SDEI at the Helm of Quebec’s First Indigenous Mentoring Cell
Under the banner “Success is shared! Dare to mentor!”, the Société de développement économique Ilnu (SDEI) is adding a mentoring program to its service offering. Initiated by Ms. Louise Bergeron, Director of Business and Financial Services, the unit was created in 2017. Ms. Bergeron then called on Réseau M to offer a structured program to entrepreneurs in her community.
Created in 2017…. it’s been three years?
Yes, a mentoring program can’t be set up with a snap of the fingers! From the outset, the watchword was to take the time to do it right. The main objective was to set up a quality service for the region’s entrepreneurs that would be there for future generations.
Thus, the SDEI team set out to find a “chief mentor”. They needed to find the rare pearl: someone with business experience, from the region and interested in passing on the lessons learned so far. After some research, Mr. Alain Paul proved to be ready to take up the challenge.
The search for mentors and mentees followed. Once again, it may seem easier than the hard reality. Mentors must identify themselves as sources of experience, then be ready to open up and pass on their knowledge to the next generation. On the mentee’s side, they must realize that a mentor could help them in their development, then be ready to be open to this outside perspective. What is called “the mentoring relationship” can be compared to a date, it has to feel good, as they say.
Ms. Bergeron and her team are at the helm of this new adventure that is the mentoring program. They ensure the ongoing training of mentors and their professional development, as well as the recruitment of new mentors and mentees. The team also ensures the smooth running of each dyad (mentor and mentee duo), without, of course, taking part in the exchanges. We can therefore observe that coordinating such a network is a complex task. This is one of the reasons why the Indigenous mentoring cell is still small. However, SDEI is thinking big for this new service, but all the stages of its development will be carried out in small steps in order to meet the established objectives.
What will the mentoring cell be in 10 years?
We are still allowed to dream! So without restraint, for the future, Ms. Bergeron would like to see the mentoring cell grow and include several communities and even several nations. She sees it as a great opportunity to share the expertise of First Nations business people and to share it with young and not-so-young emerging entrepreneurs.
In closing, a funny little fact: can a person be too old to call upon a mentor? Ask Ms. Bergeron and she’ll tell you no! One of her mentees began the mentor search process at age 70. It’s never too late, dare!
By the numbers:
- 3 years
- 3 mentors (including one woman)
- 3 dyads of created
- Mentees aged 30 to 70
- A unanimous success
Further information on the Indigenous Mentoring Cell can be found at the dedicated web page.
To consult other articles on First Nations economic development, we invite you to consult our blog.