PHOTO: A Taste of the Atlantic Pow Wow Pitch Winners alongside judges and Pow Wow Pitch team member.

Lisa Perley Dutcher, Kehkimin, wins A Taste of the Atlantic Pow Wow Pitch

August 28, 2023

Wolastoqey Nation business wins $1,000 in Fredericton, New Brunswick

On Saturday, August 26th, 2023, Pow Wow Pitch, North America’s premier pitch competition for Indigenous entrepreneurs, presented in partnership with RBC, Shopify,and Mastercard in collaboration with Joint Economic Development Initiative (JEDI) and The Ginger Agency, announced Lisa Perley Dutcher, Founder of Kehkimin Wolastoqey language immersion school, from the Wolastoqey Nation as the first-ever A Taste of the Atlantic Pow Wow Pitch Winner. The Indigenous-owned business has won $1,000 and a $5,000 valued digital marketing package courtesy of The Ginger Agency.

On Saturday, 16 Indigenous entrepreneurs pitched their businesses live at the A Taste of the Atlantic Powwow in Fredericton, New Brunswick, for their chance to win cash and in-kind prizes to advance their businesses.

A Taste of the Atlantic Festival is a two-weekend event to celebrate Indigenous culture through food, art, music, and language. This year the festival featured a powwow at the York Arena in Fredericton. Festival Founder and Pow Wow Pitch Alumni, Jenna White, was passionate about bringing Pow Wow Pitch to the event to support local vendors, “My experience with Pow Wow Pitch has helped me to grow and gain confidence as an entrepreneur, so being able to come full circle to now help provide those opportunities to my own community, means so much to me.” 

Pow Wow Pitch welcomed judges Laura Englehart, Economic Development Manager of JEDI, Jenna White, Founder and CEO of A Taste of the Atlantic, and Sarah Martell, President of The Ginger Agency, to adjudicate and listen to the pitches of vendors and attendees.

First-Place Winner, Lisa Perley-Dutcher, Founder and Director of Kehkimin, a non-profit Wolastoqey Language Immersion School, founded her school with the purpose to replenish and revitalize the traditional language and knowledge of the Walostoqey people. Through her school programming, she is able to strengthen and sustain a whole new generation of fluent speakers. Lisa shared in her pitch that Kehkimin is growing and she is now able to support an additional eight students starting in the fall. 

“Pow Wow Pitch is supporting something that is so vital to our people and our language,” said Lisa. “[with the funding and in-kind support] we can make sure that our new students are well supported.” 

The Second-Place $750 Prize Winner was Abby Brooks, Founder and Head Organizer of the NYE Powwow, an event created specifically for the sober community to gather during the holidays to find a safe space to bring in the new year. Abby shared in her pitch what the NYE Powwow means to her and her community and pitched to win funds to support elders, powwow drummers, singers, and dancers. “Pow Wow Pitch has been an amazing experience,” said Abby. “I was glad I stepped out of my comfort zone and took the leap. This is going to get us started for the holiday season and we are so grateful for this opportunity!”

The Third-Place $500 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. “My Pow Wow Pitch experience was unexpected today but so fun!” said Ashley. “It means so much to me that people are recognizing the work that I do.” 

“Congratulations to Kekimin for winning the first-ever Taste of the Atlantic Pow Wow Pitch,” said Sunshine Tenasco, Founder of Pow Wow Pitch. “Revitalizing Indigenous language is such important work and we are so happy to be able to support the future generation of students. Thank you, also, to A Taste of the Atlantic, Ginger Agency and JEDI for supporting Pow Wow Pitch to join this great event to put the spotlight on and support local Indigenous entrepreneurs.”

“It was such a great experience to join the Pow Wow Pitch team to recognize Indigenous entrepreneurship at the Taste of the Atlantic Festival,” said Sarah Martell, President of The Ginger Agency. “The participants in the competition displayed incredible heart, passion, and dedication for their work – it was inspiring. The winners are truly deserving of their prize and will undoubtedly continue delivering their impact in their communities. Ginger feels honoured to have had the opportunity to support the day’s events.”

“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, Senior Lead for Indigenous Entrepreneurship 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 Tara on advancing to the next round.”

All those who pitched at the Taste of the Atlantic Pow Wow Pitch will receive a free .CA domain name courtesy of CIRA, a 60-day free Shopify trial, and will join the Pow Wow Pitch community for ongoing support.