My name is Mark Marsolais-Nahwegahbow and I am First Nations (Ojibwe) and a Band Member of Whitefish First Nations located in Ontario. I am on a mission to raise funds to help fix the infrastructures and poverty in my communities across Canada by building the first Indigenous commercial coffee roasting facility on a First Nations Reserve that will give back and create employment.
- There are over 635 First Nations communities in Canada
- Over 25% of Indigenous people ( First Nations, Métis and Inuit) are living in poverty
- Over 60% of our children live in poverty in some provinces in Canada.
- Studies show 28% of First Nations and 30% of Inuit people in Canada live in overcrowded homes and poor living conditions.
- Some communities have had undrinkable water for over 20 years
- Boiled Water Advisory, Do Not Consume, Do Not Use, Short & Long-Term
I do not want to see the next generations of my people, especially the youth suffer so that is why I am asking for your help.
Most recently I learned about this crowdfunding site and decided I had nothing to lose and everything to gain to share my story and hopefully make a difference.
Roughly 3 1/2 years ago I created an online First Nations coffee company called Birch Bark Coffee Company to bring awareness and education and raise money to help with the water crisis in communities across Canada with a focus on changing peoples lives. I could not afford to rent or open a coffee shop so I saved some money up and created an e-commerce store and began my journey of 'Coffee Making a Difference'. I never knew the intricacies of the food industry, nor how difficult it was to scale up and even more so if you do not have the capital to grow it adds to the problem and even worse, being part of the BIPOC community proved to be another road block because there are not very many of us at the corporate levels or for that matter exporting our products. I want to change this worldly view.
I feel I could do more and I really could use your help to build the first Indigenous commercial coffee roasting facility on a First Nations reserve from the ground up. Giving back is important and as a visionary I see an opportunity to address and fix several problems and bring my communities out of poverty and help rebuild our infrastructures. I am not alone in this quest and have established myself as a First Nations entrepreneur making a difference.
I have the support of a non-profit organization called 'Life From Water' and they consist of engineers that have designed and built better infrastructures in 4 countries and brought clean drinking water to almost 600,000 people. They want to help our communities become a better place to live.
I have created an Indigenous Inclusion Business Model that is about giving back and families helping families. It is a shift from corporate thinking.
I am asking for your help to raise $500,000 by March 2023 to begin this project. I will also seek the assistance from an organization on my reserve called Waubatek that will match a percentage of funding once I reach my goal. In addition to Ontario's announcement to help with a new strategy called the Agri-food Processing Fund Program. All these programs will match dollar for dollar and that will help with building the facility.
Many communities have seen 4 generations go by with the same poor socio-economic hardships that has been felt across Canada. Poor infrastructures, Lack of clean water, lack of education, lack of employment and many other factors remain barriers to my people. I truly believe there is a shift happening in our world where people are wanting to be heard and really want to help where they can.
In 2015 when the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation came out it created a road map. It became a driving force to understand what healing had to be done. Business reconciliation is also part of an important step to working together to build a prosperous Canada. I am focused on helping the Indigenous economy by creating employment and strengthening our infrastructures. I believe by doing this it will help strengthen and heal many communities that suffer from metal wellness, suicide, intergenerational traumas and poor living conditions.
I have faced many barriers as a start-up company and know it takes capital and I also know I cannot do this on my own. My resilience to not remain marginalized and to be able to push through the business barriers to gain access to the same opportunities as the larger coffee distributers in the world is stead fast.
My passion is what drives me. My purpose is clear and I ask you, the people who care about social impacts and bettering our planet to join me in making a difference. I have thought, many times over, what if I could ask everyone in our world to purchase one bag of Birch Bark Coffee, 8 billion people on this planet to be exact. I could literally end the water crisis in my communities overnight, wouldn't that be something!
It is a dream that is close to my heart and I often share in my prayers to my Guardian Angel and Creator.
It is very clear that these dollars are just the beginning process and much more funding will be necessary, but I must start somewhere. The dollars will go toward hiring the right team to design and construct the facility, purchase of equipment and hiring the team to oversee production and distribution. In collaboration with Indigenous architect students from Laurentian University and Indigenous construction companies we will work towards bettering our communities.
Ever dollar amout helps me to make a difference...
Chi-Miigwetch & Thank you
Founder of Birch Bark Coffee Company Inc.