Since February 2022, our CREation Community Grants Team has been sending out Q&A forms to CREation Grantees to capture their experiences creating and carrying out their projects. Today we are featuring responses from the Shawish – Virtual Indigenous Marketplace project, led by youth leader Amanda Bernard and Jasmine Bernard from the Madawaska Maliseet First Nation, currently located in Toronto and Ottawa, Ontario.
Q : Tell us about your group and project!
A : Shawish is a virtual Indigenous marketplace whose mission is to help Indigenous businesses thrive across North America. Within the online platform, Indigenous artists can create their own profiles and upload their own products. Our commitment is to support our vendors by reducing fees as much as possible. This site is perfect for any ally that wants to support First Nation Communities. Through Shawish, we as Indigenous people can continue our ancestors’ ways of life.
Q : As the youth running the project, what impact do you hope it will have?
A : As a youth running the project, I hope Shawish inspires other Indigenous youth, entrepreneurs and artists to start their own companies. I also hope that through Shawish, Indigenous people can share their rich cultures with curious colonizers.
Q : What is something you have learned?
A : I’ve learned that, when starting any business or larger task, there will always be obstacles that one needs to overcome. The idea is to keep pushing through and deal with each issue individually. What you originally had in mind might not work out, but the overall idea should remain the same.
Q : What is one piece of advice you would share with other youth who want to run a project?
A : Through the passing of stories, it has been told that my great great great grandpa’s last name was Shawish. When settlers forced Native peoples to change their last names, my ancestors decided on Bernard, as this was the name of the community’s favourite priest at that time. The website was named Shawish to honour my ancestors.
We are so proud of the heart-work our young relatives like Amanda and Jasmine are doing across Turtle Island and are so lucky to be able to support them in their work.