2023 RECAP


2023 was a transformative year for Pow Wow Pitch as we widened and deepened our impact through improving existing and establishing new platforms to support and showcase Indigenous entrepreneurs. 

This year, more than 5,000 Indigenous entrepreneurs from across Turtle Island participated in Pow Wow Pitch Programming and we provided more than $350,000 in prizes and procurements directly to Indigenous entrepreneurs. This digital recap highlights our activities and accomplishments in 2023. 

Mīgwetch to our Co-Presenting Sponsors RBC, Shopify, and Mastercard, our Industry Sponsors, Partners, Alumni, Judges, Mentors, supporters and all of the entrepreneurs who shared their hearts, vision, and stories with us. We are reclaiming and rising together!

Sunshine Quem Tenasco

Founder, Pow Wow Pitch


Pow Wow Pitch welcomed its first-ever team members to the family: Keely Thompson-Cook from Akwesasne, ON, joining as our inaugural Communications Coordinator, and Brett Burrow from Victoria, BC, as our first Programs Coordinator. The growth of our team marks a significant achievement for Pow Wow Pitch, allowing us to scale our impact for Indigenous entrepreneurs each year. We are proud to have established our team, dedicated to bringing these opportunities to life. Read more


In 2023, Pow Wow Pitch significantly expanded its impact, providing over $250K in cash prizes and more than 1,000 hours of mentorship and training to Indigenous entrepreneurs. The program was featured at prominent festivals and powwows across Turtle Island, leading up to the Virtual Pitch program  which offered comprehensive support, including bootcamps, mentorship, pitch training, promotional support, and media attention, engaging 2,500 entrepreneurs across diverse events and 5,000 viewers online.

Throughout the competition, more than 14,000 people voted for the People’s Choice Prizes awarded to Jasmine LaBillois. In addition, more than 5,000 people joined the live watch parties for the Semi-Final and Grand Finale events.  

Thank you to all of our esteemed Mentors, and  Judges, and congratulations to the Semi-Finalists, Finalists and Winners!


The First Place Prize of $25,000 presented by RBC and Shopify went to Ashley Michel, Founder and Owner of 4 Generations Creations, from Secwempc Nation in British Columbia. Ashley’s business, 4 Generations Creations, is a marketplace based in Kamloops, British Columbia for authentic Indigenous fabrics, materials, and art, and aims to create designs that educate others about Indigenous issues & resiliency. Watch Ashley’s pitch

The second-place prize of $10,000 presented by Mastercard, went to Alana Cook, Co-founder and MMA Coach of Walking Like Warriors from the Métis Nation of Alberta. Walking Like Warriors is a self-defence course based in St. Catharines, Ontario, that teaches women and youth how to stay safe and boost confidence through inclusive and culturally safe workshops. Alana’s motivation to help others embody the passion of a true warrior is nourishing the next generation of empowered youth. Watch Alana’s pitch.

The Third Place Prize of $5,000 presented by Shopify, went to Jodie Moonie, the Founder and Owner of Muusa, from Timiskaming First Nation. Muusa is an Indigenous- and women-owned scrub apparel brand based in Notre Dame Du Nord, Quebec, that combines the beauty of traditional design with the functionality of healthcare wear. Watch Jodie’s pitch.


The Indigenous Entrepreneur Awards recognize excellence in Indigenous entrepreneurship by celebrating entrepreneurial leaders for their perseverance, growth, impact and example. This year, the Awards received more than 3,200 applications and nominations.

Pow Wow Pitch announced eight Award Winners from across Turtle Island at the 3rd Annual Indigenous Entrepreneur Awards, co-presented by RBC, Shopify, and Mastercard in partnership with Export Development Canada and the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada

The award winners were honored with a special performance by hoop dancer Theland Kicknosway, from Walpole Island Bkejwanong Territory. Each award winner also received an official awards pin, designed and hand-created by Niiostoseraah Thompson, Founder and CEO of Small Feather Empire. Additionally, they received a signed, limited edition print of the artwork ‘Ring’ by Chippewa and Potawatomi artist Chief Lady Bird from Rama First Nation. This print features a plaque with their name and recognition. Watch the Awards and read the whole story for more details. Watch the Awards and read the whole story for more details.


Terry Brown, Founder & CEO Okimaw Community and HR Solutions from Winnipeg, MB – Watch

Michelle Bernier, Founder and CEO of Northern Nursing Solutions from Calgary, AB – Watch

Sarain Fox, Activist, Entrepreneur, and Broadcaster of Land Back Studios from Barrie, ON – Watch

James Jones, Activist, Dancer, Notorious Cree from Edmonton, AB – Watch

Vanessa Gernier, Founder and CEO of Quilts for Survivors from Timmins, ON  – Watch

Lori Anne Stanger, Co-founder and CEO of FIRE 1 from North Bay, ON – Watch

Vanessa Marshall, Founder and CEO of Jack59 Inc. from Edmonton, AB – Watch 

Trina Mather-Simard, Founder of Indigenous Experiences & Mādahòkì Farms from Stitsville, ON – Watch 


This year's curated Pow Wow Pitch Box showcases a collection of fourteen diverse products, including bath and body items, stationery, apparel, home essentials, and food products. Highlighting Indigenous talent, the box features captivating artwork by renowned artists such as Louie Gong, known for his iconic Hummingbird Design, and Tenille K. Campbell, who penned the empowering 'What If' poem crafted specifically for Indigenous entrepreneurs. With 500 Pow Wow Pitch Boxes made accessible for purchase, the initiative generated over $80,000 in procurement orders. The availability of these boxes not only provided substantial exposure but also served as the inaugural wholesale opportunity for many of these talented creators.


Pow Wow Market is an online marketplace that is creating a platform for the Pow Wow Pitch community to grow their online impact. With inspiration from vendor markets at traditional powwows, Pow Wow Market is a place for Indigenous brands to shine and reach new audiences with the support of the Pow Wow Pitch community. 

At the onset Pow Wow Market features a variety of eighteen Indigenous brands, all alumni of the Pow Wow Pitch program. These businesses contribute 10% of sales to the Alumni Fund, playing a key role in fund allocation and promoting community growth and sustainability. Pow Wow Market is set to support these eighteen brands with sights to add more products and brands as the Pow Wow Pitch community grows, creating a lasting opportunity for current and future entrepreneurs. Shop now


The Pow Wow Pitch Alumni Network is a community of Indigenous entrepreneurs who have participated in Pow Wow Pitch, working together to empower the next generation

In 2023, with Mastercard's support, the Alumni Network committed over $75,000 to collaborative initiatives and expanded Alumni Prizes, fostering Indigenous-led economic growth through their contributions and resource allocation.

Alumni-Supported Initiatives: 


This year, the Pow Wow Pitch Alumni Network was also proud to support SOAR as a pivotal Accelerator and Digital Gathering for Indigenous entrepreneurs in Canada. This innovative initiative is a cornerstone in unifying the Indigenous entrepreneurial ecosystem, promoting growth and collaboration.

Developed as a safe, inclusive space, SOAR 2023 fostered sharing, learning, and connection among Indigenous entrepreneurs. It embodied the spirit of encouragement and collaboration, deeply ingrained in sacred teachings.

The Accelerator supported five Pow Wow Pitch Alumni to participate in a 2-day SOAR Accelerator in Toronto and the Digital Gathering, which brought together more than 1,400 Indigenous entrepreneurs and which featured Pow Wow Pitch Alumni as speakers, marked a significant stride in empowering Indigenous entrepreneurship, offering a platform for development and networking. SOAR 2023 exemplified the power of unity in fostering a thriving future for Indigenous business leaders.


Pow Wow Pitch is at the forefront of nurturing Indigenous entrepreneurship, aligning with community values through impactful grant programs. In collaboration with Aritzia, we proudly awarded six Aritzia Indigenous Fashion Grants to top Indigenous designers from our Fashion Category, supporting the growth of their unique brands. Additionally, our partnership with  Best Buy Canada enabled the launch of the Tech-4-Youth, providing nine technology grants to young Indigenous entrepreneurs. These initiatives reflect our dedication to empowering Indigenous businesses with the resources they need to thrive in today's competitive market.


Our impact strategy focuses on spotlighting, storytelling, and knowledge sharing through partnerships and our expanding digital network. In collaboration with Meta and Jelly Marketing, Pow Wow Pitch is enhancing its presence on Facebook and Instagram. These platforms are instrumental in growing our community, sharing success stories, and helping Pow Wow Pitch entrepreneurs reach new audiences.

The 3rd season of the Pow Wow Pitch Podcast was a huge success, attracting over 7,500 listens and amassing more than 5,000 subscribers. Our monthly e-newsletters also gained popularity, reaching over 42,000 subscribers. Additionally, our social media channels have seen significant growth, now boasting more than 22,000 followers. This year, Pow Wow Pitch and our entrepreneurs have garnered considerable media attention, with over 100 mentions across television, radio, print newspapers, and digital press. These mentions have ranged from brief acknowledgments to full-blown stories and series. Pow Wow Pitch has also published 40 stories, sharing the experiences and lessons of the 2023 Pow Wow Pitch entrepreneurs.


Pow Wow Pitch is a non-profit organization funded entirely through sponsorships from sponsors and partners who share our commitment to the success of Indigenous entrepreneurs. We are proud to collaborate with our partners, leveraging corporate leadership, financial support, and employee volunteerism to create a lasting impact on our communities.

This revision aims to streamline the sentence for better clarity and flow while maintaining the original meaning.