Our Team | Indigenous Entrepreneurship

Jacob Crane

Indigenous Entrepreneurship Program Manager

Starting his career selling bubble gum at pow wows at the age of nine, Jacob Crane describes himself as a lifelong entrepreneur. Coming to United College from Tsuut'ina Nation in Alberta, Jacob brings two decades of experience and a passion for supporting Indigenous communities in Canada and the United States. Most recently, Jacob worked as the Executive Director for the SLC Air Protectors, a non-profit organization dedicated to serving Indigenous people in Utah. He also co-founded and runs a media production company called The Arrow’s Journey, which showcases the stories of successful small Indigenous youth-led businesses and non-profits across the United States. He has been recognized with several awards and grants for his efforts in supporting Indigenous communities. 

In his role, Jacob looks forward to making a positive impact on the economic futures of Indigenous youth and empowering them to take charge of their lives by gaining the critical skills that come from being entrepreneurial. 

Odeeth Lara-Morales

Lecturer, Indigenous Entrepreneurship

Dr. Lara-Morales is a Research Assistant at the University of Waterloo, an Associate Fellow at the Centre for International Sustainable Development Law (CISDL), and a Project Officer with the United Nations Association in Canada. She holds a Ph.D. in the discipline of sustainable development and tourism and has taught management courses at the Lord Ashcroft International Business School (LAIBS) in Cambridge, UK.

Odeeth is a Nahua Indigenous descendant from Mexico and her research interests focus on environmental studies such as sustainability and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on a local level and internationally through the implementation of sustainable community plans, civic engagement, and market-based approaches. Her research also examines enterprises and sustainable tourism to support sustainable development for ecological and cultural protection, gender equality, and poverty reduction in Indigenous communities.

Wayne D. Garnons-Williams

Lecturer, Indigenous Entrepreneurship

Wayne is the founding President of the International Inter-tribal Trade and Investment Organization, Senior Lawyer, and Principal Director of the law firm Garwill Law Professional Corporation, and leads an international business entitled Indigenous Sovereign Trade Consultancy Ltd. specializing in Tribal Trade and Sustainable Economic Development.

He is the past Chair of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations Appeal Tribunal and is currently on the board of directors of the International Law Association – Canada chapter, Council of the Great Lakes Region, Capacity Canada and Board Chair of the 60’s Scoop Healing Foundation.

He is also a Research Fellow specializing in International Comparative Indigenous law at the University of Oklahoma, College of Law. He was appointed by Order in Council as a member to the NAFTA Chapter 19 Trade Remedies roster and then appointed in 2020 as a CUSMA Advisory Committee Member on Private Commercial Disputes, Article 31.22.

He has recently written four chapters and is co-editor for a textbook published by Cambridge University Press on International Indigenous Trade & Environmental law and is teaching a course based on his textbook as part of the Bachelor of Indigenous Entrepreneurialism Program at the University of Waterloo, St. Paul’s College campus.

He is the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business 2019 Award winner for Excellence in Aboriginal Relations, the 2020 Queen’s University alumni award winner as well as the recipient of the 2020 Centre for International Sustainable Development Law (CISDL) - International Legal Specialist in Peace, Justice and Governance Award. He is Plains Cree from Treaty 6, Moosomin First Nation.

Kelsey Leonard

Assistant Professor

Dr. Kelsey Leonard is a water scientist, legal scholar, policy expert, writer, and enrolled citizen of the Shinnecock Nation. Dr. Leonard is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Environment at the University of Waterloo, where her research focuses on Indigenous water justice and its climatic, territorial, and governance underpinnings. Dr. Leonard seeks to establish Indigenous traditions of water conservation as the foundation for international water policymaking.

Dr. Leonard has been instrumental in safeguarding the interests of Indigenous Nations for environmental planning and builds Indigenous science and knowledge into new solutions for water governance and sustainable oceans. In collaboration with a global team of water law scholars, Dr. Leonard has published in Lewis and Clark Law Review on Indigenous Water Justice and the defining international legal principle of self-determination under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Savanah Seaton

Director, Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre

Savanah’s matrilineal lineage is of the Anishinaabeg (Plains Ojibway) Peoples of the Waywayseecappo (Treaty 4) First Nation community through her late grandfather Chesley Seaton, and the Keeseeekoowenin (Treaty 2) First Nation community through her late grandmother Myrna Seaton (Bone). Her patrilineal lineage continues to be a lifelong re-search. She is a 1st and 2nd generation 60’s scoop survivor and a 3rd generation residential school survivor. While pursuing an MA degree in Industrial Organizational Psychology at UWaterloo, she lived in United College’s graduate residence. Savanah has over ten years of experience in both public, private, and non-profit sectors with a strong dedication and passion towards empowering Indigenous people through higher education, capacity development, partnerships and entrepreneurship. Some of her main areas of specialty include Truth and Reconciliation, Indigenous engagement and empowerment, organizational change, and transformational leadership.

Benjamin Ross Makela

Director of Trading Post

Benjamin grew up in a family-owned business that served the remote Indigenous communities of northwestern Ontario. This lifestyle cultivated his entrepreneurial mindset at an early age and instilled the need for more Indigenous-led businesses to serve our Indigenous communities.

Staying near to the family business of building material supply, he majored in Architectural Technology & Construction Management although realigned himself closer to his true passion for entrepreneurship after taking a Master’s degree focused innovation and entrepreneurship at the Smith School of Business at Queen's University where he deepened his knowledge of venture creation.

Since graduating, Benjamin has been working with a Toronto-based venture studio, working alongside seasoned entrepreneurs forming ideas into viable businesses. This experience has given him a wealth of knowledge and insight which he is excited to share with his fellow entrepreneurs at the Trading Post.