Former Splatsin chief Gloria Morgan welcomed attendees of the Tsuts’weye Wrap-Up Celebration event held March 29 at the Prestige Inn. (Barb Brouwer photo)

Former Splatsin chief Gloria Morgan welcomed attendees of the Tsuts’weye Wrap-Up Celebration event held March 29 at the Prestige Inn. (Barb Brouwer photo)

Celebration touches on successes of Shuswap entrepreneurial program for women

Tsuts’weye Women’s Entrepreneur and Innovation Network program concluded on March 29

  • Apr. 5, 2022 10:00 a.m.

It was a celebration tinged with a touch of sadness.

After three years of empowering women entrepreneurs in the Shuswap by building skills, knowledge and networks, federal funding for the Tsuts’weye Women’s Entrepreneur and Innovation Network program has come to an end.

A wrap-up was held March 29 to celebrate the more than 600 women who attended at least one of the program’s 40 workshops, 29 networking events, or had one of 700-plus consultant appointments. Included in these vital statistics were more than 1,000 hours of Entrepreneur in Residence support and countless networking and peer support hours.

The evening event was opened with a welcome and prayer by former Splatsin chief Gloria Morgan, who shared the harsh reality of her early life.

Morgan punctuated her moving keynote address with the Women’s Warrior Song and told the audience that women are the ones who will do anything to survive and support their families.

“I want to say that I am in awe of you, all of you,” she said looking at the audience comprised of participants, consultants and mentors. “You worked to educate yourselves and you worked hard to become the strong people that you are today.”

The program was made possible through a 2018 federal budget commitment of $85 million to a Women’s Entrepreneurship Strategy. In the Shuswap, an application for $476,280 over three years was made through Community Futures. “The government was committed to advancing gender equality,” said Community Futures of the Shuswap executive director Rob Marshall. “Only one in 17 women owned small businesses in Canada and they were hoping that by 2025 they could get the ownership up to 25 per cent.”

Read more: Making connections: Salmon Arm business owner re-energized by free local program

Read more: Tsuts’weye project positioned to help Shuswap business women through pandemic

Tsuts’weye, which means butterfly in Secwépemc, was chosen for the local program because of its comparison to butterflies leaving their cocoons and spreading their wings.

“We were one of six organizations to apply in B.C. and three went to Community Futures,” said Marshall, noting Tsuts’weye was surprised to receive another $140,000 in year two.

“The government gave us a lot of latitude to develop as we saw best and we organized quarterly meetings with the other five groups to share information and resources.”

Thanks to a “great team,” Marshall said Tsutsw’eye exceeded all eight targets Ottawa set to help women grow their own businesses, whether they were already operating or at the start-up level.

Carmen Massey became project manager while Corryn Grayston and Andrew Klingel took on the role of entrepreneurs in residence. Other key team members included Robyn Cyr – diversity co-ordinator, Kari Wilkinson – branding and marketing, Brandi Butts – social media marketing and lunchtime Connections facilitator, and Caroline Grover – program developer.

Marshall said many other people joined the team and, whether they were paid or not, were committed to helping participants succeed.

“Having that funding available and being able to match needs to services, made all the difference to the program,” he adds, pointing out that support for women entrepreneurs will continue, with much reduced funding coming through Community Futures.

Rather than hiring individuals for their own programs, Massey and Grayston will be available to direct women in the Shuswap to other available resources.
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