Meet the first recipients of Young Arts Entrepreneur program funding. For additional information, visit this page.
Ahmed Ali Mohamud
Award winning poet Ahmed ‘Knowmadic’ Ali is a Somali-born Canadian. He is a full-time poet, writer, actor, comedian, speaker and youth worker. In 2011, Ahmed became the first Somali spoken word champion at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word. In 2012, he was given the RISE award for community involvement in the arts and culture and, in 2013, the Artist in Residence at the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute in Seattle, Washington. Ahmed was also named a “Difference Maker” by the Edmonton Journal for his contribution to poetry in Edmonton. In 2014, ACGC recognized the young poet as Alberta’s Top 30 under 30. He is also one of the founders and organizers of the Breath in Poetry Collective.
The Breath in Poetry is a collective of artists and community leaders that are committed to bridging gaps by raising awareness through spoken and written poetry workshops, events and collaborations. Its objective is to empower new and established poets and musicians, specifically those of visible minority backgrounds. Its purpose is to provide professional networking and financial opportunities. The Breath in Poetry Collective runs weekly Tuesday poetry nights that provide both a welcoming and competitive platform. Additionally, the Collective is involved in promoting and establishing youth related poetry initiatives, such as classroom workshops, youth poetry slams/open mics and a district wide public school board Slam. The Breath in Poetry Collective aims to distribute the knowledge and tools required to help artists become sustainable and financially literate.
Aimee Baldwin is from a small, northern city called Kenora, Ontario. During high school, she discovered her talent for working with tactile mediums such as fabric and clay. In 2009, she graduated with high honours from the Fashion Arts program at Seneca College in Toronto. Her training provided her with valuable conceptualization and design skills. Since her graduation, Aimee has been actively pursuing her other creative passion in the field of Ceramic Arts. While living in Toronto, she took several pottery classes with the very talented ceramic sculptor and teacher, Szusza Monostory. Upon moving back to Kenora, Aimee decided to put her skills to use by offering a series of beginner pottery classes. The classes have taken off, and she is currently in her second year of teaching.
Aimee is quite active within the Arts community of Kenora. She recently became a board member of LOWAC (Lake of the Woods Arts Community), and she is in the process of organizing this year’s annual Studio Tour. Her involvement with LOWAC has given her much insight into just how important the arts are to creating a sense of cultural identity within a community.
In addition to teaching pottery and participating in community arts events, Aimee has been working to develop her own artistic identity. In 2012, she launched her online Etsy shop called Ether and Earth. Her style is earthy and simple with a touch of whimsy: “I am fascinated by the authentic beauty of primitive cultures; ancient, symbolic stories; and the magic of our earth & cosmos. Every idea that I pull from the ether is inspired by my life on this Earth.” – Aimee
Moving forward, Aimee plans to open up a full-time pottery studio so that she can continue teaching pottery classes and selling her creations. She will be attending a four-month Ceramic Arts course at The Haliburton School of the Arts this fall so that she can offer a more diverse collection of skills through her teaching. Aimee is grateful for the support she has encountered along her path, and she is excited about her lifelong career in the arts.
Maya Annik Bedward
Maya Annik Bedward is a filmmaker and community artist. Born to a Jamaican father and French Canadian mother, she grew up in Ottawa, Ontario. For two years, she worked under the mentorship of acclaimed filmmakers, Clement Virgo (RUDE, The Wire) and Damon D’Oliveira (RUDE, Lie with Me). She has also taught animation and digital storytelling at the National Film Board of Canada. Maya holds an MA in International Communications and a joint BA (Hons.) in Political Science and Cinema Studies.
After living and traveling in parts of South America, Asia and Europe, Maya returned to Canada, where she began working as a director and producer on several community-engaged media projects. Her short film, The Foreigner, a depiction of the underground Forró scene in Toronto, is set for release this spring. Maya joins the Young Arts Entrepreneur Program with her company, Third Culture, a multiplatform media production house that uses narrative-driven content to challenge textbook ideas on gender, race and cultural identity.
My name is Alexandrine Duclos, aka Bob. A native of the Madeleine Islands and living in Quebec City for almost 5 years, I have a rich cultural background and different life experiences that I want to convey through photography. Lover of animals, arts in general and human behavior (thoughts, ideas, actions, etc.), I believe that photography will help me make people happy and share with them the opportunity I had to benefit from a “helping hand,” when I encountered difficulties in my life.
I am an extremely sociable person, having the ability to put people at ease. In recent years, I have attended a community organization named La Maison Dauphine. I am trying to complete high school, and I am part of the student council. In addition, I have developed and participated in several projects, including photography. For example, I was the official photographer for École de la Rue’s prom. I also produced a calendar (2013-2014) as part of an intravenous drugs prevention project. It was that organization, and a few others, which helped me to develop my young arts entrepreneur project.
In terms of my business idea: I want to create my own photography studio and own the appropriate equipment. I also want to be mobile with my equipment. In this way, I will be able to achieve several personal projects more independently, have contracts with individuals to create portraits, and affiliate myself with Maison des Jeunes by becoming an official photographer during their events. All this will help me greatly develop my skills in photography, give me a much stronger portfolio and allow me to follow my passion more actively.
Located in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Cameron Dutchak’s has been active within the arts for the past decade. He brings personal experience doing large scale graffiti works and commissioned designs on various mediums. As his business continues to grow, Cameron aims to increase awareness regarding social enterprises and community art while engaging youth in new forms of urban expression.
Cameron’s project is based upon re-conceptualizing the idea of what graffiti/ street art can mean within a community. By mentoring at risk and marginalized youth, Cameron’s business (CTD Designs) will offer open workshops in various forms of ‘street art’ as well as create an on-going youth mentored arts program culminating in a public mural. Participants will have the opportunity to speak with professional artists, community partners and business leaders to gain experience in developing projects and the opportunities, which arts can provide within the city.
Devon is a social entrepreneur and changemaker from the Waterhen Lake First Nation in Saskatchewan. As a Cree woman, she has experienced and seen the struggles that Indigenous women face.
Devon is building SheNative, a brand of handbags and accessories dedicated to empowering Indigenous women in Canada through the design, production and fabrication of the SheNative Goods, but SheNative doesn’t stop there. Devon’s vision is to build a community that celebrates and gives a portion of revenues to disadvantaged indigenous women and provides both a secondary and primary income for Indigenous artisans in the creation process. Devon is establishing partnerships with organizations with similar missions.
Devon has a BA in Aboriginal Public Administration through the University of Saskatchewan, her technical Aboriginal Economic Developers Certificate through the Council for the Advancement of Native Development Officers (CANDO), and completed a program through the COADY International Institute of the St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia.
She has experience working with First Nations entrepreneurs and small business owners. Most recently, she finished the EMPOWER Business Program through Idea’s Inc. and participated in the first Global Start up Youth (GSY), and the Global Entrepreneur Summit (GES) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia this October. Devon is also enrolled in the Praxis School of Entrepreneurship in Saskatoon, SK, and is one of 21 entrepreneurs chosen globally to participate in a new global program, the Start-up Generation Global Fellowship program.
Bishara Mohamed was born in Moqdisho, Somalia and came to Canada in the early 90s. She grew up in Etobicoke with an amazing and supportive large family of eight siblings and two hard working parents.
She is an interdisciplinary artist who works with numerous materials and processes, which synchronize with her ideas. She is a visual artist, filmmaker and performance artist. She has worked as an artist and as an arts educator throughout her career with many non-profits and collectives including being a member of Womynation and I Get Out Collective. She has worked with a specific commitment to Black women, racialized women, youth and Muslim women using alternative understandings of history and geography, race, patriarchy, anti-homophobia and gender violence.
Throughout all of these projects the thread that has connected them, was that they were projects that created and held space for storytelling, skill sharing and critically unpacking and examining many items that are in fact lived realities. At times, this has involved creating and holding space for celebrating, affirming and witnessing these multiple identities, to counter the absences of such spheres.
Throughout her work both as an artist and facilitator, she has had a commitment to facilitating spaces for stories to be spoken whether they are the narratives of the structures we live in, stories we choose or stories we tell ourselves. Her vision is continuity of these values; she intends to nurture visual narratives through her business Bayla Press. Bayla Press is attentive to the ideas and the needs of individuals and groups creating unique products that are customized and functional pieces of art. Bayla Press offers handmade, custom-made pieces of art on fabric, clothing and on paper.
Babby Rodriguez Palomo
A true leader and visionary, Babby Rodriguezez Palomo is the founding president of Comunica Media. He is a 26-year-old Canadian of Guatemalan origin who studied management at Collège de Maisonneuve in Montreal. The values and determination that were instilled by his parents and grandparents have enabled him to become a young entrepreneur and a rising leader. Babby Rodriguez Palomo was awarded the Rising Star Award for his emerging business, and he is currently a finalist for the Business Person of the Year Award, presented by the Jeunes Chambres de Commerce du Québec.
Comunica Media is a Spanish-language publishing house, which offers specialized magazines in various fields. It was founded by three young entrepreneurs in November 2012 and saw its first edition published in February 2013. Currently, the company has a team of thirty professionals, covering several sectors, who use their expertise and knowledge to develop a magazine with high editorial and visual content. Comunica Media was awarded the Best New Business of the Year 2013 by the Latin American Chamber of Commerce of Quebec in November. The company’s mission is to present the true face of Hispanic Canadians, to present and promote Hispanic culture across the country, and to reinforce a sense of belonging to the community in order to foster a harmonious integration in Canada.