“A lot of what I’ve seen is that Indigenous families struggle with finances and financial literacy,” says Jaylene Base Smith. “And my goal is to bring those skills back to my community in the form of coaching.”
Smith is a 19-year-old student from Yellowknife and he’s the latest recipient to win a $5,000 grant from the Elliot Michael Brown fund.
“It felt really good,” he says, “I wasn’t expecting to win.”
Smith says he plans on using half the funds to go towards his Financial Planning diploma and the other half to kickstart his entrepreneurial goals this summer.
Seeing his friends and family struggle financially, living paycheck to paycheck, over the years has profoundly impacted his life. Now Smith wants to share all he’s learned and give back to those who need it most.
“I would like to see Indigenous families in the future have sufficient funds for their retirement, to not have to worry about the monthly struggle of payments,” says Smith. “I really want to see families just succeed in their life.”
Planning for retirement, buying a home, budgeting, or even saving for a child’s education are some of the ways to set a solid foundation for financial health, says Smith.
“And take control back of our money, our life,” he adds.
Berna Base is Smith’s mother.
“(Me) being a single mother, he saw a lot of financial problems and the struggles that I’ve had to deal with,” she says.
Caring for three children, going to school, and maintaining a job all while trying to put food on the table was a hard reality for the Base family.
Throughout the years, Base says she’s learned a lot from her son and has even started to implement his coaching into her daily life.
“I know, I’ve been selfish in my own ways. Now that I see him, trying to get out there and trying to help other families, in a way he’s helping me too,” she says.
“And to hear that, from your 19-year-old-son, it’s like, wow, it just amazes me,” she adds.
Smith says his ultimate goal is to start a financial firm, filled with a team of other Indigenous coaches to one day bring intergenerational wealth to northern families.
When it comes to advice, Smith told CKLB News. “Start now, because the sooner you learn how this whole financial system works, how investing works and how saving works, the better.”