A Woman Entrepreneur at Heart
To be a First Nations education consultant was a dream that Nathalie Chantal, a 53-year-old Wendat woman, had cherished for some time. She had always told herself that she wanted to end her career as a consultant.
So it was in September 2019 that she took the plunge. She decided to take unpaid leave and gauge the schools to find out their interest. This was when she realized that there was a great need because, as of her first six months of work, her schedule was full. Her consulting services were so well received that, in November 2019, she was already resigning from her position even though she had until July 2020 to provide her employer with an official answer.
Starting her own educational consulting business was a way for her to give back what she had received during her years as a teacher. Her project began almost three years ago. The timing was perfect, as she felt she had gained the necessary experience for her project. In addition, her children had reached an age where she now had more free time.
She felt privileged to have worked in wonderful school environments. Throughout her professional career, she feels that she has received a lot from her community of Wendake as well as from other First Nations communities.
Her mission is to support First Nations schools in the development of their capacity and autonomy while respecting their culture. The ultimate goal is foster pride in these schools in terms of their ability to ensure the success of their students.
For whom are her services intended?
As part of her new consulting role, she particularly targets school administrators, guidance counsellors and teachers. She essentially offers a vocational training component.
Her services are mainly offered to First Nations elementary and high schools. They can also be provided to provincial schools, but due to her sense of belonging and her knowledge of the organizational and cultural context in which First Nations students operate, she prefers to focus primarily on this First Nations clientele.
Usually, schools contact Nathalie to ask for help to improve certain teaching practices. The process begins with training that is provided to all school staff. Then, she accompanies a person or the whole team with a view to improving the academic success of the students. She provides training to the entire teaching staff and then follow-up is carried out in order to improve teaching practices.
The help received
In order to make her project a reality, Nathalie contacted the FNQLEDC to obtain assistance from its entrepreneurial support service. Emmanuel Bertrand-Gauvin, Women Entrepreneurship Advisor (for the FNQLEDC), helped Nathalie identify all the elements that should be in her business plan and supported her in writing the plan. Then, she had meetings with Frédérick Martel, Entrepreneurship Technical Advisor, in order to prepare the financial component of the business plan.
To get started in the field, her family’s moral support was essential. Also, the fact that she would be working in an environment with which she was well familiar helped her a lot. Finally, we would be remiss not to mention the financial assistance that allowed Nathalie to set up an office at home and obtain the appropriate tools for the road. The funding also gave her the opportunity to get organized effectively with professional tools and an up-to-date library of resources.
What stands out in Nathalie’s service offer?
“I think what sets me apart is my knowledge of the First Nations environment and my understanding of the realities according to the community. I sit down with people and take the time to assess the bigger picture before planning”, said Nathalie.
Moreover, she does some follow-up by videoconference. She explained that travel is however necessary in the communities, depending on the scope of the entrusted mandate.
We are highlighting the great work done by Nathalie Chantal in our Indigenous communities in the hopes that others like her become consultants for the benefit of First Nations students. We wish her a busy work schedule that will enable her to further help communities achieve academic success.
To discover other projects and initiatives led by women, we invite you to visit our women entrepreneurship section.