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Notable Indigenous Entrepreneurs in Canada

Indigenous economies thrived long before Europeans arrived in North America and, due to hard work and ingenuity, a growing number of Indigenous entrepreneurs are enjoying success today. Many are demonstrating a blending of traditional values and an Indigenous world view with financial success. The following are but a few of a long list of remarkable Indigenous entrepreneurs running thriving businesses in Canada. (See also Economic Conditions of Indigenous Peoples in Canada.)

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Jean Lumb

Jean Bessie Lumb (née Toy Jin Wong), CM, community leader, restaurateur (born 30 July 1919 in Nanaimo, BC; died 17 July 2002 in Toronto, ON). Jean Lumb was the first Chinese Canadian woman and first restaurateur inducted into the Order of Canada. She is also best known for her role in successfully lobbying the federal government to change its discriminatory immigration policies that separated Chinese families. Lumb also led the Save Chinatown Committee to prevent further demolition of Toronto’s Chinatown in the 1960s.

Article

Heather Reisman

Heather Maxine Reisman, OC, entrepreneur, business executive (born 28 August 1948 in Montreal, QC). Reisman is best known as the founder, executive chair and CEO of Indigo Books & Music, Canada’s largest book and specialty toy retailer, and the co-founder of Kobo, a top global e-reader maker. She holds honorary doctorates from several universities and a bachelor’s degree in social work from McGill University. In 2022, Reisman was inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame.

Article

Jim Pattison

James Allen Pattison, OC, OBC, entrepreneur, business executive (born 1 October 1928 in Saskatoon, SK). Pattison is best known as the founder, chairman and chief executive officer of The Jim Pattison Group, Canada’s second largest private company, with $10.1 billion in annual sales in 2018. The Jim Pattison Group has divisions in broadcast media, signage, supermarkets, fishing, forestry, agriculture, equipment, manufacturing, recreation, marketing and entertainment. With an estimated net worth of $9.6 billion (2021), Pattison is one of the richest individuals in Canada. He is also a philanthropist, having donated a landmark $75 million in 2017 to establish the Jim Pattison Medical Centre in Vancouver. Pattison is the recipient of numerous awards and honours.