One Arrow teen artist-entrepreneurs vie for big cash prize
- Julia Peterson | October 31, 2021
A group of young entrepreneurs from One Arrow First Nation has made it to the final round of a competition with a potential $25,000 grand prize.
Pow Wow Pitch, a grassroots community of Indigenous entrepreneurs from across Turtle Island, which runs a yearly pitch competition for Indigenous artists and innovators, saw more than 1,600 entrants this year.
Members of the business club at One Arrow’s Almightyvoice Education Centre have already wowed the judges with their pitch for 3R Innovative Imaging (the 3R stands for recycle, reinvent, reuse). In this sustainable business, students turn cabinet doors, discarded wood and other materials destined for the landfill into one-of-a-kind pieces of art.
10th grader sisters Ruby Mae Daniels and Lee Edna Daniels co-founded the business, which they run with other members of their school’s business club. The 15 students are in charge of every aspect of the business from making the products at school to organizing retail contracts throughout the province. Together, they have already sold thousands of pieces, like rearview mirror hangings and wall art, at trade shows and in gift stores.
Now, Daniels has taken the lead in sharing her and her fellow students’ work to an international Indigenous audience.
“We’re still in a little bit of a state of shock,” she said, reflecting on how far the business has advanced in the competition. “I am getting a lot of congratulations and I’m-proud-of-yous right now, so I’m soaking in all the compliments.”
Joe Taylor, the youth entrepreneur program coordinator at One Arrow, says making it this far in the pitch competition has been a “very humbling” experience. But while he is proud of how well the students have done, he is not surprised.
“The kids here have done some very special things and some great things are coming their way,” he said. “The kids are absolutely innovative and creative. It’s amazing what these young kids can do. It just simply astounds.”
Should they win, Ruby says the money will let her and her young colleagues build a website, launch a social media presence and fund start-up kits with art supplies and instructions to help other Indigenous youth get “the chance to succeed, like we have.”
Regardless of how the competition goes from here, it has already been an invaluable experience for the young entrepreneurs.
“We’ve already won, to be quite honest,” said Taylor. “Just getting to meet and work with some of the mentors has been an incredible opportunity for the kids. They’re so supportive and engaging.”
Mentors from companies like RBC, Shopify and Square helped the students refine their pitches before the grand finale.
3R Innovative Imaging, along with the rest of the finalists, will made their final pitch to the judges on October 12. The finale was broadcast online at https://www.powwowpitch.org/, and the winners were announced on October 20.