Indigenous Arts Entrepreneurship

Values-Driven Approaches and Practical Tools for Success

June 2, 11:30am – 1:30pm
Harbourfront Centre Studio Theatre

Presented by Artscape Daniels Launchpad

This panel discussion will explore perspectives on what Indigenous entrepreneurship means and how a values-driven approach can inform successful artist entrepreneurs in retail, art exhibition and festival presentations.  How can we apply Indigenous values-based approaches to creating sustainable and conscious businesses, practices and relationships?  The panel will also explore practical tools and technologies for enabling independent businesses to thrive in a competitive landscape: How do you set yourself apart from the crowd?  What are some key trends that are supporting the growth of Indigenous entrepreneurship?  How do Indigenous artists build relationships that honour Indigenous values? The panel will discuss how to effectively market and publicize your work using Indigenous frameworks and communications within your business practices.

PanelistDevon Fiddler, Founder, SheNative

Devon Fiddler is a Cree Woman from the Waterhen Lake First Nation in Saskatchewan. Devon is a social entrepreneur, and the Chief Changemaker of SheNative Goods Inc, a brand of handbags and accessories. Devon has built SheNative to help empower and change perceptions of Indigenous Woman and girls.

Devon has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Aboriginal Public Administration from the University of Saskatchewan, and has completed numerous leadership, economic development, entrepreneurship and business certificate programs in the last five years, including Praxis School of Entrepreneurship and Netmaker Academy.

Devon has also been recognized and rewarded in various business planning competitions and has worked hard to earn seed funding through various grant and loan programs through Futurpreneur, BDC, the Aboriginal Youth Idea Challenge, the Michealle Jean Foundation’s Young Arts Entrepreneur Grant and successful crowdfunding campaigns on Indiegogo and Kickstarter. Devon has been nominated for various entrepreneurial and leadership awards and received recognition at the 2015 CBC Future 40 Under 40 designation in 2015. Devon was also among 20 entrepreneurs who represented Canada at the G20 Young Entrepreneur Alliance (YEA) Summit in Istanbul, Turkey in September 2015, received the 2015 Start-up Canada Young Entrepreneur of the year award and the Sustainable Business of the Year for the Prairie Region.

In 2016, Devon received the YWCA Women of Distinction Award in the under 29 category. Devon’s most recent achievement was becoming one of the top 5 She-eo Ventures of 2016.

PanelistDenise Bolduc, Creative Director, Programmer and Producer

Denise Bolduc is an accomplished creative leader recognized for her significant contributions and vision with a multitude of diverse creative initiatives.  She is often referred to as a connector, creating exciting platforms inspiring artistic expression, and collaborations across communities.  As a Creative Director, Programmer and Producer, key initiatives in 2017 include:  Intersections of Culture (CAPACOA, Ottawa), Tributaries, (Luminato Festival Opening, Toronto), First Scene Indigenous Presenters Program (National Arts Centre, Ottawa), and Beyond 150 Years:  An Acknowledgement of Indigenous Film (REEL CANADA/VIFF, Vancouver).   Denise was the Co-Founder/Artistic Director of Canada’s premier Indigenous music organization, the Aboriginal Music Project, and the founding Artistic Director and Producer of the inaugural Planet IndigenUs Festival.   Other recent activities include: The Original Peoples Party & First Nations Exchange (International Performing Arts Curatorial Advisor & Facilitator, Blakdance/Australia Performing Arts Market, 2018), Miiyuu Pimaatswin (Creative Producing partnership with Native Women in the Arts, 2016), Songs in the Key of Cree (Lead Creative Producer, a musical cabaret-retrospective honouring Tomson Highway, 2015), Maadaadizi/Summer Journeys (Producer, Grand Finale – PAN AM Path, 2015), and as Creative Producer of the Thunderbird Marketplace, a premier initiative featuring 12 artists at the One of the Kind Show (2014).  

Denise served for many years as a Program Officer of Indigenous Arts at the Ontario Arts Council, and as the first Indigenous Music & Dance Program Officer with the Canada Council for the Arts.  In these roles she spearheaded programs in multidisciplinary arts, music and dance.  Internationally Denise has programmed and presented at festivals and cultural events in Australia, New Zealand and Ireland.  She is a sought after guest speaker, host, consultant, instructor, and mentor.  She also serves as a member on numerous committees, boards, advisories and peer assessment committees. 

In 2017, Denise was chosen as the Laureate of the prestigious Ontario Arts Council’s Indigenous Arts Award.  She also is the recipient of the SOLID Festival’s Arts Leadership Award, the Indigenous Women’s Business Leadership Award, and numerous grant awards.  Denise is of French and Anishinaabe descent from the Lake Superior territory, and is a member of the Batchewana First Nation with family ties in Garden River First Nation.

PanelistJenn Harper, Founder, Cheekbone Beauty

Jenn Harper, founder of Cheekbone Beauty, was born in Thunder Bay, Ontario and relocated to the Niagara Region where she was raised and developed a passion for cosmetics.  Jenn is happily married, with two beautiful children and still living in the Niagara Region to this day.  For Jenn, make-up has become a means of expression that she feels has amazing power!  Jenn developed Cheekbone Beauty because she felt there needed to be a brand for real people, that offered the latest trends and was super easy.  There needed to be a brand that was made in Canada, that was never tested on animals AND that gave back to the First Nations community.  The brand did not exist, so Jenn created it!  Through countless hours over the past two and a half years, Cheekbone Beauty was born!

Over the past ten years, Jenn has had successful career in sales and marketing with two large international corporations.  During her first week of training session with one of these companies a questionnaire asked: “What is your dream job?”  Jenn wrote “To be the CEO of a major cosmetic brand.”  At the time, there was no indication that Jenn would eventually set out to build Cheekbone Beauty.  During the development of Cheekbone Beauty, Jenn researched the industry as well as charities that are helping close the educational funding gap that exists between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students.  Jenn found the First Nations Child & Family Caring Society (FNCFCS) and Cheekbone Beauty continues to support the FNCFCS today.  During Cheekbone’s infancy, Jenn also suffered a heavy personal loss with the suicide of her brother B.J.  This loss, though difficult, has remained a driving force behind Jenn’s desire to see Cheekbone Beauty succeed with its mission.  

PanelistSage Paul, Artistic Director, IFWTO

Sage is Founder and Artistic Director of Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto and an Artist/Designer. In 2017, Sage received the Design Exchange RBC Emerging Designer Award in the fashion category, was recognized by FLARE Magazine in their #HowIMadeIt campaign celebrating 100+ talented, ambitious and driven Canadian women and was honoured by the Ontario Ministry of the Status of Women as a trailblazing woman transforming Ontario.

Sage has presented on Indigenous fashion, including on cultural appropriation at Canada House (London, UK), University of Johannasburg, The Walrus Magazine, Ryerson University, Brock University, Toronto Women’s Fashion Week and South Africa Fashion Week. Some of Sage's art and design has shown at the Royal Ontario Museum, The Centre for Craft, Creativity and Design (North Carolina, USA), and a curated program at Western Canada Fashion Week by Ociciwan Contemporary Art Collective.  Sage will present a new collection at the Festival de Mode & Design in Montreal, August 2018.

Moderator: Jerrold McGrath, Director of Program, Artscape Launchpad

Jerrold McGrath joined the Launchpad team as Director of Launchpad Programs in November 2017. Prior to this, he spent eight years at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, where he led the design and delivery of over 100 programs including the Toronto Arts Council Cultural Leaders Lab, New Fundamentals: Leadership for the Creative Ecology, ALT/Now: Economic Inequality, Getting to Maybe: A Social Innovation Residency, Leading by Design, and Hope Decoded, an interdisciplinary residency addressing hope and hopelessness across communities. Jerrold also recently directed the Decolonizing Canadian Dance project on behalf of the Canadian Dance Assembly.