This week I spoke with a woman who brought forth her idea to incorporate Indigenous-planned programming to the offerings that the charitable organization she works for in Whitehorse provides.
After attending some workshops for her own personal interest about Indigenous culture, she thought that if her organization hosted similar Indigenous-led workshops and programs, the people her organization aims to help could benefit significantly.
Her idea was turned down by her superiors, but she said they didn’t tell her why.
She told me what her ideas were, and they sounded very reasonable to me. Essentially, she hoped to provide a platform for Indigenous people to help other Indigenous people heal from past trauma through traditional practices.
Her bosses’ reaction is the opposite of how things should be handled in any kind of business.
What I’ve noticed this week in Inuvik is that small business initiatives are cropping up all the time in Inuvik, and often, they are consulting with locals about what they want and need from organizations in the community.
On Monday, I spoke with Glen Brake, who is planning to open a multi-purpose music centre in town. He hopes to open a music school, a retail store for instruments and accessories, a performance space, and a recording studio.
Brake told me he is still in the planning stages, but that a major part of the planning has been consulting with community leaders and members in Inuvik about what already exists in the town’s music culture, and what supports need to be facilitated, and how Brake’s music centre can best fill that need.
“I’m an outsider coming in, I don’t want to say ‘look at me, look at what I’m doing’. I want to ask what the community wants, what the community needs,” Brake said. “What does the community need? How can I, as a musician and the future operator of the music school, how can I serve the community?”
Brake stressed that the aim of his music centre is to give back to the community and provide a safe and healthy space that supports the existing music culture in Inuvik.
This is exactly the right kind of business approach to take in any community, especially in the North.
This kind of approach is important for all future entrepreneurs and small business owners to keep in mind in order to ensure that they are building organizations that serve the community and respect the area’s existing cultures.