 designation, 2015 Start-up Canada Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, the 2016 YWCA Women of Distinction Award Under 29 category and is a top 5 SheEO Venture of 2016.

Angela Pratt
Regina, SK

Angela Pratt is a band member of Muscowpetung Saulteaux Nation located near Regina, SK. Angela completed her Bachelor of Administration, with a concentration in Marketing, in 2005 from the University of Regina/First Nations University of Canada. Her next academic goal is to pursue the Master of Business Administration designation. Angela has been working with the First Nations since she completed her degree. Angela has worked with Raven Consortium, Touchwood/Yorkton Tribal Council Child and Family Services, Yorkton Tribal Council Executive Office, SaskTel and Muscowpetung Saulteaux Nation. Currently, she works for FHQ Developments as the Economic Development and Business Advisor and has held the position since November 2011. Angela’s career aspirations have been focused on supporting the advancement and success of First Nations communities and as such, has joined the SFNEDN team as a board member. Angela is the proud mother of two boys and currently resides in Regina, SK.

Anita Large 
Penticton, BC

Anita Large, of the Saddle Lake Cree Nation, in Alberta, has worked with numerous organizations and small businesses internationally, nationally, provincially and locally. She holds a degree in International Studies from the University of Saskatchewan, and a certificate in Executive Management from Queens University School of Business Executive Program. She has 15 years experience running and owning small businesses, and also worked for the Indigenous 2000 project (in Ecuador), Visions Marketing, Aboriginal Youth Network, Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC), Calgary Urban Aboriginal Initiative (CUAI), Royal Bank of Canada, Theytus Books, and Penticton Whole Foods Market to name a few.


Charlene Rumbolt 
Mary’s Harbour, NL

Charlene Rumbolt is an Inuk from the South Coast of Labrador. Although she was born and raised in Ontario, her heart and soul is connected to the land. She moved to Labrador in 2010 where she currently lives.  She is a registered Inuit Artist and produces a variety of items; fine art paintings, textile art and traditional crafts. She is also a skilled facilitator and has run hundreds of workshops on a variety of subjects. Charlene has a strong business background with experience managing various businesses in both food services and retail sales. She currently holds a diploma in Graphic Arts and Small Business Applications along with a B.A. in Psychology.

Teyotsihstokwáthe Dakota Brant
Oshwé:ken, ON

Teyotsihstokwáthe Dakota Brant (Mohawk, Turtle Clan) is a social entrepreneur, established international speaker & advocate for the Indigenous place in the face of global change. Born, raised & residing in Six Nations of the Grand River Territory, she is Founder/CEO of Sapling & Flint, a lifestyle brand that shares authentic Haudenosaunee designs with a portion of profits going to language revitalization and community needs in Grand River. She has over 500 engagements under her belt as a facilitator, MC & lecturer and ambassador for Haudenosaunee culture, the arts and Indigenous issues around the world. She is a former Miss Indian World, and an Indspire Youth Laureate. She holds a Master’s in Community Planning from UBC, and is a proud volunteer firefighter with the Six Nations Fire & Emergency Services. www.DakotaBrant.com

Heather Black
Calgary, AB

As an Indigenous professional who is charismatic and dedicated in building inclusion in the Indigenous community. As the owner of Creative Spirit Solutions, Heather dedicates her time working with both aspiring entrepreneurs and to our future leaders, the youth. Providing facilitation expertise to both the Education and Business Development sectors, Heather has been able to contribute a well-rounded skill set to both of her audiences. Heather enjoys being the go-to resource, always interested in hearing from former colleagues and building new networks. Also a member of the Treaty 7, Kainaiwa Nation, Heathers hobbies include #Indigenousadventurelady exploring the Canadian Rockies and #Indigenouspower promoting an healthy active lifestyle. “Life is about opportunity, just living in the moment and grabbing hold of all life’s precious opportunities.”

Please check out https://creativespiritsolutions.com/

Karen White
Victoria, BC

Karen White is Northern Salish, Haudenosaunee and Chippewa. Certified as an Instructor at the University of British Columbia she moved to Zimbabwe in the 1980’s teach.  Certified in Aboriginal Employment Development by the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies in the early 2000’s Karen has worked in Indigenous communities from Vancouver Island, Vancouver, and throughout the Yukon. She coordinated BEST for the BC Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation for seven years and was integral in establishing the acclaimed Annual BC Indigenous Business Awards. She has created and widely delivered an Indigenous Intercultural Competency course and is passionate about delivering BEST.

Samantha Tenasco
Kitigan Zibi, QC

Samantha Tenasco, Algonquin-Anishinabe from Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg is the owner of a new events company named Nibina Event Co. which aims to increase inclusion for Algonquin culture in events for the Ottawa-Gatineau, National Capital Region. Areas of her business service cultural/language educational works for public groups, professional events management with Algonquin culture, catering, and advisory for inclusion for Algonquin people/projects. She is a certified Aboriginal BEST Trainer and has education in Business Administration – HRM and Events Management. Hobbies include hockey, broomball, softball and volunteering with local Pow Wow committee. Languages include English fluency, conversational Algonquin and French.

Shari Caudron
Hay River, NT

Shari Caudron, President/CEO of Collaborative Innovations Inc., is a professional Community Development Facilitator, born and raised in Hay River, Northwest Territories. Her expertise is in building innovative partnerships between First Nations, government, industry, community and educational institutions for economic development, employment readiness and social development.  With over twenty years experience in public relations and business development,  Shari’s  passion is to empower communities to work in partnership  to develop and implement long term strategies for community wellness and economic development.

Therese Willoughby
Thunder Bay, ON

Tracey brings a wealth of experience in education, training and leadership as well as management, economic development, Project Management, Business Counselling and Enhanced Management Development. With proven research, proposal development, program and policy development as well as extensive experience engaging first nation people Tracey aims to actively assist First Nation individuals and communities build capacity. A member of Whitesand First Nations, Tracey is a strong believer that education, strong governance, economic and business development will enhance the social economic opportunities and quality of life for aboriginal people and future generations. Through the Aboriginal BEST training, Tracey will facilitate, engage and inspire the entrepreneur spirit within.


Katina Cochrane
Koostatak, MB

Katina Cochrane is from Peguis First Nation. She graduated from the University of Winnipeg with a Bachelor Arts Degree in Political Science and Indigenous Governance. Katina has gained extensive experience facilitating Restorative Justice workshops and developing family unity programming.Katina is with her family in Fisher River Cree Nation, offering workshops centred on wellness, culture and professional development. Katina is excited to have the opportunity to facilitate Aboriginal Business Entrepreneurship Skills Training in her region and looks forward to seeing the growth of self-sufficiency and economic opportunities for Indigenous women within her community.

Monica Kind
Fort Nelson, BC

I am Aboriginal; I am woman; I am Nisga’a; I am Monica Kind.My life is full of adventures as a student, educator, mother, grandmother, traveler, entrepreneur, power engineer, but my passion is with my Native roots and I am starting to find my comfort zone. I value family and community. The next phase of my life is to help empower, inspire and motivate Indigenous women. I do this to honor and connect with my mother; she was a proud, strong, beautiful and intelligent Nisga’a woman. What will be my Legacy? – It will be a continuation of my mother.

Nichol Rittinger 
Yorkton, SK

Nichol Rittinger is the Project Coordinator for Saskatchewan Aboriginal Women’s Circle Corporation for the past 5 years.  She has been active in the field of financial management, facilitation, education and program development for over twenty years, focusing on partnerships, soft skills training, work experience and promoting the Aboriginal Skills Employment Training Strategy and most recently the Business & Entrepreneurship and Skills Training across Saskatchewan.Nichol has administered several federal programs for Saskatchewan Aboriginal Women’s Circle Corporation such as the Canada Summer Jobs and partnered with Parkland College and Yorkton Tribal Council to provide work experience to several students in the Yorkton region. Nichol enjoys all aspects of the outdoors, she spends time with her family on their farm, enjoys gardening and quading.  She is a mother of two wonderful children and lives with her husband in Yorkton Saskatchewan.

Sandra DeLaronde  
Winnipeg, MB

Transformational Human and Organizational Specialist informed by the teachings of the ancestors, Sandra works to connect the present and the past to assist individuals and communities design their future from the strengths and resilience. From a long line of entrepreneurial women who used their skills and creativity in designing beautiful beadwork for clothing that was at once defining and practical in northern winters, Sandra has woven these gifts and strengths to create and fierce independent lifestyle. Sandra brings her skills as a master facilitator, coach, business writer, small business owner/consultant to the BEST training program.

Vicky auf der Mauer  
Toronto, ON

Vicky auf der Mauer is a proud Indigenous woman of Inuit decent from the Nunavut region of Canada, now residing in Toronto, Canada. As an entrepreneur, a facilitator of workshops on everything from empowerment, to meditation, yoga, and beyond, and an event manager, she finds fulfillment and purpose in witnessing people shift from lack into possibilities right before her very eyes, moving from despair into hope in action. She believes the empowerment provided by becoming self sustainable through entrepreneurship is the most important work Indigenous Women can do for themselves and their communities.

Helen Wakelin 
Eel Ground, NB

Helen Ward-Wakelin is a Miqmaq, from Eel Ground First Nation, New Brunswick. After completing my Bachelor Degree from the University of New Brunswick, I worked for the North Shore Micmac District Council-Technical Unit as a Housing Director & EDO Advisor for 15 years.  This position afforded me the opportunity to become the first female aboriginal building inspector.  This position involved other areas of interest such as Capital Planning, Community Planning, Infrastructure Development, and Economic Development.I started my own business in 2002, an indoor/outdoor garden centre. It evolved over 13 years.  It eventually became “Helen’s Pools and Spas”. Completed a year term position with New Brunswick Community College as an Aboriginal Funding Advisor, assisting first nations access training & funding within their communities. Deciding to move on from the pool business I opened “Natawe’g Business Services.”  Helping aboriginal entrepreneurs live their dream by writing business plans and working with them to obtain capital loans and grants Completed Maritime Environmental Training Institute Environmental, Health and Safety Technician.  I started my own business, “ Wakelin Health & Safety Services two months after graduating.

Some of my greatest achievements to date are the following:

  • Ulnooweg Development Group, “5th Annual Atlantic Aboriginal Awards,” received the “Woman Entrepreneur of the Year” on September 9, 2010
  • Miramichi Young Professional & Involved Entrepreneurs (MYPIE), “Community Champion Award” received on April 20, 2013
  • Participated in “Closer to Home,” a 2008 APTN Documentary series celebrating First Nations homes, housing, and communities.

Teresa Callihoo – Wetaskiwin, AB

Laura Bernard – Lennox Island, PE