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Aboriginal Crafts Business Idea Wins Top Prize at Competition

First Nations students take home the gold at an aboriginal business competition hosted by the Business Development Bank of Canada.
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Little Neechies Arts and Crafts, a business idea by students at Children of the Earth High School in Winnipeg, Manitoba won the gold award at the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) E-Spirit awards gala May 17.

Winning First Nations students were Courtney Johnston, Sierra Cromarty, Brittany Laplante and Jestine McKay.

Their business offers affordable handmade aboriginal crafts in assembly kits that include instructions and all the materials needed to make items like headdresses, dream catchers and drum key chains. While crafting items, buyers also learn about the history, meaning and relevant teachings behind each craft.

The gold team received $1,500 that goes to their school, and each team member received a BlackBerry PlayBook.

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“The prize money is put back into the program and used to enhance activities and supplies, etc. for the next year's class,” said Leigh Brown, the girls’ teacher and coach for the competition.

The national business plan competition exposes students to the benefits of youth entrepreneurship.

“The BDC E-Spirit business plan competition is priming a new generation of aboriginal youth to consider entrepreneurship as a career choice and find a tangible way to marry cultural values and entrepreneurial success,” said Wilson Neapew, BDC National Director, Aboriginal Banking Unit, in a press release. “BDC E-Spirit goes beyond teaching the students how to develop a business plan: it encourages them to look at the Internet as a new way to network and do business. The students are already using social media channels like Facebook and Twitter to promote their projects and stay in touch. We look forward to seeing them apply the same set of skills to start their own business and attract economic development to their communities.”