By Breanne Massey
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
An Indigenous entrepreneur from the Columbia Valley has climbed mountains with her Lower Mainland businesses.
Ktunaxa citizen Beverley O’Neil, who owns O’Neil Marketing and Consulting and Numa Communications Ltd., serves Indigenous clients with facilitation, marketing and design as well as communications from her home in Vancouver.
She has more than 25 years of experience working in community economic development for the Ktunaxa Nation Council (KNC) and running her now Vancouver-based businesses.
In addition to working with all nations as a consultant, O’Neil regularly performs Indigenous standup comedy routines — a skill, she feels, is not that different from working as a consultant.
“There’s a lot of humility in learning how to do standup comedy. Comedy is not about making people laugh at the dinner table,” she said. “It’s about seeing things from a different perspective. Taking ideas and crafting them so people can see things differently. It’s not really that diverse from what I do, it’s just a different platform. It’s no different than strategic planning.”
She added that now more than ever, during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important to have a sense of humour both at work and at home.
“With design, you’re taking things and presenting it so it’s attractive enough to capture someone’s attention. In journalism, you’re transcribing a message in a way that the originator may not be able to convey to others. Why not through a little bit of humour in there,” asked O’Neil. “It helps to set the stage… I think you need to humanize things, so people can feel connected. What we’re really seeing with COVID-19 is that human-connection is so important.”
She encourages the community to take lots of breaks during the pandemic and focus on self-care when possible.
In spite of her busy schedule with Indigenous Tourism BC, Aboriginal Employment and Training Society, as well as for Indigenous societies and non-profit organizations, or government — O’Neil takes the time to work hard and play hard.
“Comedy is usually done in the evenings before bed, what a great way to finish your day,” she explained with a chuckle, indicating many of her bits are focused around her age. “My most attractive trait is that I can read cursive.”
To learn more about O’Neil, please visit designingnations.com.