Keshia Moffat has been helping Indigenous entrepreneurs in Eel River Bar as their Economic Development Executive Assistant and the role has been helping her grow both professionally and personally.
Keshia is a recent grad from Mount Allison University where she took a Bachelor of Science with a major in chemistry. In 2016 she was hired as the Economic Development Executive Assistant under JEDI’s Indigenous Internship Program (IIP). Keshia is a go-getter and in addition to her full-time job, she also trains as a CrossFit athlete 6 or 7 times/week, twice a day, and she is taking her Masters in Environmental Sustainability online through the University of British Columbia.
“This job was definitely something I fell into,” said Keshia, “I never thought I would be in the business world. I’m a science graduate and I’m also doing my Masters online but because of this job I’ve begun to realize that the economic side, even in science projects, is so important.”
JEDI’s IIP program requires Keshia to formulate a work plan and to report on her progress. It’s important to JEDI that all participants in the Internship program not only meet their targets but also have a meaningful work experience. In this position, Keshia has helped entrepreneurs with their business plans and apply for loans with organizations like Ulnooweg. She has taken some training offered by JEDI in career counselling, entrepreneurship and proposal writing. In addition, she worked with StanTech on a River Recovery Project and co-presented with StanTech at the International Association of Impact Assessment Conference in Montreal.
Keshia was very shy when she first started in this position but according to her now, “I’ve come out of my shell, and I think that it’s good for me. I always say, ‘Replace fear with habit’.” Keshia also stated, “From the personal side, I’ve gained a lot of experiences. Working in economic development has really been an eye-opening experience, especially when working on projects. When you are on the outside you think things aren’t happening, but when you are on the inside you realize that things take time. There’s a lot of hard work done by a lot of different people. There are a lots of processes in place.”
One of Keshia’s favourite things about working as an Economic Development Executive Assistant is working with people like Charlene LaBillois. Keshia said, “Charlene approached me and told me that she was looking to expand her business. She has a photography business that she runs out of her home with clients both on and off reserve. When she came to me I knew that Ulnooweg has a Cottage Craft loan so I helped her apply for that. By using our services our clients are able to do what they love.”
Charlene agrees, “I think for me, getting this loan has helped to re-establish my credit. It’s also allowed me to purchase additional things I need for my business. I’ve invested about $10,000 so far into my photography business, buying lights, back drops, back drop stands, and baby props. Because of all of my own investment in my business, I couldn’t go and purchase the big light that I wanted to get without this loan. Keshia let me know that this loan was available and she helped me fill out the application. I felt lucky that I had someone to help me out even though I was going down my own path, it was nice to have that extra support.”
“I’d also like to work on a business plan as I want to keep expanding,” said Charlene. “I’ve kind of just been winging it as I go along and keeping track of what expenses I have and getting receipts for what’s coming in. I think I can probably use some more help from Keshia in the future.”
When asked about her plans once she finishes the Internship program, Keshia said she wants to combine what she has learned in school and on-the-job. “I would like to stay in this type of work but I would apply it to the environmental side. I think being in the environmental field, you have to look at the economic side of things and the social side of things too, actually in all types of projects. I see everyone realizing that you have to engage the economic side, the environmental side and the social sides of any type of environmental projects that we do. If you can’t satisfy all 3 pillars, your project won’t be sustainable and that’s what we want, sustainability for the future.”