Late grandmother’s wisdom guides woman in her endeavours
By Shari Narine
For Melissa Lunney, it’s all about the words spoken by her late grandmother: “Make the best with what you’ve got.”
For Lunney, 30 from the Elispogtoq First Nation, it’s her skills in technology and entrepreneurship that allow her to pursue social justice, environmental sustainability, gender issues, and cultural expression.
A graduate of the Joint Economic Development Initiative Mobile Application Development Course, Lunney founded Appdigenous Development Inc. in 2016, in Fredericton. Appdigenous partnered with RPC Science & Engineering to develop Doorable - a mobile app that wirelessly opens accessible doors as people approach them.
“With the data that I collect through the app, I hope to develop more assistive mobile applications. As the company grows, I plan to hire people from Indigenous communities. I believe that everyone, no matter where you live, should have the opportunity to find meaningful employment without having to move away from home communities,” said Lunney.
Along with furthering her own business, Lunney also serves as market access officer with JEDI, where she works directly with Indigenous entrepreneurs.
It’s this dedication that prompted JEDI manager Stanley Barnaby to nominate her for the Cando National Youth Panel.
“While working with Melissa at JEDI, I have been able to see that she is very passionate about her own business and her roles at JEDI. She is a very diligent with her work and is a great asset to JEDI. Between her experience with her business and work experience I think she would be a great role model for Indigenous Youth,” said Barnaby.
Lunney is thrilled to be in the running.
“I am very grateful to have the opportunity to share my experiences with others. It’s important to see the person behind the business and see who they are, what challenges they faced and how they overcame them to accomplish their goals,” she said.
Lunney says youth need to invest in themselves, particularly in their education, self-confidence and well-being.
“My story demonstrates that it’s not about what you know, but rather what you learn. Every experience is a learning opportunity,” she said, adding, “Know that some things are out of your hands. You can however control how you handle situations and what you do to prevent future mistakes.”
Each year Cando selects six Indigenous youth to form the National Youth Panel, a signature event at the Cando Annual National Conference which will be held in Fredericton, New Brunswick, from Oct. 22-25. Selections for the panel are based on their strengths, initiatives, accomplishments, entrepreneurial spirit, and participation within their communities.