Entrepreneur dream camp for Indigenous youth arrives in Sechelt

An opportunity for Indigenous youth to learn about entrepreneurship as well as a wide array of other skills, such as public speaking, is coming to the Sunshine Coast.

The Bears’ Lair Youth Entrepreneur Dream Camp will be held in Sechelt from Feb. 23 to 27, where youth can learn the fundamentals of owning and operating a business.

Hosted by the APTN TV show, Bears' Lair, the team has provided 28 camps across the country to date, elevating, educating and inspiring Indigenous youth.

The camp is open to Indigenous youth ages 11 to 18, registration can be found online.

Geena Jackson, creator and executive producer of Bears' Lair TV and shíshálh Nation member, said she is excited to be coming home to her own nation, knowing how important economic development is as well as inspiring youth to take a new look at entrepreneurship.

“It's a really great way to decide whether you want to go into leadership post-secondary, become an entrepreneur or go into working for a business,” Jackson said.

She said that topics at the camp will range from the macro-level – including developing marketing plans, startup and operational costs, marketing, and what a living wage is and why is it important to have one – down to the minutiae, with subjects like logo simplicity and accessibility.

Jackson explained that the kids will be split into teams on the first day, where after being shown examples, they will be able to choose a business, decide what they want to sell and how they’re going to sell it.

Mixed in with icebreaker games and prizes, she said that the teams will learn important business elements such as identifying the target market for their new business.

Without giving away too much of what is in store, the weekend culminates with each team recording their own Bears’ Lair pitch – which is shown during the celebration during the last night, where a panel of judges determines the winner.

Jackson said the celebration usually consists of 100 to 120 members of leadership, friends, family and community members, who are all welcomed to join for a feast and watch the videos that each team made.

And like any good business show, prizes are involved. The winning team will each receive $250, and everyone who participates will receive $100, as well as matching hoodies and more.

Jackson explained that these camps have had an interesting reverse-education, where the youth who attend end up teaching their parents some of the skills they learned afterwards.

“We have so many parents that come up to us after us and say, ‘My son or daughter has never ever spoken in public ever. And they just spoke in front of the whole community,’ or ‘my son came home and he made me a LinkedIn profile,’” she said.

Jackson said she looks forward to holding the event back in her home community, adding that shíshálh has a reputation for being proactive and respectful of initiatives like the Bears' Lair.

“I'm really honoured that I'm respected enough where they feel that this is needed, and that they are trusting me with their own community members and children, which are my cousins and nephews and nieces and family.

“My community, the shíshálh Nation, paid for my broadcast journalism degree and really elevated who I am as a person,” she said. “Knowing that there's support for culture, there's support for entrepreneurism, that our Elders are giving us wisdom, that there's professionals in the field, whether it be health, education, entrepreneurism, or the medical field that are really coming back to community and wanting to make a difference and empower our community.”

She included that everywhere she has gone across Canada, the core values remain the same: respect for the youth, respect for the Elders, family empowerment and raising each other up.

Jordan Copp is the Coast Reporter’s civic and Indigenous affairs reporter. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.

Jordan Copp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Coast Reporter