Mallory Graham, a citizen of Curve Lake First Nation who owns Tribal Trade Co., was a Women in Business panelist at this year’s Cando Conference in Gatineau, Que.
By Sam Laskaris
GATINEAU, QUE. – Though she’s just 27, Mallory Graham knows a thing or two about business.
While growing up in her community, the Curve Lake First Nation citizen learned the nuances of business through her family interests.
Over the years, Graham’s family dabbled in various ventures. Their business interests include owning an arcade, restaurant, operating a post office outlet as well as a gas and variety store in their First Nation.
Graham went on to study and graduate with an Honors Bachelor of Administration degree from Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo.
A couple of months after graduating in 2013, Graham opened up her own business, Rosey’s Trading Post, in her home community. Rose is Graham’s maiden name.
The business, which initially was based out of a little shack, sells Indigenous products including clothing, footwear, accessories and gifts.
Graham moved her business to a larger location in her community in 2015. This past July, she rebranded the company to its current name, Tribal Trade Co.
“The name is more inclusive to all nationalities and all backgrounds,” Graham said. “And we think all people are tribal.”
A good chunk of the business Tribal Trade Co. does is online through its website.
Graham’s business acumen was also thrust into the national spotlight Oct.27-30 as she was one of four individuals chosen to speak at the Women in Business panel at the Cando Conference staged in Gatineau, Que.
The panelists spoke on the first day of the event at the Hilton Lac-Leamy in Gatineau.
Cando is an organization that promotes economic development in Indigenous communities across Canada.
Graham was thrilled to be asked to be part one of the Women in Business panelists, who made presentations about their companies, to participate in a Questions and Answers sessions about Indigenous business practices.
“It’s really great,” Graham said of her participation. “It’s really amazing. And it really is a dream come true.”
More than 300 delegates from across Canada are participating in this year’s Cando Conference.
Graham was keen to take part and not just because she is one of the panel members.
“I also came here to learn,” she said. “I’m a huge proponent of learning. I was interested to hear my fellow panelists and also other speakers.”
Besides growing up with her family businesses, Graham has been able to translate some of her athletic accomplishments into the business world.
She represented Team Ontario South at the National Aboriginal Hockey Championships from 2006-11. She also competed in softball, representing Ontario, at the North American Indigenous Games in 2006 and ’08. Additionally, she was on the Curve Lake women’s squad that participated at the Canadian Native Fastball Championships in 2016.
“It helped me be successful in business,” Graham said of the dedication she displayed in her previous athletic pursuits.
The three others on the Women in Business panel were Jolene Johnson, Victoria LaBillois and Marie St-Gelais.
Johnson is the CEO and president of Wabanaki Maple, a company based out of the Tobique First Nation in New Brunswick that sells maple syrup products.
LaBillois is a Mi’kmaq entrepreneur from Listuguj, Que., who owns an excavation company and rental properties and co-owns a construction business.
And St-Gelais is an Innu civil engineer from Pessimit in Quebec, who has 13 years of experience as a design engineer, manager and project manager.