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Meet Jolene Johnson, RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards Micro-Business Finalist

Jolene Johnson is proudly Wolastoqiyik, from Neqotkuk First Nation, New Brunswick. She is the proud mother of three sons, grandmother of four, and happily married to her soulmate. After living her life in non-Indigenous communities, Jolene has spent the past 24 years reconnecting to Indigenous culture. Embracing her ancestral roots has been a driving force in her pursuit of entrepreneurship. Prior to this, Jolene worked in the culinary and agricultural industry. In 2018, Wabanaki Maple was born. Since then, she has grown her company nationwide and has been featured in APEX magazine, Elle Gourmet magazine, CTV Breakfast Television, Global TV, and Huddle. Jolene has received Opportunity New Brunswick’s Resilience award, Ulnooweg’s Female Entrepreneur of the Year, won the Stacy’s Rise Project and was selected as one of four Canadian women to receive a grant of $15K and mentorship with Pepsico Marketing Executives. Jolene is committed to giving back in a positive way. She strives to reconnect communities with Indigenous culture through her business, to create sustainable economic growth, and to help support a replenished environment for the next 7 generations.


I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur when… I realized the potential I had to create positive change and make a difference in our communities. I was inspired by my ancestral roots to embark on this journey and felt a deep sense of connection and responsibility to contribute to upliftment and empowerment. I love the idea of building a successful business from scratch and being able to make a difference in people’s lives through our products and that was incredibly exciting and motivating for me. I recognized that starting my own business would provide me with a platform to share and reconnect people and communities with our Indigenous culture positively and sustainably.

Entrepreneurship is made for me because… I possess certain qualities and characteristics that align well with an entrepreneurial mindset. I am a creative thinker, self-motivated, driven, and thrive on setting my own goals. I am not afraid of hard work and am willing to put in the time and effort required to build a successful business. I see problems as opportunities for growth and improvement and look for ways to make things better. I understand that entrepreneurship involves uncertainty and that failure is a possibility. However, I am willing to take calculated risks and learn from any mistakes along the way.

The impact I hope to make through my work is… as an Indigenous entrepreneur, I hope to create a lasting and positive impact on our culture, environment, communities, and future generations. I strive to be a catalyst for change, promoting cultural preservation, environmental sustainability, community development, and empowerment.

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned on my entrepreneurial journey is… because the business landscape is constantly evolving, being able to adapt to changes is essential for long-term success. With inevitable challenges and setbacks that are common in entrepreneurship, continuing to be persistent and resilient in the face of obstacles is crucial to keep moving forward. Additionally, building a strong network of mentors, advisors, and like-minded individuals who can provide valuable support, guidance, and opportunities has played a significant and positive role in my entrepreneurial journey.

My proudest accomplishment is… the ability to create a successful business while staying true to my Indigenous roots and values. Despite the challenges and obstacles I faced as an entrepreneur, I have managed to build a thriving enterprise that not only generates revenue but also contributes to the empowerment and upliftment of our Indigenous communities. This achievement is a testament to the resilience and determination of not only myself, but also the collective efforts of my family, community, and our valued customers who have supported us throughout our journey. I am proud to have overcome these challenges and to have achieved recognition and awards for my work, but above all, I am proud to have made a positive impact on the lives of those around me.

The best advice I’ve received as an entrepreneur was… to never lose sight of my purpose and to stay true to my values. By staying grounded in my purpose and remaining committed to the values that drive me, I have been able to navigate obstacles with integrity and resilience. This advice has reminded me to always prioritize the impact I want to make and to make decisions that align with my core beliefs.

The future excites me because… because it holds endless possibilities for growth, innovation, and positive change. The evolving business landscape presents new opportunities to make a meaningful impact, whether it’s through sustainable practices, social entrepreneurship, or leveraging technology for positive change. I am excited to continue pushing boundaries, exploring new markets, and finding innovative solutions to address the challenges we face. The future excites me because it is an open canvas, where I can continue to make a difference, grow as an entrepreneur, and leave a lasting legacy for generations to come.


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