The Saugeen District Secondary School of Port Elgin, Ontario, has won this year’s top prize in the fifth annual E-Spirit Aboriginal Youth Business Plan Competition. Their proposed business, Mno-yaamgod, is a restaurant in the native community that would promote awareness of diabetes, obesity and other health issues related to Aboriginal people.

The special awards ceremony for 240 Aboriginal youth from all regions of Canada is aimed at Aboriginal students in Grades 10 to 12. The internet-based competition, developed by the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), features interactive business planning resources, access to mentors online and a chance to meet and network with other students online and in person.

This year’s competition, held on May 10th in Edmonton, involved 161 teams and 534 students from 74 schools across Canada. In addition to presentations by each team, an independent panel of experts judged business displays that included posters, detailed 3-D mock-ups, product samples, business cards, promotional videos and laptop demonstrations.

The Silver Award was given to the Sudbury (Ontario) Secondary School. Their business concept, Debassige Vision Workshops, would conduct workshops for Aboriginals on various aspects of Aboriginal culture and modern day family life.

The Bronze Award was won by Children of the Earth High School of Winnipeg. Their business, Sacred Journey Funeral Home, would provide culturally sensitive funeral services for Aboriginal families. Services include drummers, smudging and traditional dancers, singers and food.

Cash prizes were awarded to the three winning schools in the amount of $2,500 for Gold, $1,500 for Silver and $750 for Bronze. Nine special achievement awards were also presented in addition to the cash prizes.