Fireweed fellowship program aims to support Indigenous-owned businesses


A new program has been created to support Indigenous women and non-binary entrepreneurs across the country who are underrepresented.

The Fireweed Fellowship is the first national accelerator program of its kind run by Indigenous people.

Its goal is to help businesses grow and to do it within an Indigenous environment.

Larissa Crawford is the founder of Future Ancestors Services. She is one of 24 applicants who were selected for the first year of the program which started in early November.

“I want to understand what we need to do,” Crawford said of the Fireweed Fellowship.

“I want to understand what our finance people are doing. I want to understand how to set up our business is investment ready. And that’s very much what the Fellowship is seeking to do. I’m really looking forward to building that part of myself that I have just not been comfortable with.”

The fellowship is running a then months online course combining online educational sessions, self-directed on-the-land learning and leadership development. Programming will examine alternative economic models and perspectives.

Director, Jacqueline Jennings said students taking the course are often in the market for generating revenue.

“We support them by growing and scaling their business with wraparound supports such as professional coaching, mentorship, financial literacy, investment readiness,” Jennings said.

With fundraising from the raven Indigenous partners, they are able to provide this training for free.

“Our youngest participant is 23. We have a handful of participants in their mid 20’s. And I would say on the upper end we are honoured to have participants well into the 50’s. We have a really dynamic group,” said Jennings.

The Fellowship said it has plans to continue the course in 2021.

Video Journalist / Edmonton

Chris Stewart has been in the media for 20 years. He has worked at CBC, Global and CTV as a news camera operator and editor. Chris joined APTN in 2012 in the Saskatoon Bureau and moved to APTN Edmonton bureau in 2015 as a Videojournalist.