The StarMetro Halifax recently published an article highlighting the success of Indigenous businesses throughout Atlantic Canada (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island and Quebec). The article revealed that Indigenous entrepreneurs have been injecting millions of dollars annually into Atlantic Canada’s economy, with ninety-four percent of their earnings going back into the same regional economy through the purchase of a variety of goods and services sourced in the provinces.
Over 300 Indigenous-owned enterprises are operating in the Atlantic region, and this number is expected to double over the next decade, with the population of Indigenous peoples expected to rise in the region in the coming years.
One of the entrepreneurs mentioned in the article is Savvy Simon, a motivational speaker, activist and essential oil educator who has made a name for herself in Canada.
Part of the Mi’kmaq tribe of Elsipogtog First Nation in New Brunswick, Savvy never imagined she would be an entrepreneur. She earned a degree in Business Marketing, but soon realized that her passion for her people was greater than what she could achieve working in an office.
After navigating her way out of a public service job and volunteering much of her time delivering dancing and cultural workshops, she decided to follow her heart and offer workshops full-time. She stepped out of her comfort zone and created her own company: Savvy UnLtd–which stands for “’unlimited love to give”.
Although she was confident in her passion, the move from public servant to entrepreneur was not a seamless transition “As Indigenous people we can experience quite a bit of lateral violence especially when we’re becoming successful. I’ve overcome a lot of bullying,” said Savvy. “To get to where I am today has not been an easy road. In fact when you’re an entrepreneur it can feel like a very lonely road, but it’s worth it because the more we rise, the more we meet those like-minded people that we never knew existed.”
A mother and a wife, Savvy currently lives and operates her business from Halifax, Nova Scotia. Through Savvy UnLtd, she spreads greater health and happiness as an Essential Oil Educator. By working with her Mother Earth Medicine team and in consultation with doctors and nurses, she helps Indigenous people take charge of their health and guide them on their healing journey.
Savvy wears many different hats and is also a rising public figure and motivational speaker for all ages. From elementary children to government officials, Savvy breaks down barriers and changes perspectives the moment she walks into a room.
In 2014 Savvy was listed as one of the Top 40 Female Changemakers in Canada by Canadian Living Magazine, and in 2015 she was the only First Nations person to speak at WE DAY Halifax in front of an audience of 12,000. Savvy is also a proud member of the International Indigenous Speakers Bureau (see SAY’s cover story on page 8), alongside many other accomplished speakers from around the world. Her love for life and bountiful energy captivate her audience, leaving them energized and motivated.
Savvy has embraced social media as a tool for the launch of her Mi’kmaq Language Revolution #SpeakMikmaq, a movement that promotes pride and visibility into her tribe’s native language. Encouraged by her work, the language hashtag movement has been adopted and emulated by an increasing number of tribes throughout North America, where Savvy is often asked to teach her ‘savvy’ ways of using social media to help indigenize language online.
Savvy is also the co-creator of the Red Road Tribe, a movement that encourages people to connect and rise above in sobriety and self-respect. Savvy has a special place in her heart for helping Indigenous people put their health and wellness into their own hands, and gain empowerment and confidence in their lives. She has gained an online following of over 35,000 for her positive and authentic approach to changing perspectives.
In her mission to spread love around the world, Savvy has worked alongside many other motivational figures like Dolly Parton, National Chief Shawn Alteo in Saskatoon, Don Burnstick and the iconic Buffy St-Marie. Savvy says she has been deeply inspired over the years by the many Indigenous women she has heard teach at conferences, but most of all by her Migi (her 93-year-old grandmother).
You can follow Savvy Simon on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter @SavvyUnLtd, or on her website at http://www.savvyunltd.com.
(Economic Information based on a 2016 study supported by the Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nations Chiefs and conducted by ATN Consulting; Source from the Halifax Star)