Indigenous graphic designers, dancers, engineers, project managers, chefs, business owners and community members gathered at the Songhees Wellness Centre in Esquimalt to celebrate the launch of the South Island Indigenous Business Directory.
The new directory is to provide opportunities for relationships, growth and partnerships between Indigenous businesses and other local businesses across the region. The user-friendly directory with more than 50 businesses makes it easy to find an owner and connect with them.
“This milestone is a testament to our shared vision of fostering new connections, cultivating partnerships and connecting Indigenous businesses with each other and new customers,” said Jeff Ward, CEO of Animikii, which built the directory.
His business is a local Indigenous-owned company that builds custom software, web applications and websites.
“I think it’s important to connect regular businesses with Indigenous businesses because as an act of reconciliation, a lot of people are wondering what they can do to support Indigenous peoples. Indigenous businesses are growing at rates faster than mainstream Canadian businesses and are very often focused with a social impact lenses. So changing the world through Indigenous businesses is what this is all about.”
One of the businesses at the launch of the directory was Songhees Events & Catering, which runs out of the Songhees Wellness Centre. They did the catering for the event, filling the bellies of attendees with their modern Indigenous cuisine. Unlike most catering companies, they have a rooftop garden.
“We grow all our own sage, wild grass, kale, cilantro, and a variety of mixed greens,” said executive chef David Roger. At the event, they were serving bannock bites – a new twist on the traditional bread.
Enjoying the Indigenous refreshments at the launch was the CEO of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce, Bruce Williams.
“We can all benefit from being more inclusive and incorporating the knowledge of people who have called this region home for time immemorial,” Williams said.