Awards recognize Aboriginal Entrepreneurs in Northwest. (Tech Scene).
The Muskrat Dam First Nation member not only holds down a full-time job as special projects assistant for the NAN/Canada Bilateral Protocol Process for Nishnawbe Aski First Nation, she also owns and operates a computer company along with her husband Craig Toset.
Toset was awarded the Youth Entrepreneur of the Year Award at the recent Nishnawbe Aski Nation Business (NAN) Awards for her work as a software developer with their company, Anishinabek Computer Services.
"What we build are practical tools that are much less expensive than other similar software," says Toset, in describing the First Nation administration software programs.
The programs carry out various administrative processes in such areas as membership, housing, education, history, health and referral/clerk programs. Eighteen First Nation s communities in Ontario, British Columbia and the Yukon are currently using the programs.
Other programs developed by the Tosets include a firefighter administration program currently in use by Lake Superior First Nation Development Trust. The program covers fire-fighting administration, including payroll, contracts, reporting to Ministry of Natural Resources and location of firefighters.
Another one of their programs is in use by Nishnawbe Aski First Nation for their trapping program. A friendship centre administration program is available for tribal councils to keep track of statistics on their people and includes population, education and employment.
Toset says some of the First Nations using the software are remote fly-ins, a testament to the ease of use of their programs.
The Tosets also stand behind their products with a one-year responsibility clause that allows for modifications and changes as required by the customer, something Toset says no other companies that she knows of do.
The company will be doing second versions of their programs in 2002 and have some more administration programs being prepared for market. They will also be looking for partnerships in the coming months.
Toset's husband Craig also holds down a full-time job at his home reserve, White Sands First Nation, but the couple and their two children live in Thunder Bay.
With minimal advertising the company has been slowly building their customer profiles and is currently serving 18 First Nations.
The NAN Awards have been presented annually by the Nishnawbe Aski Development Fund (NADF) for the past 11 years. Other winners at this year's awards include: Business Man of the Year Award, George Whitehead, owner, Chipia Lynx Head Camp, Webequie First Nation; Business Woman of the Year Award, Laureen Wassaykeesic, owner of Laureen's Grocery and Gas Store, Mishkeegogamang First Nation; Building Communities Award, David Winters, Mishkeegogamang First Nation; Executive of the Year Award.
Albalina Metatawabin, Wakenagan CFDC; Development Corporation of the Year Award,. Moose Cree First Nation Development Corp., Moose Factory First Nation; Partnership of the Year Award, Kathy and Ryan Brady, Northern Outposts, Landsdowne House First Nation.