By Julia Magsombol 

Local Journalism Initiative 

[email protected]

They say women are great multi-taskers besides managing their families, work and themselves. That’s what Indigenous Women Entrepreneurship Fund (IWEF) manager Constance Jamieson believes. 

“We do everything all at once,” she said with affirmation. 

Jamieson worked at six nations of the Grand River First Nation in Ontario. She said the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB) founded the IWEF in 2020. It started as a micro-loan program back in 2019 because there was a need, but it didn’t flourish due to the pandemic. 

And so they’ve seen a bigger picture from that situation — they decided to make it a grant to help many Indigenous women-led businesses instead. Jamieson said they got Paper Excellence, a manufacturer of packaging papers and LNG Canada (a natural gas facility) on board to help fund the grant. 

“[This fund] helped a great deal when it started as a result of the pandemic,” Jamieson explained. 

She said they pick the nominees for the grants through a draw. Applicants submit their names and fill out applications; those successful are ultimately awarded. Jamieson noted that a maximum of 20 women can receive a $2,000 grant.

“It’s very interesting to see the scope of many Indigenous women-led businesses,” Jamieson said. 

However, this year will be the last IWEF grant. 

“We need sponsors. So we’re actively going to be pursuing that,” Jamieson said. “It would be great if it would continue. Hopefully, we can make more events and grants available.” 

Jamieson said the winners this year will be announced on June 2. 

“What women do is a holistic view. It’s not limited. It’s empowering. Many Indigenous women can see other Indigenous women doing things. It’s inspiring,” Jamieson said. “So whatever idea they have, hopefully there is a support mechanism there — to let them get the support to be able to do what they want to do with their dream.” 

Jamieson used to operate a business travel agency. And who would’ve thought she would be helping other Indigenous women-led businesses now. She describes her work as “like full circle.” 

The 2022 nominees 

The Pioneer reached out to past nominees and asked about the grant they received and how their own business evolved. 

Catherine Baxter, based in New Brunswick, owns Chic Image Consulting, a business that offers image consulting that includes a personal clothing style for women. For more information, visit:

“Dress with confidence. We need to feel comfortable. You should follow the right clothes to make yourself look wonderful,” Baxter explained. “The grant was wonderful. I’m able to continue to buy a digital palette. So now, it’s more sustainable because instead of mailing people their palettes, I can send them a digital palette, which is even better.” 

Baxter is reportably the only Indigenous-certified image consultant in the world. 

Tracy Primeau, based in Kincardine, Ontario, belongs to Nipissing First Nation and owns a consulting business that offers various services. This includes operating a nuclear reactor, promoting women in STEM roles, delivering training on how to be a supervisor, and much more. If you are interested, visit:

“‘I’ve also done some consultancy for companies and municipalities on Indigenous relations – on how to have good Indigenous relationships,” Primeau added. 

With the grant, Primeau hired a local woman to build and maintain her website, which is convenient for her business. 

“All Indigenous-owned businesses have a fair chance,” Primeau noted. 

Brandy Bulycz is based in Mafeking, Manitoba, and owns Freedom Embroidery. Her business is directed at Indigenous art and drawings on clothing. Visit for more information. 

“I was shocked and excited,” said Bulycz when she won the grant. 

Bulycz is a single mother, and juggling her business and time can be challenging with the pandemic. She said the grant helped her spend more time with her children while managing her business.

“It was a huge relief for me. It frees up a little bit of time. With the help of the grant, it was able to help with my business side,” Bulycz explained. 

Bulycz thanks the IWEF for this opportunity and congratulates other women. 

“I would love to hope that they keep doing this for other women in business because just that little bit of glimmer of hope …. when people show that they believe in your business, it kind of encourages you to believe in yourself even more than you already do.” 

For more information, visit: