Chandra LeBlanc, Forage & Feast, wins NB Indigenous Tourism Summit Pow Wow Pitch

February 23, 2024

Natoaganeg business wins $1,000 in Fredericton, New Brunswick

On Thursday, February 22, 2024, Pow Wow Pitch, an Indigenous-led non-profit organization that empowers and supports Indigenous entrepreneurs with access to capital, mentorship, training and support, presented in partnership with RBC, Shopify, and Mastercard, announced Chandra LeBlanc, Founder of Forage & Feast, from Natoaganeg First Nation as the first-ever NB Indigenous Tourism Summit Pow Wow Pitch Winner, in collaboration with Joint Economic Development Initiative  (JEDI) and Indigenous Tourism Association of New Brunswick (ITANB). The First Nation-owned business has won $1,000 for their business and will advance to the 2024 Pow Wow Pitch Semi-Finals.

On Thursday, 21 Indigenous entrepreneurs pitched their businesses live at the NB Indigenous Tourism Summit in Fredericton, New Brunswick, for their chance to win cash prizes to advance their businesses. 

The NB Indigenous Tourism Summit is a two-day conference co-hosted by JEDI and ITANB, with headline speakers, including a keynote from the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada CEO, Keith Henry, presentations from New Brunswick tourism leaders, and informative workshops and tourism experiences.   

Pow Wow Pitch welcomed judges Stanley Barnaby, CEO of JEDI, Laura Englehart, Economic Development Manager of JEDI, and Karen Narvey, CEO of ITANB, to adjudicate and listen to the pitches of vendors and attendees.

Chandra LeBlanc is the Founder of Forest & Forage, an Indigenous tourism startup offering guided walking tours and culinary experiences centered around mushroom foraging and land knowledge. Chandra is a self-taught mushroom enthusiast and shared in her pitch that she plans to launch a diverse mushroom product line and secure partnerships to establish her tours.

“I think this is going to open a lot of doors for me,” shared Chandra. “I am very grateful for Pow Wow Pitch and the NB Indigenous Tourism Summit, it has taught me a lot and I’m very excited to see what the future brings!”

The Second-Place $800 Prize Winner was Stone Bear, Founder of Wolastoq Adventures, an illuminated kayaking experience offering new and innovative avenues to enjoy nature. Stone shared in his pitch that he wishes to expand Wolastoq Adventure’s marketing reach, purchase more kayaks, and acquire more staff members to their team. 

“It’s a privilege and an honour to place second with Pow Wow Pitch,” shared Stone. “We are really excited to help add to our business and grow our team. Thank you very much to Pow Wow Pitch, it was a lot of fun!” 

The Third-Place $600 winner was Ashley Sanipass, Founder of Mi’kmaq Art Experience, a hands-on art experience created to teach the traditional art styles and language of the Mi’kmaq people through workshops and art kits. Ashley pitched to win funds to develop her youth programming and to provide more materials and variety to her art kits.

“I am so excited to have won third place with Pow Wow Pitch,” shared Ashley. “It makes me feel really proud that people believe in me and my business.”

“Chandra, Stone, and Ashley, congratulations on your remarkable achievement as the winners of the first-ever NB Indigenous Tourism Summit Pow Wow Pitch,” said Naomi Sarazin, Executive Director of Pow Wow Pitch. “Your dedication to creating authentic and enriching experiences within your communities is truly commendable. We look forward to continuing collaborating with our partners in New Brunswick to support Indigenous entrepreneurship and achieving even greater milestones together into the future.”

“Congratulations to Chandra, Stone, and Ashley, on winning the NB Indigenous Tourism Summit Pow Wow Pitch,” said Karen Narvey, Executive Director of Indigenous Tourism New Brunswick. “Your unwavering dedication and innovative spirit shine brightly. Pow Wow Pitch stands as an incredible platform to highlight and provide indispensable resources and opportunities for Indigenous entrepreneurs to thrive in our dynamic tourism sector.”

“We are always so happy to collaborate with Pow Wow Pitch to create opportunities that support and highlight the immense talent we have here in New Brunswick,” said Laura Englehart, Economic Development Manager of JEDI. “Congratulations to the incredible winners of the NB Indigenous Tourism Summit Pow Wow Pitch, your initiative brightens our community and we are so excited to follow your journeys.”

All those who pitched are automatically entered into the Turtle Island (North American) Pow Wow Pitch competition and will be welcomed into the Pow Wow Pitch community for ongoing support. All pitchers have gained access to a free Indigenous Startup Program, the opportunity to have their products and services be considered to be featured in the annual Pow Wow Pitch Box and on Pow Wow Market for socially-conscious customers looking to ‘Buy Indigenous,’ and will receive a free .CA domain courtesy of CIRA, and a 60-day free Shopify Trial.