Things don’t always go as planned, but for entrepreneurs, these hurdles only make the journey more valuable in the long run. There is something to be said about the ability to stand tall and persevere, and we can’t think of anyone better to demonstrate this strength than Tara Everett, founder of indigenous-focused Canoe Coworking.
Like many of us, Everett had a desire to create. Her dream was to bring community, economic development, and hope to indigenous peoples by creating a coworking space in Winnipeg, Manitoba, home to the largest urban indigenous population in Canada. “We had the opportunity to create something amazing. [There wasn’t] a space that reflected indigenous values, networks, and approaches to business.” says Everett. So, she rolled up her sleeves and got to work.
Her first hurdle was creating awareness and understanding the coworking movement. The industry’s holistic view that successful business is built upon more than a desk space, but a network truly resonated with her, and she began to educate her local market.
In June of 2018, Everett signed a lease on a space that met all of her essential needs other than a few simple accessibility improvements. These turned out to be not-so-simple. The necessity of a restroom on the ground floor prompted her to start coordinating with the building owner on modifications. Permits were needed, and in working with the city offices, she quickly discovered that many modifications had previously been made to the building illegally. With red flags raised, Everett made the decision to utilize the clause in her lease-agreement allowing for contract disentanglement. She had already poured tens of thousands of dollars and many months into this space, and she found herself back at square one. This is usually the point where defeat kicks in, but that wasn’t going to be the case here.
Key supporters kept the dream going whenever doubt set in. A coworking community began to emerge before a physical space even existed. Believers became helpers and Everett never felt alone in her dream. She focused on sharing the value of an Indigenous-focused space with local and even international allies, and illustrated the asset that it would bring to the community. The support was overwhelming. “I can’t wait to bring the support I’ve experienced to a local level [when we open to our members], because it’s truly a beautiful thing that needs to be experienced.”
Everett’s journey isn’t over yet. She’s just launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise $25,000. “This amount provides a foundation for Canoe to be able to access funding that requires capital, proof-of-concept to investors, enough funds to secure a space, and operating costs for the first couple of months.” she says. Membership drives and information sessions will follow in order to grow Canoe Coworking into the Indigenous hub that Everett knows it will become.
This industry is founded on those who create inspiring concepts, bring new life to communities, get shit done, and don’t give up. Tara Everett is an example of someone who believes in her dream and against all odds, does what it takes to make it happen.