A new program at the College of New Caledonia (CNC) will guide entrepreneurial-minded Indigenous youth on how to take their business ideas from concept to reality.
The LaKles Way-hut: Business Start-Up for Indigenous Youth program provides students with 11 weeks of training in entrepreneurship, skills for success, occupational, life skills, digital marketing, and cultural awareness to gain the knowledge and confidence to start a business or further their education.
This program is funded by the Government of Canada through the Canada-British Columbia Workforce Development Agreement.
“Training and education ensure Indigenous youth have the necessary skills to overcome obstacles that come with starting any company or business venture and forge their own path,” said Anne Kang, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training. “Programs like the LaKles Way-hut support Indigenous youth to turn their business ideas into realities that provide a multitude of benefits for their communities and British Columbia.”
LaKles Way-hut isn’t a typical business program. Rather, it’s a general knowledge program that curriculum developer Ray Gerow said equips students with a good grounding in what it’s like to be an entrepreneur.
Building his first business venture mowing lawns at the age of 10, Gerow has spent decades running his own businesses and developing Indigenous focused business programs across British Columbia.
That entrepreneurial spirit has deep roots in Indigenous communities, he said, which continues to thrive today. LaKles Way-hut is Chinook for “grease trail,” a complex system of trails Aboriginal groups used for trading items such as eulachan grease. Chinook was the trading language used on the Northwest Coast well into the 20th century.
“Indigenous people have always been entrepreneurial,” he said. “It’s who we are and how we survived in society. This program is about making Indigenous youth understand that the entrepreneurial drive exists within them as well.”
LaKles Way-hut: Business Start-Up for Indigenous Youth from Jan. 17 to March 31, 2022. It is a blended online approach with face-to-face elements taught on campus in Burns Lake, Fort St. James, Vanderhoof, Mackenzie, and Prince George. The free program is open to eligible youth aged 15 to 29 with successful candidates receiving a living allowance.
“We know there are talented Indigenous youth in the region CNC serves who aspire to one day start their own business,” said CNC President Dr. Dennis Johnson. “Like life, the business world is one of learning and adapting. Even if a student doesn’t go on to start their own business, this program will help gain knowledge and skills that will serve them throughout life.”