2nd Young Indigenous Entrepreneur Wins Chance to Pitch Business in Vegas

Host Wab Kinew poses with winner Diandre Thomas-Hart, and pitch competition judges Jodi Moskal and Karl Zadnik.

L to R: Host Wab Kinew, Director of Indigenous Inclusion, The University of Winnipeg; Diandre (Dee) Thomas-Hart; Jodi Moskal (Judge), Chair, The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce; Karl Zadnik (Judge), Chair, The Aboriginal Chamber of Commerce.

UW RELEASE – 2014/034

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Wednesday March 12, 2014

WINNIPEG, MB – Diandre Thomas-Hart’s Kanata of Youth web portal has been chosen as the best pitch among her classmates by a panel judges from the business community, clearing the way to a competition in Las Vegas next week. 18-year-old Thomas-Hart says initially it was her passion for learning that led her to take part in Youth Entrepreneurship Education Training at The University of Winnipeg’s Wii Chiiwaakanak Learning Centre, and she’s confident her idea could help prevent loss of identity among other Indigenous youth.

Thomas-Hart says Kanata of Youth would be an online hub connecting youth to Indigenous cultural knowledge, where young people can log on to connect with Elders. She says she knows the importance of such a resource from personal experience.

“It helps me in so many ways,” Thomas-Hart says, “I feel more complete as a whole person, knowing my spiritual background as an Aboriginal woman.”

The course is taught by UWinnipeg’s Director of Indigenous Inclusion Wab Kinew, who aims to teach youth about business from an Indigenous perspective.

“I cannot describe how valuable Wab’s leadership has been in design and delivery of this meaningful program,” says Sharon Redsky, Manager of the Wii Chiiwaakanak Learning Centre and Community Learning. “It has been through his commitment and passion that youth have had the opportunity to learn about Indigenous cultural and traditions. We are excited for the two youth who have a chance to pitch their business ideas at the Economic Summit in Las Vegas.”

Next week Diandre Thomas-Hart will travel with the winner from the last session, Kelly Edwards, to the 28th Annual National Reservation Economic Summit in Las Vegas, hosted by the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development.

When they return, the two will join their classmates to showcase all of the business ideas at UWinnipeg’s Convocation Hall, on March 24, 2014 from 5:00 to 7:00 pm. All are welcome.

Youth Entrepreneurship Education Training is a twelve week after-school program empowering youth aged 15-25 through entrepreneurship education, training and cultural learning. It is funded by the Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) Cultural Connections for Aboriginal Youth program.

The program is also supported by the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce and the Aboriginal Chamber of Commerce, and a private donor who is covering the cost for the youth to participate in the summit in Las Vegas.

The Wii Chiiwaakanak Learning Centre is a community partnership initiated in 2005 under President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Lloyd Axworthy that provides educational and capacity building opportunities. It is designed to reflect neighbourhood needs for an educational gathering place that is inclusive and accessible. For more information on programs and services at the Wii Chiiwaakanak Learning Centre, please contact Sharon Redsky, Manager at (204) 789-1454 | s.redsky@uwinnipeg.ca

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The University of Winnipeg is noted for academic excellence, small class sizes, environmental commitment, campus diversity, Indigenous scholarship, and support of cultural arts. UWinnipeg is strongly committed to promoting access and inclusion, and  is ranked 4th in Canada for reputation by Maclean’s (2013). Find out more at uwinnipeg.ca. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.




Megan Benedictson, Communications Officer, The University of Winnipeg

P: 204.988.7129, E: me.benedictson@uwinnipeg.ca

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