National Youth Panel 2020

27th Cando Conference
Tuesday, October 27
9:30 to 11:00 MT

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Panel Sponsored by CP Rail


Erica Daniels - Manitoba

Teen multimedia program leads to successful career for Daniels


Erica Daniels

Erica Daniels, who owns Kejic Productions, will be one of presenters on the National Youth Panel at this year's Cando Conference.

Erica Daniels’s life-changing moment occurred when she was 16.

Daniels, a member of Peguis First Nation in Manitoba, immediately fell in love with Just TV, a multimedia program offered to at-risk youth in Winnipeg.

“The path I was going down at the time was a negative one,” Daniels said. “Just TV is what saved my life. They’re very much a family to me.”

Daniels, who was contemplating dropping out of high school, was convinced by a teacher to check out the Just TV program.

After seeing other Indigenous youth performing live on stage, she decided that was a venture worth pursuing and to continue her education.

While at the Just TV program, Daniels learned a variety of multimedia skills, including camera operation, production, lighting, audio, editing, public speaking and interviewing.

After discovering some of these nuances of the multimedia industry, Daniels went on to graduate from a pair of programs offered through the National Screen Institute – the New Indigenous Voices Program and the IndigiDocs Program.

She also worked at CBC for about 18 months.

But for the past three years, Daniels, 29, has owned her own company, Kejic Productions, a business that provides video production, photography and graphic design services.

“I was able to travel a lot and document Indigenous stories,” said Daniels, whose family members are primarily Cree but she does also have some Ojibwe ancestry. “And I was able to build connections across Canada.”

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Jay Odjick - Quebec

Multi-talented Odjick makes second appearance on Cando Conference panel

Jay Odjick

Jay Odjick will be one of the youth alumni panelists at this year's Cando Conference.

It will certainly be a different experience this time around for Jay Odjick as he once again participates on the National Youth Panel at the Cando Conference.

Odjick, a member of Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg, a First Nation in Quebec, was on the inaugural youth panel held at the 2005 Cando Conference, staged in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.

As for this year, all of those on the panel are previous participants. They have been invited back to talk about how their careers have progressed since their last appearance at the conference.

Because of the pandemic, however, this year’s conference will be a virtual one. For starters, there will be a two-day segment on Oct. 20-21. And it will then continue again Oct. 27-28.

The alumni youth panelists will make their presentations on Oct. 27.

Odjick, who is now a writer, artist and television producer, has fond memories of his first Cando Conference.

“It was pretty awesome,” he said. “At the time it was something new to me and business was new to me.”

Odjick recalls that back in 2005 he had already self-published three issues of a comic book series. Attending the Cando Conference and hearing various other Indigenous people talk about their ventures inspired him to keep at his craft of writing and drawing comics.

But Odjick said he wasn’t necessarily interested in all of the advice that was being thrown his way when he was a young entrepreneur.

“I had grown so tired of non-Indigenous people say go for some grant money because there’s all this Indigenous grant money,” he said. “That kind of offended me.”

Odjick did end up applying for a grant but one that was open to everybody, not just those who are Indigenous. And he also secured a small business loan.

As a result, he was able to launch his business, Darkwing Productions, which produced comic books called The Raven and featuring the character KAGAGI.

Odjick then took his character to Arcana Comics, which managed to get his works into comic books stores throughout North America.

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Michael Peters - Nova Scotia

Former youth entrepreneur now VP of corporate development for his First Nation 

Michael Peters

Michael Peters, who began his business career while still in high school, is now the VP of corporate development for the Glooscap First Nation.

If there was a Most Likely To Succeed In Business award at his high school, chances are that Michael Peters would have been the recipient.

That’s because even from his teen years, Peters, a member of Glooscap First Nation in Nova Scotia, has been rather business savvy.

When he was in Grade 11, Peters joined the Junior Achievement group at his high school. The group creates different businesses for students to be involved with.

One of the group’s ventures was making and then selling buttons and pins.

“The pins were the big revenue generator at the time,” said Peters, a 29-year-old, who is now working as the vice-president of corporate development for his First Nation.

But he wasn’t content to just be involved with the groups’ various businesses. When he was 16, Peters started his own business, selling bagged ice to local stores and campgrounds.

After purchasing a $400 ice-making machine, Peters, with some help from his father, managed to sell 1,000 bags of ice in his first year of operations.

The business, called Mi’kmaq Ice, took off and after buying more and more machines to make ice, Peters’ business became the second largest ice supplier in Nova Scotia, selling more than 100,000 bags in five years.

In his final year of high school Peters became the president of his school’s Junior Achievement group.

That same year he founded Peters Beverages, a company which serviced more than 100 vending machines in Nova Scotia. The company’s products included soft drinks, snacks and its own line of bottled water, Mi’kmaq Water.

Peters will discuss his business career at this year’s Cando Conference, as he has been selected to be on the National Youth Panel, featuring successful Indigenous people under the age of 30.

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