Kitigan Zibi man wins business competition with tea leaves

Kayoki Whiteduck, the owner of Kayo-Tea, an organic tea company he grew from scratch, is hoping to expand after winning a competition.

Whiteduck recently won top prize in an Indigenous entrepreneurial competition called Pow-Wow Pitch.

“Then they select winners and I was fortunate to win the first place prize,” said Whiteduck.

The winning serves as a reminder he’s on the right path and the $5,000 that comes with it helps too.

(Whiteduck in his tea garden. Photo: Amber Bernard/APTN)

Whiteduck has been tending to his three gardens which total about half a hectare for about five years and space is getting tight.

He plans to use the competition to purchase more land so that he can grow more tea leaves.


(Tea leaves in Whitduck’s garden. He’s hoping to make this his full time business soon. Photo: Amber Bernard/APTN)

Whiteducks discovered he had a passion for gardening about 10 years ago when his father punished him for missing a game.

“I missed a rugby game and my dad was not happy with me,” Whiteduck said.

He remembers talking to his Dad about gardening and was intrigued from that moment on.

“So he brought me to the store and bought me some seeds… and I’ve been planting ever since.”


(The Kayo-Tea, an organic tea company Whiteduck grew from scratch. He’s looking forward to expanding his business. Photo: Amber Bernard/APTN)

Working full-time in his garden is Whiteduck’s ultimate dream.

For now he works as a landscaper on the side and sells his tea leaves at local markets in the fall and winter.

“Just working in my garden makes me the happiest person. If I could do this job full-time, I would be a very happy man.”

Whiteduck is hoping to have more land and a new building by next year to support the expansion of his business.

“So I’m hoping by 2020 to get a property and start building a very large garden.”


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