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Empowering Generations: Geena Jackson's Legacy in Indigenous Women and Youth Entrepreneurship

"We are creating a paradigm shift in entrepreneurship for Indigenous people nationwide. I could not be prouder or happier about this initiative. This is my why and what gets me excited every morning!"



Geena Jackson's journey is a testament to resilience, determination, and compassion. Raised by a single mother who left an abusive relationship when she was young, Geena and her brother emerged as independent high achievers. Although she initially pursued Broadcast Journalism, her path eventually led her to work for the Squamish Nation, where she dedicated 13 years to assisting over 500 entrepreneurs. Of all the entrepreneurs, over 75% of them were women! Through this experience, Geena witnessed the remarkable resilience of women balancing multiple roles in business, family, and community. Inspired by their stories, Geena felt compelled to promote women's empowerment.

 

Geena's groundbreaking TV show, "The Bears' Lair," is a testament to her dedication to promoting equity and empowering Indigenous entrepreneurs. Unlike conventional entrepreneurial contests, "The Bears' Lair" is founded on Indigenous values, prioritizing collaboration over competition. At its core, this concept of "co-opetition" underscores the show's ethos, offering six prizes of $10,000 each to contestants, alongside a grand prize of $100,000 for the winner. However, Geena's vision transcends mere financial incentives. She strives to inspire and educate female entrepreneurs about the endless possibilities within their reach.

 

Through "The Bears' Lair," Geena has established a platform for women to pursue their dreams while creating a supportive community of entrepreneurs. This approach empowers participants to not only achieve success in their ventures but also to create meaningful impacts within their communities, both locally and globally. By upholding Indigenous values and traditions, Geena and the entrepreneurs exemplify the spirit of collaboration and mutual support.

 

Moreover, Geena's proudest initiative extends beyond the confines of the television screen. Alongside "The Bears' Lair," she spearheads the "Bears' Lair Youth Entrepreneur Dream Camps," which traverse Indigenous communities across Canada. These camps cater to youth aged 11-18, imparting invaluable lessons in entrepreneurship and life skills. By equipping Indigenous youth with the necessary tools and knowledge to cultivate economies within their communities, Geena is nurturing a new generation of leaders poised to enact positive change. Through education and mentorship, she is effecting a paradigm shift in youth entrepreneurship, empowering Indigenous communities nationwide.


Geena believes that a hidden and often overlooked challenge that women face in today's society is the immense pressure to juggle multiple roles and responsibilities. The societal expectation to effortlessly balance these demands can be overwhelming, leaving women feeling as though they must embody the archetype of "superwoman." However, admitting to the struggle or seeking support is often viewed as a sign of weakness rather than a necessary act of self-care. Geena acknowledges this challenge firsthand, recognizing the importance of prioritizing self-care above all else. She emphasizes the need for women to carve out time for themselves, whether through activities like yoga, meditation, or simply spending time in nature. Geena's recommendation to seek support and utilize available resources underscores the importance of community and collective empowerment.


Geena attributes much of her success to harnessing collective empowerment through the inspirational women in her life, each leaving an indelible mark on her journey. Her mother, Juanita Jackson, instilled in her the belief that every person matters and that a simple compliment can make a difference. Her grandmother, Betty Wray, has been a beacon of strength and kindness, guiding Geena with her unwavering moral compass. Geena's late Auntie Mabel Guss, from the Sechelt and Squamish Nations, shared her ancestral name Tsetasiya, and embodied the values of community care and love through her wisdom, transparency, and generosity. Additionally, her aunt Cindy Peterson has been the cornerstone of their family, displaying resilience and strength in times of adversity.

 

These women, with their resilience and unwavering support, have shaped Geena's leadership approach. Emphasizing the importance of compassion, generosity, and family values, their legacy serves as a guiding light, fueling Geena's commitment to empowering other women and fostering meaningful change. Their collective influence underscores the transformative power of strong female role models and highlights the profound impact that supportive communities can have on individual journeys towards empowerment and success.

 

As we continue to celebrate women beyond International Women's Day, Geena's story serves as a powerful reminder of the transformative impact of resilience, compassion, and community support. Her unwavering dedication to promoting women's empowerment continues to inspire individuals across the globe, igniting a spark of hope and possibility for future generations.

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