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Local Indigenous businesses compete in reality show Bear’s Lair

Edmonton’s Mallory Yornwe and Indigenous Box and Matricia Bauer’s new venture Indigenous Bitters are two of 18 pitches vying for $180,000.

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Matricia Bauer was ready when she learned about the new APTN business competition show Bear’s Lair.

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“I have been in business for 20 years,” says the Jasper-based Cree entrepreneur. She offers workshops, touring shows, guided experiences, art and jewelry, and much more. She said, “I thought it was just making a pitch. It was a whim.”

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The idea was something she had been developing before the pandemic. Wildrose She began making tinctures while working on plans for a luxury tourism experience utilizing her college degree in Herbology. When COVID derailed her plans for a “guest foraging experience,” Bauer began her research, bringing in an Indigenous mixologist and chef to use them for food and drink.

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“We had a great time with them,” says Bauer. But I also realized that I have a very good product. . ”

It was the hook that caught the attention of the producers of Bear’s Lair, which can be compared to shows like Dragon’s Den and Shark Tank. Launched in 2021 by entrepreneur Gina Jackson, her series of half-hour shows will see 18 Indigenous business owners from across Canada pitch their episodes to the final winner, with a total prize pool of $180,000. is being followed as it is placed on the table. Airing on Sundays at 7pm, the show is only available on APTNTV and the APTN Lumi app. Seven Alberta companies compete, including Bauer and Edmonton’s Mallory Yornwe, who was featured in the first episode aired on September 11.

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Yawnghwe’s Indigenous Box, a quarterly subscription box service featuring products from indigenous artisans and businesses, is already making a big impact. Launched in 2021, in a short period of time he has amassed an impressive roster of clients and from a $5,000 startup grant he has grown into a million dollar business. Yawnghwe’s business continues to explode, with the Indigenous Box named to the Indigenomics Institute’s 10 to watch for 2022 list.

Government officials celebrate the launch of the Indigenous Box shop at the Airport City Sustainability Campus. From left, EIA Vice President Myron Keane, Saddle Lake First Nation Chief Eric Shirt, Minister of Indigenous Relations Rick Wilson, Indigenous Box Owner Mallory Yonewe, Grand Chief of the Convention Six First Nations, Alexander Furst The Nation's George Arkand Jr. and Alexis Nakotasu Nation Chief Tony Alexis.
Government officials celebrate the launch of the Indigenous Box shop at the Airport City Sustainability Campus. From left, EIA Vice President Myron Keane, Saddle Lake First Nation Chief Eric Shirt, Minister of Indigenous Relations Rick Wilson, Indigenous Box Owner Mallory Yonewe, Grand Chief of the Convention Six First Nations, Alexander Furst The Nation’s George Arkand Jr. and Alexis Nakotasu Nation Chief Tony Alexis. photo by file /sun media

Bauer, who briefly chatted with Youngwe during the show, is not surprised.

“Indigenous people are persistent,” says Bauer. “We have to be. My mother is a boarding school survivor and I am a sixties scooper. There were different levels of trauma that came with different things, and for a lot of people it was absolutely huge, so I’m not dismissing anyone’s experience with a pandemic, but for indigenous peoples, it was certainly like a pandemic. Look at all the things we’ve already gone through We know how to deal with trauma We know how to deal with disappointment We know how to deal with racism I know how.”

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Bauer said working on Bear’s Lair was hard, but it was also exciting. A native of Jasper, where she’s lived for the past eight years, she often feels a little left out, simply because there aren’t many other indigenous people living there. But with Bear’s Lair it was the opposite.

“The makeup artists, the food truck people, the people behind the camera, the people in front of the camera, the judges, the contestants, everyone was indigenous,” she says. “There was a moment when my chef, who works with me and isn’t Indigenous, said, ‘I feel like I’m a poser.’ Look at her, she’s like, ‘Oh my god.’ I remember thinking. I said “Let’s remember this feeling, because in Jasper this is how I feel every day when I’m the only native in the room.” So she was a minority for the first time in her life.

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Bauer is still working on the Indigenous Bitters website, and her plans are extensive and impressive. All ingredients are described and given a unique name. In addition to food and drink recipes, there are also explanations of the origin of the ingredients. For Bauer, this is both a product and an educational experience. It’s also a drug, she stresses.

“Everybody talks about old-fashioned bitters,” she says. “I want new bitters. I want indigenous bitters with indigenous ingredients. I want bead bottles. I want teepee shells. I want people to know.”

yegarts@postmedia.com

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Local Indigenous businesses compete in reality show Bear’s Lair

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