Deborah Green is a Cree woman from Piapot First Nation in Saskatchewan, and has lived in Blackfoot Territory for the past 20 plus years. Deborah has spent her career working in recruitment and human resources, specializing in diversity and Indigenous recruitment. She has held positions as a recruiter at an Indigenous-owned staffing agency and within the oil and gas sector.
For the latter half of Deborah’s career, she felt limited by what she could and could not do in her position, and she always had a dream of starting her own business. When Alberta’s economy went into a recession, Deborah’s position in diversity recruitment was eliminated. Deborah saw her circumstances as an opportunity to pursue her dream, which led to the creation of Corporate Cree Consulting in 2017.
Consulting Services Utilizing Indigenous Ways of Knowing
Corporate Cree Consulting delivers diversity-focused human resources and employment consulting services to a broad range of clients. They also offer clients the creation of strategies and polices for diversity in the workplace pertaining to the four disadvantaged groups in Canada, and can also facilitate workshops or deliver presentations or keynote speeches.
Deborah’s business is very unique in that her services stem from a foundation in traditional cultural perspectives, and she has an unbreakable link to her ceremonies, knowledge and traditions. Deborah affirms that customization is the unique value delivered by Corporate Cree Consulting, and that cookie-cutter services are not something they offer:
“I don’t believe in ‘one size fits all’ within Indigenous work; we know that there are 600+ nations in Canada, and not one community is the same as another”.
The foundation of Deborah’s consulting is based in the truths of Indigenous people in Canada: “some of it is beautiful, some of it is ugly, and some of it is horrible”. The end result is that all work is done towards leaving a legacy, and paving a path for future generations so they can exist in a Canada that is less challenging than Deborah’s and her parents’ generation.
“Being an Aboriginal woman who is part of the generation that has been directly impacted and affected by the Canadian history of residential schools and the Sixties Scoop, I, like many, am a product and example of that. These experiences have made me very passionate about making a change for future generations so they are not as impacted by those legacies of Canadian history.”
One of Deborah’s passions is creating meaningful connections between individuals. She refers to this segment of Corporate Cree Consulting as Moccasin Connections. She feels fortunate to have met so many people from across Canada over the course of her career, and she loves to link those people together. Deborah is also a strong promoter of the hashtag #supportindigbiz, which she uses very often, and encourages others to do so as well.
Deborah considers her children to be her biggest success in life, first and foremost. Within her career, she emphasizes that bridging the gap for Indigenous people to gain equal opportunity and employment has been a major personal success, as well as developing and pioneering workshops delivered at the Native student centres in universities.
Helpful Entrepreneurial Resources
Deborah highlights that the Indigenous Services team at Business Link really helped in her journey, and is a great starting point to get a general idea of what is involved in starting your business. She also found the webinars and workshops offered at Business Link very helpful. The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) was another major support for Deborah, and they offer a fantastic toolkit for women starting businesses, which is available on their website.
Other great resources Deborah has utilized in her journey include Community Futures Treaty 7, the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, and the Aboriginal Human Resource Council. Last, but definitely not least, Deborah credits many of her fellow Indigenous entrepreneurs, who she has relied on for support, tools, resources, and advice. In true Deborah Green form, she always networks and builds genuine, lasting relationships wherever she goes.
Learning by Example
Deborah emphasizes that, particularly in Indigenous business, mentorship is crucial because as a rule, the Indigenous community is all about role modeling. Indigenous business is a communal driving force that is holistic and rooted in leaving a legacy for future generations.
Along with another Indigenous female entrepreneur, Deborah offered a mentorship program through NWAC to support Indigenous women who are starting businesses. Deborah emphasizes that Indigenous youth entrepreneurs are integral in the landscape of Indigenous small business.
“Not only can the youth learn from us, but we can learn from them. They are so driven, determined, and influential”.
Deborah’s advice for entrepreneurs is to network constantly, learn as much as possible through all means available, keep up with trends in your industry, and do your research in the trade you operate in. Most importantly though, do not be afraid to ask for help! She is adamant that you only have one life to live, so do not live it with regrets. An entrepreneur can try many different businesses, and they may all fail, but at least they tried; failure is just a way to learn. “Think big, and think outside of your comfort zone, your community, your family, your small town… Know what you’re good at, and don’t let anything or anyone’s opinions limit you.”
The Future of Corporate Cree Consulting
For 2018, Deborah plans to invest in a good marketing plan to gain some recurring business. Down the road, she would love to have a business that offers the space for other consultants to do the type of work she is doing. Corporate Cree Consulting is always open to partnerships, and has partnered with Spirit Staffing and Consulting, to help them launch their consulting services, which offers Indigenous consultants who specialize in different areas.
Regardless of what happens in the future, Deborah will always be working in diversity. She knows she has to be doing something that adds value and makes changes in the area of diversity, inclusion, recruitment, retention, and awareness. Deborah is a role model in the Indigenous community, and is a wonderful person to connect with.
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