Alana Cook and Dr. Sadie Laronde win Health & Wellness Semi-Finals

September 8, 2023

Two Indigenous entrepreneurs from across Turtle Island each win $1,000 and advance to the Pow Wow Pitch Finals.

On September 8, Pow Wow Pitch, North America’s premier pitch competition for Indigenous entrepreneurs, presented in partnership with RBC, Shopify, and Mastercard, announced two winners of the Health & Wellness Semi-Final:

Each winner has won $1,000 and is advancing to the Finals for a chance to win $25,000 to grow their businesses.

More than 2,000 Indigenous entrepreneurs from across Canada and the United States applied to Pow Wow Pitch this year for their chance to win cash prizes and advance to the Pow Wow Pitch Finals. From the 2,000 applicants, 130 were selected as Semi-Finalists and provided with training and mentorship to prepare for their semi-final pitch to the Judges.

Tonight, Sunshine Tenasco, Founder of Pow Wow Pitch, emceed the action-packed program, where the twelve Health & Wellness Semi-Finalists had the opportunity to pitch their business ideas and businesses in one minute for their chance to win. 

Judges included Renee Racine, Head of Digital Design, Journeys and Design Operations at RBC; Kristina Vilf, Senior Managing Consultant at Mastercard; Anthony Wigham, Entrepreneur & Business Owner of Nuez Acres; and Althea Wishloff, Partner at Raven Indigenous Capital Partners

Health & Wellness – Movement Semi-Final Spotlight

“Growth starts outside the comfort zone, and I knew it was time to turn Walking Like Warriors from a passion project into a full-fledged business, ” said the 2023 Health and Wellness – Movement Semi-Final Winner Alana Cook, Founder of Walking Like Warriors. “I applied for Pow Wow Pitch to gain business experience, increase media exposure, and meet amazing fellow Indigenous entrepreneurs from across Turtle Island. I have really been loving the mentorship, the constant challenges, and the incredible opportunities to level up. Bring on the finals!”

Walking Like Warriors is a self-defence training course coached by professional MMA fighter and founder, Alana Cook. Walking Like Warriors teaches women and youth how to stay safe and boost confidence though 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.

Alana has dreams to grow Walking Like Warriors by growing a team of coaches and facilitators. She shared in her pitch, “I would use the prize money to grow my team, develop a web series, create a website, and engage with remote communities.” 

Vincent Starr, Founder of VStarr Boxing was also honoured as the Runner Up of the Health & Wellness Movement Semi-Final. 

Health & Wellness – Services Semi-Final Spotlight

“Pow Wow Pitch is an amazing experience to gain clarity of my vision and inspire me to take the big leaps I know I want to do,” said the Winner of the Health & Wellness – Services Semi-Final Dr. Sadie Laronde, Founder of The Butterfly Effect. The Butterfly Effect is a subscription-based healing practice that allows users to get in touch with the power of the nervous system to heal traumas. Founded and lead by Dr. Sadie Laronde, a professional chiropractor, The Butterfly Effect is an initiative to bring awareness to body-led practices to healing trauma.

In her pitch, Dr. Sadie shared that her main goal to take The Butterfly Effect to the next level is to amplify her message to reach more communities and give Indigenous peoples the tools to tend to their traumas. “My mission is to heal Indigenous trauma across Turtle Island,” shared Dr. Sadie Laronde.

Michael Wesley, RD., Founder of Indigenous Health and Nutrition Consulting, was also honoured as the Runner Up of the Health & Wellness Services Category

“Congratulations to Alana and Dr. Sadie on winning the Health & Wellness Pow Wow Pitch Finals,” said Sunshine Tenasco, Founder of Pow Wow Pitch. “The future is brighter with leaders like you taking initiative to break cycles and heal Indigenous communities through movement and wellbeing. Congratulations also to all of the Health & Wellness Semi-Finalists who are putting in the work to make positive impacts on your community, keep up the great work!”

“Pow Wow Pitch is a tremendous showcase of Indigenous innovation and entrepreneurship, and the stories and achievements of this year’s semi-finalists are a testament to their creativity and entrepreneurial spirit,” said Michael Ferencich, Senior Vice President, Business Financial Services, RBC. “We’re so proud of all our participants and semi-finalists, and we will continue to support their growth and success in the future.”

“Being involved in Pow Wow Pitch is not just an honor, it’s a privilege to witness the creativity and innovation of Indigenous entrepreneurs,” said Kyle Brennan Shàwinipinesì, Build Native Program Manager at Shopify. “It’s a reminder of the resilience and strength of our communities and the power of entrepreneurship to create positive change. Shopify has played a proud role in supporting Pow Wow Pitch, so it is exciting to see how things have grown over the years. What an incredible opportunity for Indigenous entrepreneurs!”

“At Mastercard, we’ve been inspired by the innovative thinking and solutions brought forward by all the Indigenous entrepreneurs involved in this year’s Pow Wow Pitch,” said Sasha Krstic, President of Mastercard in Canada. “The future is brighter when Indigenous entrepreneurship is recognized, supported and celebrated, and we are honoured to play a role in continued success and growth of these entrepreneurs. Congratulations to all the pitchers and congratulations to Rachael Hunt on advancing to the next round.”

Alana and Dr. Sadie will now advance to the Pow Wow Pitch Finals to pitch for the Grand Prize of $25,000, which broadcasts online on October 19th. Visit for more information.