Ricky Dankewich and Levi Wild, win Professional Services & Trades Semi-Finals

September 12, 2023

Entrepreneurs from Dryden, ON and Edmonton, AB each win $1,000 and advance to the Pow Wow Pitch Finals.

On September 11, 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 Professional Services & Trades Semi-Final:

  • Professional Services Skilled Trades Winner: Ricky Dankewich, the Cat Lake First Nation Owner of Blackstone Concrete from Dryden, Ontario. 
  • Professional Services B2B Winner: Levi Wild, the Michif & Passpasschase Cree Founder of Children Of The North Project Corp. from Amiskwaciwâskahikan (Edmonton), Alberta

Ricky and Levi have each won $1,000 and are advancing to the Pow Wow Pitch 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.

Last night, Sunshine Tenasco, Founder of Pow Wow Pitch, emceed the action-packed program, where the fourteen Indigenous entrepreneurs had the opportunity to pitch their businesses in one minute for their chance to win. 

Judges included Shivanki Singh, Senior Director of PayPlan at RBC; Ankita Wasan, Senior Managing Consultant at Mastercard; Melissa Gladue, Business Development Manager working with Indigenous Entrepreneurs at Futurpreneur; Zachary Pashe, ADAAWE Indigenous Business Hub Lead at NACCA; and, Destinee Peter, Founder & CEO of Tangles Hair & Beauty Salon.

Professional Services Skilled Trades Spotlight:

“I applied for Pow Wow Pitch because I thought I was ready to give it a go,” said Ricky Dankewich, Owner of Blackstone Concrete. “I am driven to make my community proud, so winning Pow Wow Pitch is giving me what I need to get one step closer to providing to Indigenous youth the skilled trades.”

Blackstone Concrete is a professional and decorative concrete company specializing in resurfacing and concrete repair. Owner, Ricky Dankewich, operates Blackstone Concrete alongside his partner. Ricky is passionate about providing high quality professional services to his clients and meaningful employment opportunities to Indigenous youth to teach them valuable trades and business skills.

To watch Ricky’s winning pitch, click here.

Shane Fiddler, Founder of Drop The Shop Auto, was honoured as the Runner Up for the Professional Services Skilled Trades Semi-Final. In addition, the judges also provided three Honourable Mentions: Ryan Ross, Founder of 3 Sisters Gemstones; Candice Perley, Founder of MC Metal Fabrication; and, Ay’Den Abraham, Co-Founder of Forever Framing & Renovations

Professional Services B2B Spotlight:

“I had been following Pow Wow Pitch for several years and was inspired by past winners,” said 

Levi Wild, Founder of Children Of The North Project Corp. “So this year, I decided to bring take the leap and join the community as a contestant with a goal to further grow relationships with existing and new communities and move one step closer to shovels in the ground on a community-scale projects. Pow Wow Pitch has taught me how to explain by business clearly to reach my goals faster”

The Children Of The North Project Corp. (COTN Project), is an Indigenous-owned consulting services and project management company focused on helping Indigenous communities install renewable energy solutions to gain their energy independence. Co-Founder and President, Levi Wild, is working to bring renewable energy to rural Indigenous communities to establish energy independence. The COTN Project’s mission is to provide communities with the tools they need to create sustainable energy infrastructure. 

Levi shared in his pitch that winning would allow the COTN Project to go into communities, build relationships and develop long lasting energy solutions. 

To watch Levi’s winning pitch, click here

Sharon Marshall, Founder of Digital DEVA (aka DEVA Training & Staffing Solution) was honoured as the Runner Up for the Professional Services Business-To-Business Semi-Final. In addition, the judges also provided an honourable mention to Tim OLoan, Founder of the Reconciliation Speakers Bureau

“Congratulations to Ricky and Levi for winning the 2023 Pow Wow Pitch Professional Services and Trades Semi-Finals and for advancing to the Pow Wow Pitch Finals,” said Sunshine Tenasco, Founder of Pow Wow Pitch. “From creating opportunities for Indigenous youth in the skilled trades to supporting remote Indigenous communities to secure energy independency, you are both leading the way in creating enduring ripples of impact. We are so proud of you both”

“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.”

To watch the Professional Services & Trades Semi-Final, click here.

Ricky and Levi will now both 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.