Jasmine LaBillois, Msit No’kmaq Forest & Nature School, wins 2023 People’s Choice

September 20, 2023

Indigenous entrepreneur from Eel River Bar, New Brunswick wins $1,000 and advances to the Pow Wow Pitch Finals.

On September 19th, Pow Wow Pitch, North America’s premier pitch competition for Indigenous entrepreneurs, presented in partnership with RBC, Shopify and Mastercard, announced Jasmine LaBillois, the Eel River Bar First Nation Founder of Msit No’kmaq Forest & Nature School from Eel River Bar, New Brunswick, as the 2023 Pow Wow Pitch People’s Choice Winner.

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.

As part of the competition, Pow Wow Pitch invited the public to vote for their favourite entrepreneur to win the People’s Choice Prize as part of a campaign to showcase, celebrate and rally around the Semi-Finalists. This year, more than 18,000 people from across Turtle Island casted their votes for the entrepreneur that they wanted to see make it to the Finals. 

Jasmine has won $1,000 and has advanced to the Finals after receiving more than 2,500 of the more than 18,000 votes as part of the Pow Wow Pitch People’s Choice Prize.

“I decided to pitch because I saw it as an opportunity to grow Msit No’kmaq Forest & Nature School,” said Jasmine. “Pow Wow Pitch gives Indigenous entrepreneurs a platform to share with others your dreams, goals and passions. Our goal is to expand our Forest School initiative to welcome both young and adult learners and be a leader in the movement of Indigenous Land-Based Education.” 

Msit No’kmaq Forest & Nature School is a non-profit organization that offers land-based education and cultural camps that provide a safe and inclusive space to teach Indigenous youth Mi’kmaq knowledge. Jasmine pitched to win funds to further develop her school’s infrastructure and programming. 

“Congratulations Jasmine LaBillois winning the People’s Choice win for moving forard to the finals for the 2023 Pow Wow Pitch Finals,” said Sunshine Tenasco, Founder of Pow Wow Pitch. “It was incredible to watch as People’s Choice votes continued to climb for Jasmine over the last four weeks! It is clear that the community is rallying its support around Jasmine and Msit No’kmaq Forest & Nature School. Way to be a champion for your community!” 

“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 honour, 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 Jasmine on advancing to the next round.”

To watch Jasmine’s winning pitch, click here.

Jasmine 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 www.powwowpitch.org for more information.