PHOTO: 15-year-old Métis Founder of Ohana Made Designs Telia Lafontaine, 2021 Pow Wow Pitch Youth Winner.

Telia Lafontaine, Ohana Made Designs wins Youth Semi-Final

September 26, 2021

Three Indigenous youth from Saskatchewan advance to the Finals

On Saturday evening, Pow Wow Pitch, North America’s premier pitch competition for Indigenous entrepreneurs, presented in partnership with RBCShopify and Facebook, announced 15-year-old Métis (Cree and Anishnabe) Founder of Ohana Made Designs Telia Lafontaine as the 2021 Pow Wow Pitch Youth Winner.

Telia has won $1,000 and has advanced to the Finals along with siblings Ruby Mae Daniels and Lee Edna Daniels, the 14-year-old team members of ‘3R Innovative Imaging’ from One Arrow First Nation in Saskatchewan. The three young entrepreneurs are advancing to the Finals for a chance to win $25,000 to grow their businesses.

This Summer, 1,642 Indigenous entrepreneurs from across Turtle Island (Canada, the United States and Mexico) submitted one-minute video pitches of their businesses to win funds and support. In August, Pow Wow Pitch announced the Semi-Finalists and paired them with mentors to refine their business pitches in preparation for their presentation to the judges

On Saturday, young Indigenous entrepreneurs from across Turtle Island pitched to a panel of judges, including RBC Vice President of Real Estate and Construction Services Carla Woodward; Shopify Senior Lead of Community and Underrepresented Entrepreneurs Brandon Davenport; NACCA National Program Manager Kevin Rose, Square Small Business and Community Advocate Martin Guerrero; and, Pow Wow Pitch Alumni and Owner of Sequoia Soaps Michaelee Lazore.

Pow Wow Pitch’s Founder Sunshine Tenasco announced the judges’ selection of the entrepreneurs advancing to the Finals and the Youth Winner. 

Telia Lafontaine is the Co-Founder of Ohana Made Designs and the 2021 Pow Wow Pitch Youth Winner. Ohana Made Designs is a small handmade jewelry business that creates accessory pieces influenced by Telia’s Métis and Native Hawaiian cultures. Telia and her sisters work together on the business, each contributing to the creation of the jewelry.

“I applied for Pow Wow Pitch because it was the perfect opportunity for someone like me, an Indigenous youth entrepreneur,” said Telia Lafontaine. “So far, we have just grown Ohana with the support of family, but Pow Wow Pitch has shown me that there really is an ‘ohana’, a community of mentors and friends to network with and support me. With the prize funds, I am creating a professional website to feature and sell my products and purchasing more supplies so my sisters and I can work more efficiently (and keep up with schoolwork while building the business).”

Also moving onto the Finals as runner-ups are Ruby Mae Daniels and Lee Edna Daniels, representing ‘3R Innovative Imaging’ (re-use, re-invent, re-cycle), a youth business owned and operated by a group of 15 grade 5 to grade 9 students from One Arrow First Nation. The business takes cabinet doors and wood destined for the landfill and turns them into beautiful pieces of Indigenous artwork sold and featured in gift stores across Saskatchewan.

“Our goal in applying for Pow Wow Pitch is to motivate, inspire and empower other Indigenous youth to create their own business and to have the same opportunities that we have had,” said Ruby Mae Daniels. “If we win at the Finals, we will build a website, launch a social media presence, and create a kit with supplies and instructions to send to as many First Nations communities across Turtle Island as possible so other youth can do what we are doing too and benefit from business and entrepreneurship.”

“Congratulations to Telia, Ruby and Lee on advancing to the 2021 Pow Wow Pitch Finals,” said Sunshine Tenasco, Founder of Pow Wow Pitch. “Your resilience, creativity and commitment to celebrating and sharing our diverse Indigenous culture while making an impact is a testament to how our unique style of business can and will create a better future for us all.” 

“Pow Wow Pitch is a tremendous showcase of Indigenous innovation and entrepreneurship,” says Dale Sturges, National Director for Indigenous Financial Services at RBC. “Indigenous entrepreneurs play a critical role in creating innovative solutions, sustainable communities, economic prosperity. It’s an honour for RBC to be part of the Pow Wow Pitch this year as we play our part to put a spotlight on Indigenous innovations and share their inspiring entrepreneurial stories with Canadians at large. We’re so proud of all of our participants, finalists and winners, and we will continue to support their growth and success in the future.”

“We’re honoured to be a part of the Pow Wow Pitch competition and play a role in supporting these incredibly innovative entrepreneurs as they start and scale their businesses,” said Garrick Tiplady, Vice President and Country Director, Facebook & Instagram Canada. “Congratulations to the semi-finalists and we wish them the best of luck in the next round!” 

Click here to watch the Youth Semi-Finals.

Telia, Ruby and Lee are advancing to the 2021 Pow Wow Pitch Final set to air on October 20, 2021. The entrepreneurs are pitching to win one of the following prizes: $3,000 for the Alumni Choice Prize, $5,000 for 3rd place, $10,000 for 2nd place, and $25,000 for 1st place. 

Everyone can also register for free to watch the Pow Wow Pitch Finals to watch the youth pitch for the big prizes, airing on October 20. Click here to register now.