Meet Mark – Chapter 1: A First Nations social entrepreneur 

From: Financial Consumer Agency of Canada


Text on screen: Financial Consumer Agency presents Money Break: A series on financial wellness, Coffee Edition 

Indigenous Peoples have indicated that financial education is a priority for them and complements other training programs in their communities. 

To be successful, financial literacy interventions must be community driven, created by and for Indigenous Peoples. 

Mark Marsolais-Nahwegahbow is making a difference. 

While working two jobs, Mark has begun a new social enterprise to further provide for his family, and give back to his community. 

This is his story.

(Mark kneels by the Ottawa River with the Parliament Buildings in the background. He stokes a fire that is burning in a fire pit surrounded by rocks. The setting changes, and now Mark sits in a chair in an office. For the rest of the video, outside scenes alternate with images of Mark sitting in an office.)

Mark: My name is Mark Marsolais-Nahwegahbow. I’m First Nations and I’m Ojibway and I’m a band member of Whitefish River First Nations in Birch Island Ontario, Manitoulin Island area.  I am currently living in Ottawa Ontario.

(Mark is outdoor and walks away from the fire pit.)

Mark: I pride myself on being a First Nations entrepreneur, so I own a company called Indi-Genius Associates.

(A photo of teepees at sunset appears with text “We are IndiGenius & Associates, An Aboriginal Justice Consultancy”. The photo changes to an image of a birch tree forest with text “Coffee Making a Difference”. The mission statement of the enterprise briefly appears at bottom of the screen.)

Mark: And I also most recently started another company, a social enterprise called Birch Bark Coffee Company which is giving back to our communities.

Text on screen: For every 40 bags of coffee Mark sells, he plans to install a water purifier in homes on reserves for families living under boil water advisories.  

(Mark climbs the stone stairs of the Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health in Ottawa.)

Mark: Because of my passion, I’m always giving back to my communities. So I work overnights and I’m actually a residential school crisis counsellor, and I work the crisis lines on overnights. 

(Mark walks through the hallway of the Wabano Centre.)

Mark: But during the day… I have to run my two businesses, so it’s pretty busy. I do a lot of work around the clock.

(Mark is outside overlooking the Ottawa River. He takes his glasses off.)

Mark: It’s tough. These people are sharing their sacred story with you and a lot of the stories are pretty horrific. People feeling lost, people wanting a voice to be able to speak and tell their story. 

When you look at our communities, a lot of our communities are marginalized and there’s a lot of displacement. I’m not happy about it but I do know that as a First Nations person we have to move on. 

(Mark kneels before the fire pit and runs smoke through his hair. He places his hands over the smoke and looks at the fire pit.)

Mark: And we have to really break that cycle. If we’re going to heal as people we have to break that cycle and move forward and look at the positives and try and really get on with our lives.

Text on screen: Continue Mark’s story in Chapter 2: What summers on the reserve taught Mark about life, providing for a family and personal finances. 

(The Canada wordmark appears.)

Off-screen voice: A message from the Government of Canada

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