Spotlight: Candace Neveau, ThunderBird Rock Nimkiibneshiinhaszhibik
This Social Enterprise offers educational eco/culture tours and activities near Whitefish Island; focusing on First Nations culture and historical elements of Sault Ste. Marie. Throughout the tour the following specialties are available: craft making, nature walks and teachings.
We recently met with Candace to learn more about her for-purpose business and her journey as a Youth Social Entrepreneur.
Contact Candace at 705–971–8488.
Check out her story below:
Q: What is the motivation behind your business?
A: The motivation behind it is a spiritual connection that I see that society is lacking. You know, that being disconnected from nature and who we really are. And for me that is something that I feel like I can help nourish. The motivation for Thunder Bird rock is realizing to slow down and take time to appreciate things. Help teach people to be able to realize that we are a part of the earth. That’s a huge motivation, just helping people understand that it’s ok to slow your roll and just show appreciation. That’s very important.
Q: What inspires you?
A: Trying something different, taking a risk. To be able to do something that is unidentified, being able to help people. Social entrepreneurs inspire me. People that just do a lot of heart work. Work from the heart is very important. What inspires me also is my culture. My culture always helps me do the things that I want to do. I might take my knowledge from my culture and apply it to how we live in mainstream. That really inspires me to be able to be, as we say in YSI, be an ‘edge walker.’ The one that inspires me the most is my son. I had him at the age of 17. He’s helped me keep my life in check. He’s helped me, you know, we get to grow up together. I wouldn’t be where I am or who I am if it wasn’t for him. That’s what inspires me most.
Social entrepreneurs inspire me. People that just do a lot of heart work. Work from the heart is very important.
Q: Who do you hope to impact/reach through your business? Why?
A: I do work with a lot of youth and, you know, I can’t fix the past but I can help build a future. If I can help reach youth and help them understand a little bit more about who they are, about cultural identity, then that right there, that’s who I want to impact. I want to help the youth. But at the same time, anyone who is willing to partake, and who want to learn. I would never turn anyone away. But the people I want to impact are people who don’t have confidence within themselves to be able to start a business. You know, it’s not easy. It takes a lot of confidence. I just want to let them to know that a little bit of hard work and can bring you success. So the people I want to impact are those people who have those skills and strengths within them and don’t really realize that those are very powerful skills and strengths. You know, a lot of people that I work with that are First Nation and aren’t First Nation they are so talented but no one is telling them that they’re talented and recognizing those things, and so it goes unrecognized. But they have the ability to change things. They have the ability to impact other people’s lives with their story, you know what I mean? I would like to give them a voice, to lead by example because we’re all able to do this. I know there is an alternative.
Q: Would you consider yourself a social entrepreneur? Why?
A: I’m a social entrepreneur because I have a hard time hearing no, because I have a hard time just walking the same line as everyone else, because I like to question things. I’ve always been like that. I like to question conformity, I like to make people think differently, I like the expression they get when I share something with them that makes them think ‘wow, I never thought about it like that.’ This passion in my heart isn’t just going to go away. The analogy of the river flowing and that flow has to go somewhere. All I can think about when this term is used is a prophecy that our people have. There is a shift, an awakening, and social entrepreneurs are people who are doing work and creating their own jobs because they see how broken things are and they’re not going to sit there and live with that. They have to change it. They can’t do anything else but change it. There are people out there and it burns inside them. They (social entrepreneurs) can’t just sit there and allow people to be homeless, incarcerated, addicted and so many other things that need awareness and focus. It’s not about the money anymore, it’s not. It’s about the way you can help somebody. And that’s why I consider myself that as well, that’s what a social entrepreneur is — these new people will arise and they’re going to be changing things and that’s what you see now are these changemakers.
It’s not about the money anymore, it’s not. It’s about the way you can help somebody.
Q: Does this ‘term’ social entrepreneur resonate with you? What words might you or others connect to more?
A: When it comes to Social Entrepreneurship, it’s because I’ve been with my supports; with thinking Rock, with Youth Social Infrastructure, with partaking in some of SEE’s workshops that I understand that term. But when it comes to a youth out of high school, they hear social but they don’t know what an entrepreneur is yet. People that are coming from my background, from different backgrounds, can’t grasp it. When I challenge things, when I question conformity I enjoy changing the language. I do it all the time and a lot of people say it’s ‘dumbing it down’ but really it’s just helping people understand. And a lot of that has to happen, because we have to consider the many learning styles because it’s something that is creating barriers between people, from their learning and their growth. Why should language be a barrier? We’ve got to figure out a way to help them over that barrier. So having things like workshops, different things to help educate, especially the young ones, who don’t feel like they know what they’re doing.
Q: What words I would connect with more?
A: Heart work. Work that you do that is just from your heart. Changemakers. I like that one as well. Edgewalkers. For First Nations people there’s the ‘new people.’ There’s this new wave of people out there making change. People were sleeping but there’s this new movement of people waking up. They’re trying to help. They’re trying to awaken to what happened in the past, to what happened before. To how a lot of people are neglected. We don’t have to live like that. We can function as a community together. People are so isolated and we don’t have to live like that.
Q: What barriers/challenges have you encountered?
A: It all stems from within, from the confidence within myself to recognize that I’m capable of success. I didn’t have that. I had to challenge myself. . A huge barrier was not having enough people who believed in me. So then I didn’t believe in myself. You don’t realize how much one person can impact your life. For example, this one organization slammed a door in my face and being a person with that lack of confidence and having that door slammed in my face, I felt like giving up. You know, that was really hard. Because not everyone, I know that now, not everyone is going to like your idea, or say ‘good job’ there are people who are going to criticize you. Before I met my network of support I knew I wanted to do something different, but I didn’t know any of the terminology. I knew that I was going to start something, but I didn’t know what it was. With social entrepreneurs, that’s probably going to happen a lot for them. I knew I wanted to do something, but it’s a change and how am I going to make that change. Who is going to help me? What helped me with that barrier was my culture. I just kept putting down tobacco and having faith that something would come and the most beautiful things came to me.
I knew that I was going to start something, but I didn’t know what it was. With social entrepreneurs, that’s probably going to happen a lot for them. I knew I wanted to do something, but it’s a change and how am I going to make that change.
Q: How important is a local community of support, face-to-face, human support?
A: I grew this huge brand new family of people that I fit in with. Like-minded people that supported me and gave me new ideas, who were engaged, who validated everything I ever thought. That’s what I have within our Youth Social Infrastructure Collaborative — knowing that there are people out there doing the same thing as me with this new way of thinking and of doing things. I knew I was home, so that helped me get back up. Just knowing that they’re there going through the same things — that lifted a barrier. There is definitely this group of people in my own community that I see, we know who each other are, we see each other at events, and we see each other’s project. We help support each other. Just hearing other people’s experiences as well. Being able to listen to their voice and having my voice heard too. That is a huge support and it’s going to help a lot of youth if we continue that here in Sault Ste. Marie and that makes me excited.
Q: What would have made this process easier for you?
A: Business counselling. A toolkit with support. Feedback and dialogue. Having a contact person, because one on one interaction is best. A toolkit — just to say this what you need to do, here are the steps. I had to figure that out on my own. For me it’s nice to have check list. But it’s also nice to have that consulting with someone, and getting their opinion. Because a lot of times I felt alone. I felt so alone doing this, even though I knew I wasn’t. I felt like I was the only one doing this particular kind of project. And to alleviate some of that isolation it would be helpful to have someone come and give you advice. Sometimes it’s not easy to ask for help, some people have a hard time asking for help. If there was a mentoring service provided, something where there was someone with a similar experience, it would be beneficial.
I felt so alone doing this, even though I knew I wasn’t. I felt like I was the only one doing this particular kind of project.
Q: What other community-based initiatives are you involved with:
- Sault Indigenous Writer’s Collective, which is a space to celebrate and enjoy creativity.
- Rainbow Thunder Bird which offers peer support, cultural identity, connectedness to culture and community.
- Youth Social Infrastructure Collaborative which convenes those working with you to have conversations that matter.
- Thinking Rock Community Arts, which is a youth-led non-profit social enterprise based in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario that practices the art of building community across the Algoma District.
- Social Entrepreneurship Evolution which connects and develops infrastructure for young social entrepreneurs in Northern Ontario.
For more information about ThunderBird Rock Nimkiibneshiinhaszhibik, contact Candace Neveau at 705–971–8488 and visit the ThunderBird Rock’s Facebook page.
Originally published at www.seethechange.ca.