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Research, entrepreneurship youth receive Winnipeg Wellness Grant

It was a much smaller Global Dignity Day in-person this past October, but the cultural resource centre youth at 1864 Notre Dame still managed to hit a home run. Guided by entrepreneurship mentor Giovanna Mingarelli of Redmond-based MC2, Inc. the Winnipeg youth connected with more than 100 locations from around the world.

Research, entrepreneurship youth receive Winnipeg Wellness Grant

The Urban Indigenous Entrepreneurship Program at 1864 Notre Dame have received a $1,500 donation from the Winnipeg Wellness Grant Program!

The Winnipeg Wellness Grant Program is a one-time initiative funded from the Federal Safe Restart Agreement providing up to $40,000 per electoral ward to support community activities and initiatives that reduce the emotional, physical and spiritual stress of the COVID-19 pandemic and allow residents to connect with one another in a safe way.

Winnipeg Wellness Grant Program
Funding to support Indigenous youth and entrepreneurship funding was made possible thanks to the Winnipeg Wellness Grant Program.

“I am pleased to support the Urban Indigenous Entrepreneurship Program,” said Councillor Gillingham. “I believe that learning and growth happens when people come together across generations, cultures and borders.”

The home-grown youth and Elders-driven, arts-oriented cultural entrepreneurship initiative was recommended for Winnipeg Wellness Grant Program support by Winnipeg St. James Ward City Councillor Scott Gillingham. it was also recently the subject of an article in Nunavut’s Kivalliq News.

Creativity for Entrepreneurship course was launched in January 2021 with instruction from Dr. Aparna Katre, PhD at the University of Minnesota Duluth. Development of the course was also inspired by US National Science Foundation-funded research by Dr. Olaf Kuhlke. Their project worked with Indigenous peoples in Alaska and Nunavut to explore models for digital and cultural entrepreneurship in northern and Indigenous communities.

Public health precautions have cancelled much of the fledgling group’s in-person and public programming this year, but it hasn’t slowed them down. They’re keeping busy in the virtual world with research meetings and participating in a new, five-week online cultural entrepreneurship course.

Dr. Aparna Katre, PhD from the University of Minnesota Duluth is one of the professors delivering the cross-cultural, cross-border Creativity for Entrepreneurship course with Indigenous youth from Winnipeg, Minnesota and Nunavut.

Entire families are learning together.

Jamie Bell, Urban Indigenous Entrepreneurship Program at 1864 Notre Dame

“One year ago, this was an empty, unused storage space,” Bell says. In just over a year the program has seen youth, their parents and even some of their grandparents sign up for the experimental pilot program, which now includes 10 Metis and Inuit students from Winnipeg and Nunavut, as well as 20 students from as far away as Minnesota and India.

“We greatly appreciate this wonderful gesture of support from the City of Winnipeg,” Bell said. “With support from the Winnipeg Wellness Grant Program, we’re able to continue supporting the safe re-start and continued delivery of projects and resilience-related programming for our urban Inuit and Metis youth and entrepreneurs here in Winnipeg.”

Winnipeg students Masha-May Fotheringham (St. Mary’s Academy), Tootoo Fotheringham and Pangniq Porter (St. Paul’s High School) have been connecting with artists, mentors and entrepreneurs like Tara Baswani and Remi Lemieux from Montreal-based Lembas Works.

The cultural resource centre at 1864 was established with little more than an unused storage room. In just over one year, it has become a successful international initiative. And while the group has seen its first year significantly disrupted by the circumstances of Covid-19, they’ve continued to link and collaborate across a number of initiatives, such as: Global Dignity Day 2020 and the ArcticNet-funded Inclusion in Northern Research Project.

The project, which launched in January 2020, is also supported by mentors and entrepreneurs from Indigenous-owned businesses in Winnipeg and the St. James Ward like the Arctic Buying Company Winnipeg, and the Future Indigenous Technologies Corporation.

This spring, several of the Winnipeg youth will apply their film, app development and artistic skills with youth from Nunavut and Columbia to the “Our People, Our Climate: See The World Through Our Eyes” documentary project. This growing international arts and climate change initiative will be presented this year at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, COP 26 in Glasgow Scotland.

Also coming up this next month are a number of exciting learning opportunities. On March 1, youth, students and researchers will explore storytelling with resilience researcher Dr. Andrea Breen, PhD from the University of Guelph along with TIME science communicator and former Rosalynn Carter Fellowship for Mental Health Journalism Fellow David Bjerklie.

And, on March 19, members from the group will reflect on their entrepreneurial learning experiences virtually at the Arctic Science Summit Week in Lisbon, Portugal. They will also be presenting at the ArcticNet Annual Scientific Meetings in Toronto this December.

Click here to learn more about the Winnipeg Wellness Grant Program.

For inquiries or more information, please contact: Marie-José Naud ( or Jamie Bell (