Students ACE business

Aboriginal adults have aced their way into business thanks to a program serving up the necessary skills

Graduates of the Aboriginal Canadian Entrepreneurs program proudly display their certificates at a ceremony last weekend

Graduates of the Aboriginal Canadian Entrepreneurs program proudly display their certificates at a ceremony last weekend

Aboriginal adults have aced their way into business thanks to a program serving up the necessary skills.

The Lakes Division Aboriginal Canadian Entrepreneurs Program has just wrapped up its first session in the Shuswap. Adams Lake, Neskonlith, Little Shuswap, Splatsin community members, as well as other qualifying aboriginals in the area have gained business skills thanks to a partnership between the University of Victoria’s Peter B Gustavson School of Business, the Lakes division bands, and the local ASETS partner.

“The program consists of 18 two-day workshops, each taught by a UVic professor,” said Debra Tamagi, program manager, adding that students learn: “everything you wanted to know about starting your own business.

“It’s a really awesome program.”

The first cohort of the LD-ACE began in February and ran through to Sept. 18. Now a new session is set to begin. Anyone interested in taking part can contact Tamagi at 250-328-4993 or

Funding for this program comes from the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism, and Skills Training, and made available to up to 18 people to participate in this valuable training program.

“We started the program with 18 and we have 15 graduating so we’re proud of that,” said Tamagi.

On top of the skill set gained, students were able to present their business concepts to a panel of professionals and lending institutions for a chance at making their business goals come true.

For students such as Daphne Maxime, the learning experience and skills gained alone were well worth the course.

Maxime is a First Nations woman born in Enderby who recently moved back home after living nearly 40 years abroad in the U.S.A. Her father was Neskonlith, and lived on the Salmon Arm Reserve, while her mother was from the Splatsin community. Maxime is in her mid-fifties, but definitely not done learning and not done moving towards her goals.

At first Daphne was unsure of the ACE program because she thought she might have difficulty keeping up with the concepts, since it’s similar to a university-level course, and taught by university professors.

She was hoping to create a sustainable business that she could grow and scale over time. She knew that she had the people skills and many of the ‘soft skills’ needed to make her business successful, but what she wanted to learn more about was the ‘hard skills’ or the technical aspects of entrepreneurship. As she moved through the ACE program, she was starting to build up this toolkit of skills.

She will apply them to Daph’s “Crafty” Touch, a mobile massage business she plans to establish using her crafting skills to earn money to get her through massage school and help supplement her income on the side.

Maxime stated that she felt that the ACE program has, “opened up (her) eyes,” to new knowledge. Coming to the ACE program feels like she, “has taken blinders off.” Through her learning at ACE she sees businesses differently – even things like their logos and store layouts convey so much more information to her than they did before.


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