FireCircle 2021: One Family | Meet Ashley Richard
Ashley Richard will be joining Sara Wolfe and our hosts on Saturday morning, April 17, for a coffee and a conversation about Sourcing Lift-Off.
PowHERhouse Impact Media Group is committed to consciously and deliberately walking towards the world we want by 2030 through the amplification, preparation, and activation of global leaders supporting the realization of the UN-2030 agenda. Our April 2021 FireCircle, One Family, marks the third of twenty consecutive semi-annual gatherings over the next nine years.
Meet Ashley Richard
Ashley is a proud Indigenous woman with Métis and Ojibway heritage, hailing from Pine Creek First Nation and Camperville, Manitoba.
She is currently in Queen's University's Class of 2021, Master in Management Innovation & Entrepreneurship program, and the National Indigenous Outreach and Partnership Development Lead for the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub. For the past 10 years, Ashley has worked on various entrepreneurial and 'intrapreneurial' pursuits, all aimed at advancing the Indigenous economy.
In 2016, Ashley worked alongside the Former Treaty Commissioner, James Wilson, to host the premier Design Thinking workshop dedicated to Indigenous economic inclusion in the Province of Manitoba. Since then, she has been working nationally to advance Indigenous inclusion on various projects. Ashley’s own ventures include co-founding a media publication series called Red Rising Magazine, an Indigenous comedy Festival called Laughter is Medicine and WellNest, a social enterprise housing initiative for Indigenous women aging out of the foster care system in Manitoba.
Ashley turns her passions, interests, and hobbies into career moves that benefit her community.
Tell us about an influencer, role model, or confidante who has most impacted your leadership journey?
"My Spirit Name is Forever Woman, and at a young age I asked my grandmother, Mary Richard, what that meant. She told me “It means you’re going to grow up to be a powerful woman - even more powerful than me.” This is the lesson that anchors my entire life. As I walk along this path, I ask myself “What does it mean to be powerful?” and “What does it mean to be a powerful woman?” To me, it means honouring the teachings that were passed down by my grandmother. I knew about the seven sacred teachings before I knew there was an official name for them because my grandma taught them to me by living the teachings with me. My career path has not been linear, and I have done many things in many sectors and capacities, but I never do anything if it doesn’t honour my inner values and teachings."
- Ashley Richard
I credit my career back to my grandmother: She is my everything, to put it simply.
My grandmother taught me about respect and through that, I’ve learned that if you are anchored in your own values, you will never let anyone challenge or harm your truth.
Everything has a spirit. The people you work with have spirits, even the work you do has a spirit. How will that energy affect your spirit?
My grandma told me, “Don’t throw your clothes on the ground and step all over them, they have a spirit.”
Being a powerful woman may mean that you end up in positions of power, and it’s important to note that being a woman in a position of power does not mean the same thing as being a powerful woman.
Unless you act with humility, love, and honesty, you will not have the respect of your community.
If you don’t earn the respect of your community, you can never be powerful. It’s also through mutual respect with your community that you gain wisdom to learn new things and have the courage to stand up for what you believe in.
Anytime I do anything new, I listen to my spirit, or my 'gut instinct' as they call it. If I take a moment to be silent and still, from the chaoticness of life, I’ll know right away what decision I’m supposed to make, because living these teachings has taught me how to trust my own spirit.
What is the culmination and contribution towards impact you'd like to see as a result of your work in the world in the next five years?
"I want to see evidence that my work meant something. I want to see more programming for Indigenous women entrepreneurs, I want to see organizations such as the Indigenous LIFT Collective being financially supported and sustained. I want to see investments and actual money being spent specifically to support and advance Indigenous women entrepreneurship."
- Ashley Richard,
As the National Indigenous Outreach & Partnership Development Specialist for the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub (WEKH), Ashley led a national initiative that included a series of roundtable community consultations with more than 350 participants throughout 2020. The National Needs Analysis on Indigenous Women's Entrepreneurship recently launched presents an analysis of the rich stories shared by Indigenous women entrepreneurs about their successes, challenges, and aspirations for future entrepreneurial endeavours.
“I am astounded by Ashley's dedication and devotion to her work and the impact she is here to make on behalf of all Indigenous women entrepreneurs both now and in the future. As we continue to support building a strong foundation around these women and all gender-fluid individuals, we support reconciliation-in-action. Healing happens, families blossom, communities thrive, and the trajectory shifts towards all that is possible in a re-imagined future.”
~ Charlene SanJenko, Impact Media Producer
As we are working to deliberately build a better and brighter future to be the ancestors that future generations will be truly grateful for, where do you feel specific focus and intention needs to be placed now?
"Be intentional and specific about Indigenous inclusion. Indigenous inclusion is more than just adding a feather to your logo or having your staff participate in a blanket exercise for an afternoon. Indigenous inclusion means taking a step back and recognizing that many of the social constructs we have today were not designed to be inclusive of Indigenous women. It also means recognizing that Indigenous communities need to be engaged in the entire creative process, right from the beginning."
- Ashley Richard,
Organizations need to be willing to look at their own practices with a critical and honest lens and perhaps recognize that practices they once thought were inclusive were actually the opposite, and exclusionary to Indigenous women. Inclusion must take a fundamental organizational shift.
Hiring Indigenous employees is not going to change your organizational culture. In fact, unless your culture shifts, hiring Indigenous employees might, unfortunately, end up with said employees feeling alienated and ultimately leaving. Important aspects to consider when large companies interact and engage with Indigenous communities:
How is your company, as a whole, honouring and embodying Indigenous values and traditions?
If you hired an Indigenous woman to design and execute programming, what supports are in place to ensure she has what’s needed to succeed?
Do you know what those supports would be?
Hiring Indigenous employees is not going to change your culture.
The first steps must include seats on your Board and in executive decision-making roles and roles that can influence change; and, an accountable action and engagement lens that is embedded all the way through the entire company rather than siloed.
Ashley will be a guest at our April 15-17, 2021 FireCircle gathering. Alongside Sara Wolfe of the Indigenous Innovation Initiative, Ashley will join us on Saturday, April 17th for a coffee & a conversation to Source Lift-Off as we continue to walk further into all that is possible in innovation, impact, and entrepreneurship as intentional change-making vehicles.
Over the past decade, we’ve built incredible networks, spheres of influence, and solid reputations as women leaders. How now do we take what has been built to gain incredible traction over the next decade that we have not yet experienced in our lifetimes? “To light a fire underneath our efforts to date to best ignite collective energy possible now and moving forward from here….”