Discovering the Journey of an Indigenous Entrepreneur, Advocate, and Storyteller
In today’s Member Spotlight, we’re excited to introduce you to Chrystal Toop, an inspiring entrepreneur, advocate, and storyteller who has navigated her path with resilience, determination, and a passion for uplifting her community. Chrystal’s journey, rooted in her Indigenous heritage and marked by her commitment to truth and reconciliation, serves as a shining example of how entrepreneurship can be a transformative force for positive change.
Hi, Chrystal! It’s great to have you here. Please share a bit about yourself.
Of course! I’m Chrystal Toop, recently gifted with the traditional name “Double Jimmy Phinisi Debajo,” which means “Story Healing Thunderbird and Beautiful.” I belong to the Algonquins of Pikwàkanagàn First Nation and have French and Polish heritage blend. Besides being a mother, wife, and dog mom, I’m a plant enthusiast and a bit of a social media nerd. I’ve been loving the supportive environment the Chamber of Commerce for Canadian Women has created, especially as someone who enjoys online spaces.
Your journey into entrepreneurship sounds fascinating. What inspired you to pursue your own business?
My journey into entrepreneurship has multiple layers. As a mature student studying Sociology at Carleton University, I realized how my life experiences, including overcoming generational challenges like residential school trauma and street life, translated into a unique kind of hustle. This resilience and resourcefulness were transferable to entrepreneurship, where I could channel my storytelling and public speaking passion. Attending a conference and connecting with fellow entrepreneurs solidified my identity as an entrepreneur, setting my world on fire.
Your story is truly inspiring and unique. What message do you have for other aspiring women entrepreneurs?
Entrepreneurship is empowering, though it may present challenges, especially for those without traditional support systems. My advice is to align your passion with your path but also be mindful of your financial resources. If you can’t afford something, explore alternative avenues. Remember, entrepreneurship has a path for everyone; it’s about finding your unique way and not falling into traps that promise success but yield no returns.
Funding is often a crucial factor for entrepreneurs. How did you manage to fund your business?
Funding has been a mix of personal efforts and collaboration. Through grassroots initiatives and collectives, I harnessed the power of collective entrepreneurship. Grants from the Youth Opportunities Fund with Ontario Trillium significantly supported my work. These grants allowed me to compensate myself and other entrepreneurs contributing to these initiatives. Additionally, my community’s referrals and word-of-mouth have played a vital role in sustaining my business.
Your expertise covers a broad range of areas. How would you describe the key focuses of your work?
My work encompasses storytelling, consultation, and facilitation. I consult for nonprofits, community organizations, and corporations, guiding them to maximize their funding dollars’ impact. I’m passionate about diversity, equity, inclusion, and reconciliation, offering education and facilitating discussions. I also specialize in supporting caregivers, combating caregiver burnout, and addressing issues related to at-risk youth, human trafficking, and safe spaces.
You’re making a significant impact. Where do you see your business growing in the future?
My aspirations include realizing a book project reflecting my expertise and experiences. I also aim to extend my educational workshops and facilitation to a broader audience, especially within academic settings. Focusing on supporting caregivers and advocating for Indigenous voices will continue to be central to my work. Ultimately, I hope to contribute to the movement toward unity, shared interests, and a sustainable future for the next generations.
Being a member of the Canadian Women’s Chamber of Commerce has benefited you. What are your top three takeaways from being a member?
The Chamber’s platform, particularly the Circle platform, has been incredible for networking and collaboration. It’s a dedicated space that fosters interaction, and its unique ecosystem has particularly inspired me. The variety of opportunities shared within the community, from funding to podcast invitations, is remarkable. Overall, it’s a nurturing space where support and growth thrive.
Who would you like to connect with, and how can interested individuals contact you?
I’m open to collaborating with a wide range of individuals and organizations. Anyone interested in centring Indigenous voices, truth and reconciliation work, and diversity, equity, and inclusion can reach out. You can contact me at BlackbirdMedicines@gmail.com. I’m also in the process of setting up an 800 number for communication ease.
Any final thoughts you’d like to share?
As we navigate critical times for our planet, embracing unity and shared efforts is crucial. Indigenous prophecies speak of this era as a time when everyone should be in the circle, collaborating to secure a brighter future for the next seven generations. I invite everyone to engage in this movement toward positive change, acknowledging that it’s a collective responsibility.
Thank you, Chrystal Toop, for sharing your inspiring journey, passion, and dedication. Your story demonstrates the transformative potential of entrepreneurship and the impact one person can make on a global scale. We look forward to your continued growth and contributions to our shared future.
If Chrystal’s story inspires you and you want to learn more about her work and how to get involved, please contact her at BlackbirdMedicines@gmail.com. Together, we can create positive change and empower one another.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
Connect with Chrystal Toop