A Qualicum Beach woman is one of 20 winners announced in a nationwide challenge.
Ecko Aleck was named on Feb. 17 by the Young Entrepreneurs Symposium (YES) as a winner of their YES Entrepreneurial Challenge. The challenge had been directed at Indigenous entrepreneurs who either started a business, or were looking to start a business, that would reflect innovative ways to promote indigenous values, cultures and economies. Each recipient was awarded $5,000.
Aleck, born into the Nlaka’pamux Nation, said she cried when she first heard the news, overwhelmed by exhaustion and gratitude.
However, awards are not new to Aleck.
In 2017, she received the Fred Sheratt Music Council Award for Outstanding Recording Arts and Sciences. To her, both the YES Challenge award and the Fred Sheratt award act together to ‘facilitate a vision’ she has had since she her days at the Art Institute of Vancouver.
Her business, Sacred Matriarch Production, originally launched in 2019 as a pilot project. When it was well-received by the community, she decided to continue her vision full-time. Sacred Matriarch Production offers sacred space facilitation, digital media, and performance storytelling that is woven with ancestral knowledge.
She said this vision is achieved through the mediums of facilitation, music, sound and film performance, spoken word, singing and shared teachings.
Aleck said she first came up with the idea when she realized that, as a single mother, her life needs did not fit the industry standard.
“As an Indigenous woman, the audio engineering industry and film industry are both highly dominated by white men. I was very certain all throughout school that I needed to be my own boss. I needed to be able to create my own work and I needed to create a safe environment to be able to work.”
She said although she’s met many barriers as an Indigenous woman entrepreneur, the application process with YES was “smooth and easy.”
Her submission was for a pilot project to create a youth council of six Indigenous people aged 16 to 30. Her goal is for the council to met two times a month over three or four months, with each member being paid for their consultation.
“Their input is the foundation to designing the social enterprise. I’m really passionate about youth having a voice and a seat at the circle.”
Aleck will also be working with the Nanaimo Aboriginal Centre, and the City of Nanaimo, to design and install a mural for missing and murdered Indigenous women. This is a youth led project that allows her to co-ordinate a safe space for dialogue with youth in an educative space so they can creatively express themselves.