Meet Mark – Chapter 4: Paying it forward 

From: Financial Consumer Agency of Canada


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

Birch Bark Coffee Company

Chapter 4 – Financial well-being

Mark Marsolais-Nahwegahbow shares what financial well-being means to him, his family, and the importance of paying it forward.

(Mark Marsolais-Nahwegahbow is inside an office building in a lobby. Mark walks outdoors in a wooded area on a sunny day. Mark sits in a chair in an office.)

Mark: Financial wellbeing is making sure that you have a roof over your head. I think also it’s making sure that your bills are paid. I think it’s making sure that you’re a provider. I see myself as a provider, as a helper. I also see myself as being able to provide food for the table, whether I’m traditionally harvesting back in my community or if I’m actually going to the grocery store and buying groceries, and even further, trying to make sure that my family eats very healthy and well so that costs a lot more. You have to make sure that you budget for that. We do put money aside for things we want to do, if we want to buy – you know, like we bought kayaks and we put money aside. So our spending is not hugely on materialistic things. Our money is more put towards eating healthy. If we spend a lot of money it’s more on product, like on produce so we can actually feed our minds and our souls a lot better so that we’re really healthy.

(An aerial view shows a still body of water in autumn on a sunny day with cottages on the shore in the distance. The sun rises above distant hills. )

Mark: Obviously I want to be financially independent. That’s my biggest one where I don’t have to struggle, where I can provide for my family. That’s difficult. I’m still working towards that. I mean I have some dreams and goals and I think that as an entrepreneur my head’s always going a hundred miles an hour and really trying to establish what I want.

I set my short term and long term goals and you know I try and stay achievable but being a First Nations entrepreneur I’m always trying to even shoot for the stars and go even bigger. If I’m successful and I achieve that then I’ll be proud of myself for that.

I think developing – and I wish my parents would have taught me this when I was young about developing your educational portfolio, really setting a true path of what you want so you can see what’s in the future, setting a financial portfolio. I think that would have changed my life but again I’m not dwelling on the past because I’m looking ahead of me because I can’t change things behind me but I can certainly change what’s in front of me.

My tips to people is just, really don’t live beyond your means. Really plan for your future. If it means you can afford to put away a couple of dollars whether it’s a dollar or two dollars in a piggy bank, start investing. Focus on what that means to you. Is that a home you want? Is that a car you need? Maybe you’re saving for school or anything. Just focus on the amount you want to save and put away and just hide it away so you don’t see it.

Text on screen: Mark Marsolais-Nahwegahbow also plans to inspire Indigenous youth in Canada to plan for their educational and financial futures.

Mark’s long-term plan incudes opening Birch Bark Cafes across Canada employing Indigenous youth.

Each young person employed in the cafés will be asked to sign a contract promising to invest some of the earnings into an educational or financial portfolio.

Mark: No matter what situation you’re put in, whether it’s marginalization or displacement, we’re survivors.

(The sun shines over the top of a teepee.)

Mark: Indigenous people are survivors. My purpose and my belief is going forward and creating a difference. Coffee making difference, making a change in people’s lives. If I can take that and if I can bottle it and give it to those children or those youth that are feeling vulnerable, that are feeling not wanted, have no purpose in life, feel lost and give them that road map, that’s what I’m creating with this coffee.

All I’ve done is created a journey, a path. I want to create an opportunity for them to really have that vision of what they want. If it means to create their educational portfolio, if it means to create a financial portfolio for them, those ones I think that aspire to be better in life, whatever level they’re at, that’s the kind of platform I want to create for them.

I guess that’s me giving back something I never had, that I never had the opportunity to have. I guess it’s just my way of paying it forward.

(Mark walks outside with the Parliament Buildings in the background.)

Mark: My name is Mark Marsolais-Nahwegahbow and this was my Money Break.

(The Canada wordmark appears.)

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

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