Party rental business thriving for Indigenous woman in New Brunswick

By Sam Laskaris
Cando Writer

Sabrina BearA forced career change in her early 40s was something Sabrina Bear was not anticipating.

But Bear, a 43-year-old member of Tobique First Nation in New Brunswick, couldn’t be happier with the way things have turned out for her.

Bear spent a total of 16 years working in the oral health industry. The last 11 of those years she worked for the federal government as a dental therapist and community oral health practitioner, servicing clients not only in New Brunswick but Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island as well.

But once the pandemic hit she was unable to continue in that role. When restrictions were lifted and Bear could return to work, she was physically unable to do so, as she was diagnosed with arthritis in her hand and wrist, leaving her unable to perform many duties of her job.

Taking an early retirement, however, turned out to be a blessing for Bear.

That’s because her mother gifted her a large tent, which was frequently rented out as part of a family business. Bear’s grandfather had launched a family business called Pete’s Pool Hall - Bodin’s Native Crafts & Supplies, more than 60 years ago.

Renting the massive tent out was just a small part of the family business. Shortly after receiving the tent, Bear launched her own business in 2021, not only renting out the massive tent, measuring 20 feet by 40 feet, but also other party accessories including tables and chairs.

That’s how her company called Party Bear Rentals was started.

And now Bear has numerous bookings throughout New Brunswick. Her company has expanded to include services such as Bear herself coming in to decorate various events, such as weddings or any type of celebration, or providing guidance on other vendors to hire.

“This sort of business hasn’t really been established here,” Bear said. “There are some guys that rent tents but they are not doing the scale of the work and providing the services that I’m doing.”

Bear has also been selected as one of the four individuals to serve on this year’s Women in Business panel at the Cando Conference, scheduled for June 26-29 in Membertou, N.S.

“It means I’m getting myself out there big time,” Bear said. “It makes me feel honoured and proud to sit on a panel with these other women.”

The panelists will share their own experiences of being an Indigenous woman in business in Canada. They were selected to speak at the conference to highlight and recognize the impact Indigenous women entrepreneurs have on the Canadian economy.

Bear is thrilled with her current career.

“Now I’m doing something I love,” she said. “I can’t believe I can go on my land and forage and help decorate centerpieces.”

In the future Bear is hoping her services will be required at some large festivals held in eastern Canada.

“To be able to do procurement is my other goal,” she said, adding an already hectic schedule has prevented her from bidding on events yet.