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Sto:lo initiative means business

Aboriginal fashion designer Linda Kay Peters
Aboriginal fashion designer Linda Kay Peters' work was showcased at the New York Couture Fall Fashion Week last year.
— image credit: Greg Huszar

Linda Kay Peters has worked in the health department of the Seabird Island First Nation for 25 years.

For the last 15 of those years, she has also worked hard to develop her own aboriginal fashion design business, Ringing Bell Robes. And last fall, Peters got a serious boost when she was invited to showcase at the New York Couture Fall Fashion Week.

“This was the first time that this internationally recognized showcase event included aboriginal designers, and the resulting exposure opened my eyes to the possibility that I could dedicate more of my time to my passion for design,” Peters said.

A new business initiative recently launched by Sto:lo Community Futures (SCF) is designed to further help Peters and local First Nations entrepreneurs like her.

Sto:lo Means Business will provide training and financial literacy skills, access to micro-loans, and access to markets and investors through partnerships with the Bank of Montreal, Vancity and the private sector.

The micro-lending program will give loans of up to $10,000 to aboroginal business start-ups, and other entrepreneurs looking to expand.

“There is a direct positive relationship between aboriginal economic development and social development in our communities throughout Sto:lo,” said SCF board chair Shirley Hardman. “As such, the Sto:lo Means Business initiative is a powerful, made-in Sto:lo demonstration of SCF’s commitment to provide support for community economic development to all Aboriginal people living within the Sto:lo traditional territory.”

For Peters, the program is the right next piece to the puzzle for her fashion design business.

“Sto:lo Means Business is exactly what I need to raise the profile of my business and to help me understand how to expand my business while providing the funding to help me be successful,” she said.

• There are an estimated 150 aboriginal-owned businesses in Sto:lo territory, an area that represents more than 10,000 aboriginal people.

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