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Vancity supports Reconciliation in Action in new TV series Bears’ Lair

Vancity is supporting Bears’ Lair, a reality business competition that showcases Indigenous entrepreneurship.

Tuesday, August 23, 2022, Territories of Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations/Vancouver B.C. – Canada’s legacy of discrimination continues to create barriers for Indigenous entrepreneurs and businesses, including in the financial industry. Vancity works to address these systemic barriers and develop fair access to finance for all.

Bears’ Lair, a new reality show in which 18 Indigenous entrepreneurs compete for a share of $180,000 in cash prizes, is airing on September 11 at 7:00 pm on the Aboriginal Peoples TV Network (APTN) with support from Vancity as one of the show’s leading sponsors. Throughout the course of the show, contestants receive group training and individual coaching to perfect their presentations and then make their pitches to the Bears, a panel of business experts, one of which is Vancity’s CEO Christine Bergeron, who will appear as a guest judge in episode 7 – airing October 23 at 7:00 pm.

Although Bears’ Lair was inspired by popular shows Dragons’ Den and Shark Tank, this Indigenous-owned and produced TV series is quite different from other business pitch shows. The contestants, 18 Indigenous entrepreneurs, will retain full ownership of their business. Every contestant will walk away with money and a newly formed support network of Indigenous entrepreneurs.

“Systemic discrimination often makes it hard for Indigenous entrepreneurs to access financing, but at Vancity we are trying to change that. Our partnership with Bears’ Lair TV is a reflection of our values, it will further our efforts towards financing economic Reconciliation,” said Christine Bergeron, President and CEO of Vancity.

For the creators of the show, it was imperative to build an environment where each participant felt valued, respected, and supported. As part of these efforts, each contestant received coaching sessions before the start of filming to support their business pitch.

The judging panel – ‘The Bears’ – is comprised of Indigenous business leaders, community role models, and champions for inclusion. The Bears are not investors, so they are not judging the pitches based on return on investment. Instead, the participants will be assigned points based on how their pitches support the show’s four Ps: People, Planet, Profit and Purpose.

Long after the episodes are filmed, the judges will continue to provide mentorship to support the entrepreneurs at every stage of their business lifecycle.

“Being one of the Bears was inspiring. What I have always loved about Indigenous entrepreneurs is that they are rooted in community, thinking about their current business while being mindful of the impacts they will have on future generations. We all have much to learn from Indigenous business models and values that create lasting positive change,” continued Christine.

Geena Jackson, Founder and Executive Producer of Bears’ Lair TV, commented: “I am so thrilled to have Vancity as a lead sponsor for the Bears' Lair TV Series and a sponsor for one of our Youth Entrepreneur Dream Camps this summer. Vancity is one of the most progressive leaders in supporting small businesses to start, expand and grow and succeed. Vancity has always been a reconciliation champion that inspires, elevates and educates entrepreneurs and businesses every step of the way. It was a true honour and pleasure to have Christine Bergeron, Vancity’s President and CEO as a guest judge for episode 7 of the Bears Lair TV series. Her advice, comments, kindness and connection with the contestants and judges was invaluable and we cannot wait to see more of her! We just love Vancity!”

Vancity’s support for Bears’ Lair builds on the credit union’s work towards economic Reconciliation, including:

  • Reconciliation is a core value of Vancity and the credit union was a founding partner of Reconciliation Canada.
  • Vancity is a signatory to PAR (Progressive Aboriginal Relations) Framework, a process through which the credit union is working actively to deepen and broaden its relationship with Indigenous communities to understand and meet their needs.
  • Vancity is committed to the calls to action issued by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission directed at the business sector, including adopting the principles, norms and standards of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
  • Vancity supports Indigenous education programs like Simon Fraser University’s Executive MBA in Indigenous Business and Leadership program, as well as UBC Sauder School of Business Ch’nook program.
  • To support the 'Namgis Nation, which had limited access to financial services, Vancity opened a branch in the village of Alert Bay - the first remote community branch in Canada.
  • Vancity also partnered with organizations that address systemic barriers to financing and support Indigenous entrepreneurs, like the Canadian Centre for Aboriginal Entrepreneurship, Stó:lo Community Futures, and Raven Capital Indigenous Impact Fund.
  • In 2021, over $1.3MM in Shared Success funds (the share of Vancity’s net profits reinvested in community) were invested in Indigenous initiatives like the Tsawwassen First Nation Farm School, Stewards of Sc’ianew Society, and Bears’ Lair TV.

For more information on Vancity’s work on Reconciliation, visit:

About Vancity

Vancity is a values-based financial co-operative serving the needs of its more than 560,000 member-owners and their communities, with offices and 54 branches located in Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, Victoria, Squamish and Alert Bay, within the territories of the Coast Salish and Kwakwaka’wakw people. With $33 billion in assets plus assets under administration, Vancity is Canada’s largest community credit union. Vancity uses its assets to help improve the financial well-being of its members while at the same time helping to develop healthy communities that are socially, economically and environmentally sustainable.

About Bears’ Lair TV

Bears' Lair is an exciting new reality TV series that premieres this September on national, primetime TV this fall on APTN. Over nine episodes of the series, viewers will learn about the strength and diversity of 18 Indigenous entrepreneurs from across the nation competing to earn their share of $180.000 in prize money that will be awarded during its inaugural season. The Bears' Lair TV series Executive Producer Geena Jackson (‘Tsetasiya’) is a proud member of the shíshálh / Sechelt Nation also serves on the core panel of Indigenous business judges – 'The Bears' – throughout Season 1 of the series. Geena is CEO of Sparkly Frog Clan Productions Inc., a 100% Indigenous owned and inspired media empowerment company that also coordinates Bears' Lair Indigenous Youth Entrepreneur Dream Camps to inspire future business leaders in their work towards the Bears' Lair mission to 'Feed the Spirit of Indigenous Business across the Nation.'

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