Call to Celebrate: Indigenous Business Excellence
On November 16, 2023, law students from the L. Kerry Vickar Business Law Clinic attended the 17th annual Visionary Indigenous Business Excellence (VIBE) Awards, hosted by the Asper School of Business Indigenous Business Education Partners (IBEP) at the RBC Convention Centre in Winnipeg. Each year this event celebrates the achievements of Indigenous businesses in Manitoba.
Law students at the Faculty of Law learn a lot about the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal-Crown relations, intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism as well as other subjects. However, there is also a need for law students to get outside of classrooms to learn more about Indigenous entrepreneurship and see first-hand examples of Indigenous economic development and Indigenous business excellence which is vital to learning and witnessing Reconciliation in action. This is exactly what Business Law Clinic students wanted to do in attending the Asper School of Business, Indigenous Business Education Partners (IBEP) VIBE Awards which recognized and celebrated this year’s VIBE Award winners Dreamcatcher Promotions and La Brasserie Nonsuch Brewing Co.
Dreamcatcher Embroidery was founded in 2011 by Michelle Cameron as a home-based business, which evolved into Dreamcatcher Promotions in 2013 to reflect their expanding services. Today, with a team of 56 staff members operating out of Swan Lake First Nation Urban Reserve, the company supplies promotional products and apparel to organizations nationwide and holds the distinction of being the largest Indigenous-owned promotions company in Canada. Explore their offerings on the Dreamcatcher Promotions website.
La Brasserie Nonsuch Brewing Co., a Métis-Francophone-majority-owned business, serves up some of the best brews and fare in the province. Led by Matthew Sabourin, along with co-founders Mark Borowski, Ben Myers and Ty Johnston, the business aims to create special moments for customers to realize a culturally richer Winnipeg. The team’s vision is “one where our home continues to flourish, becoming more sustainable, diverse, equitable, inclusive, progressive, and just.” Learn more about their story on the Nonsuch Brewing website.
Rebecca Penner 3L, JD Candidate 2024, shared her unique perspective as an Asper Business School B.Comm alum and as a law student currently working at the Business Law Clinic, “It was very fulfilling to see people from all backgrounds joining together as Manitobans to celebrate these fantastic organizations as they should be celebrated, with traditional songs and ceremony. I remember attending this event as a student at the Asper School of Business and being so proud of my peers for facilitating such a celebration and redirecting the spotlight to Indigenous success. Attending the VIBE Awards now as a law student provided an opportunity to see how supporting Indigenous people with their businesses can create lasting, tangible good for Manitoban communities today and in the future, and I look forward to playing a small part in that future as a Manitoban lawyer.”
Law student Jamie Robertson 3L, JD Candidate 2024, shared her thoughts about the event, “It was an honour to attend the VIBE Awards and be in the presence of so many amazing and successful Indigenous entrepreneurs. Hearing from the award winners was incredibly impactful – we are very fortunate to have such strong business leaders in Manitoba. I am grateful to the L. Kerry Vickar Business Law Clinic for allowing students like myself the opportunity to attend this prestigious event honouring Indigenous entrepreneurs.”
The VIBE Awards was an inspiring and unique opportunity for the law students to meet many attendees including Diane Roussin [BA (Sociology)/BrandonU; BSW/UManitoba], a very well-known community leader, social innovator, and member of the University of Manitoba Board of Governors, Manitoba Public Insurance, The Winnipeg Foundation, Winnipeg Art Gallery, and North Forge, to name a few. Currently Project Director at the Winnipeg Boldness Project, her vast and impressive work is a reminder of the importance and need for social innovation and the power of collaboration in promoting and continuing work on solving problems, removing barriers, and providing opportunities for others to achieve and contribute to communities which is a responsibility for all and should be supported.
Congratulations to Dreamcatcher Promotion and La Brasserie Nonsuch Brewing Co. and much thanks to the Asper School of Business Indigenous Business Education Partners (IBEP) for organizing this truly inspiring event that provided the opportunity for so many to gather to become better educated, more aware and witness Indigenous business excellence and achievement in practice, and also learning about the importance of providing opportunities and support to others along the path that we all must travel together towards Reconciliation. The L. Kerry Vickar Business Law Clinic excitedly awaits next year’s awards!