A letter from Holly Atjecoutay, Director, Indigenous Services
The last 15 months have been a difficult journey to endure for everyone, with the pandemic resulting in closures, lockdowns, distance learning, zoom meetings, and restrictions; distance is now a concept that has ruled our everyday existence since COVID-19 changed all of our lives tremendously. Distance is a foreign concept to our Indigenous communities. For us as Indigenous people in Canada, we thrive on relationships, community, family, and togetherness, as these are key in the foundations of our identity. COVID-19 undoubtedly resonated throughout the entire world but speaking from an Indigenous lens, the pandemic affected Indigenous Canada in ways that we could not anticipate or plan for while also severing our physical togetherness.
At Business Link, we have been here since the first day of the pandemic assisting small businesses in Alberta navigate through the “new normal”. Our Indigenous Business Development Services Team has been working with Indigenous entrepreneurs and small businesses every step of the way through this strange time. We take great honor in those individuals reaching out to us with trust and confidence that we will be there to support and guide in the best way we can. Your well-being and success are what continually fuel us to do our jobs with the utmost pride and care.
Within Indigenous Business Development Services at Business Link, we are always astounded at the strength, resiliency, and determination of our Indigenous businesses in Alberta; the COVID-19 pandemic only solidified our view of that strength. Indigenous businesses face many more barriers than any other group of small businesses at the best of times, we have always known this, but with the added layer of the pandemic, it absolutely has been an extra difficult feat. Although as Indigenous people we are all unique in background, community, and belief systems, one unarguable similarity is the resilience and strength that each and every Indigenous person possesses. That single similarity was evident during the pandemic and the focus, pivoting and extraordinary hard work that our Indigenous small businesses displayed. Although we were not physically together, the togetherness that our community retained through the support of one another in an online world was incredible. Many new businesses were created, those that were operational when the pandemic struck pivoted almost immediately, new target markets were uncovered, and new partnerships formed. We did not operate like we always did, but we adapted quickly and searched for and found the positive in the situation we were in like we always do.
We all hope soon we can be together again, that we can come to your community and hear your stories and see your products and services, spend quality time, and laugh…we miss laughing with you. We want to guarantee you that even if we are not physically there, we are always here for you, walking this road of entrepreneurship together with you.