Asper awards celebrate Indigeneity in business

Winners Michelle Cameron, Matthew Sabourin honoured as business leaders

Michelle Cameron and Matthew Sabourin, two Winnipeg business people, were honoured earlier this month with awards in Indigenous business. 

Nov. 16 marked the 17th annual Visionary Indigenous Business Excellence (VIBE) award celebration and fundraiser held by the Asper school of business’s Indigenous Business Education Partners  department. 

Michelle Cameron, CEO of Dreamcatcher Promotions, Indigenous Nations Apparel Company (INAC) and Dreamcatcher Executive Offices, shared about her experience as an Indigenous woman in the business world. 

“I’m an entrepreneur in my heart and soul,” said Cameron.

“For me, Dreamcatcher is a symbol of our Indigenous culture,” she said. “When you think Dreamcatcher, it goes to say who we are and why I’ve started my company and pursued my dream.” 

“To be showcased and honoured that night, it just proved what is possible when you dream big.”  

“I love being a part of the growth in our community, and I love seeing our people wearing product with Indigenous artwork on it because it’s showing pride,” she said. 

Only a few years ago, Cameron did not see many people wearing clothing that reflected Indigenous culture.

“There was a time when most of us were ashamed of being Indigenous or showcasing our culture on clothing,” she said.

“I love creating a store where you can go in there and every single thing might appeal to an Indigenous person.”

Dreamcatcher Promotions is currently Canada’s largest Indigenous-owned promotional company, selling a variety of products with Indigenous designs. Its inventory is available for purchase online or at the INAC store in Polo Park. 

President and co-founder  of Nonsuch Brewing Co. Matthew Sabourin said he   has “always felt so inspired by the recipients, their speeches, just the whole idea.” He added it was an honour “to be on the recipient end,” and hopes to be an inspiration to others with his success. 

Nonsuch Brewing Co. was named after the historic vessel, the Nonsuch, said Sabourin. 

Although the Nonsuch’s role in the fur trade was significant, Sabourin said that “some people see that as a negative thing, and I want to believe that is a very positive thing because this is what I’ve come from.” 

Sabourin said they started the company with the hope of making the province proud. “We say that the company is our love letter to Manitoba,” he said.

He said they dream of a “more sustainable, more just, more equitable, more diverse and more prosperous” Manitoba, and Nonsuch embodies that. 

Sabourin noted the significance of celebrating Indigenous business owners at a critical moment in the province’s Indigenous history. Sabourin believes “we’re in a very special time,” especially with Manitoba’s first-ever First Nations premier being elected. 

“I’m so thrilled and honoured to be an entrepreneur during this period, and I think that this is a wonderful opportunity for the Indigenous community to get the spotlight they’ve always deserved,” Sabourin said.