PHOTO: Jacques T. Watso, Founder of Sagamité Watso

Do it for your community

September 11, 2021

Semi-Finalist Spotlight on Jacques T. Watso, Sagamité Watso

Meet Jacques T. Watso, Founder of Sagamité Watso from Abenaki First Nation of Odanak. Jacques is a Pow Wow Pitch Quebec Semi-Finalist. We sat down with Jacques to learn more about him, his business and his reflections on entrepreneurship. 

PWP: Can you tell us about yourself and Sagamité Watso?

JTW: Indigenous people are hard-working and take pride in our community. I wanted that pride to shine through in all aspects of my business. I take pride in being from the Abenaki First Nation of Odanak, and I want my community to shine as well. My product has become an ambassador for my community, so it must stand proud as I do. I started Sagamité Watso to promote my Nation’s culinary heritage. 

I am a carpenter by trade and am building my business on the side, with the support of mentorship by fellow business leaders in my community. 

Sagamité is a traditional soup of the Abenaki culinary heritage of Odanak. It is a soup made from nine varieties of beans, hominy corn, spices and dehydrated vegetables. Our soup played an important in our survival, and I wanted to share it with the world.

I started the business from scratch and run all aspects of the business – from permits and logbooks to branding, food processing and packaging. Right now, Sagamité Watso is a one-person operation, but we are growing. We are on track to start creating sustainable jobs for our community members. 

PWP: What are you most proud of about your business?

JTW: I am so proud of my soup. It is wholesome, comforting, healthy, and I love when I receive positive feedback on the soup. It makes all of the effort worthwhile. 

PWP: Why did you choose to apply for Pow Wow Pitch?

JTW: ​I wanted to be a part of this great initiative, where Indigenous people are looking out for Indigenous people. It’sIt’s been great being part of a group supporting each other. It’s not a competition but a network of solidarity. 

As part of Pow Wow Pitch, I was paired with Chris Hunt as a Mentor from RBC. Chris was reassuring and gave me the confidence that I was on the right track for success. 

PWP: What advice do you have for Indigenous people thinking of starting up a business?

JTW: Do it, for yourself, for your family, for your community. And don’t be afraid to reach out for help; we all want you to succeed.

PWP: Thank you for chatting with us, Melissa! Good luck with the Semi-Finals.

You can support Jacques to reach the Pow Wow Pitch Finals by voting for him for the People’s Choice Prize. Click hereto vote for Jacques. You can also watch Jacques Pitch at the Quebec Semi-Finals Live on September 21, 2021, at 6 PM ET / 5 PM CT. Click here to register to watch.