For the first time, Dene Wellness Warriors have been nominated for the Indigenous Entrepreneurship Resiliency Award and the Community Impact Award by the Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce.
Jean and Roy Erasmus – owners of Dene Wellness Warriors company have been in operation since 2014 and have never thought of having an online presence when putting their business plan together.
“We were hit pretty hard when the pandemic struck,” says Roy Erasmus, co-owner and therapist, “we lost 95 per cent of our revenue.”
“But we’re trained to deal with crisis . . . it gave us an opportunity to re-focus our practice,” Jean adds.
The awards will honor businesses who have demonstrated the ability to adapt and respond quickly to the pandemic, as stated in a press release.
Since the start of the pandemic, the couple has adapted by moving their services online, through Zoom meetings and telephone calls.
Now clients can receive counseling, mentorship, and workshops at the touch of their fingertips.
The pair will also help train and support 18 new Indigenous counsellors, through a northern Indigenous counsellors training program, partnered with Rhodes Wellness College, beginning Sept. 28.
“We are two of the few Indigenous members of the Canadian Professional Counsellors Association,” says Roy.
“Our clients tell us that they want to see Indigenous counsellors,” he adds.
The couple has also re-created some of the curricula to have northern-inspired content, “so students have a more meaningful experience,” says Roy.
“We’ve witnessed the Yellowknife business community overcome incredible obstacles by demonstrating innovation, grit, and resiliency,” says Tim Syer, president of the Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce.
“When Indigenous businesses succeed, it benefits the whole northern economy,” he adds.
Feeling the financial and emotional strain during the pandemic, Jean says they were able to take the focus off of what they didn’t have and focus on what they did have, each other.
Voting for this year’s Business Resilience Awards is open here.
The awards gala will take place Oct. 23.