Tours, Ethnobotany, Education
Shane Michael Maurice is a Cree man from the Sunchild Reserve in Alberta who lives at Little Shuswap Lake Band Reserve. He came to the ACE Program after having gone through another entrepreneurship program and leaving with still more questions. Shane had gone through a previous entrepreneurship program because he was interested in business ownership, but unfortunately found that program a little bit lacking in what Shane describes as “meat and potatoes” of entrepreneurship. Basically, he left that program still having questions about how he could launch his business.
That’s why, when Shane heard about the ACE Program, he wanted to do his own research about our curriculum and course instructors. After learning more about ACE, the opportunities afforded through the program and about the course material, Shane was excited by the idea and applied. While he moved through the ACE Program, Shane described that he was “thoroughly enjoying it.” He stated that the program has “put [him] in a different avenue of thinking.” Specifically, Shane noted that the ACE Program professors and his classmates have helped him learn a lot of practical information that will allow him to “put out fires before they start” at his business. Although he believes that “every mistake is a learning experience” and he recognizes that even with ACE’s help, he’s going to make mistakes as he launches his business, ACE has helped him slow down and not to try to run into every problem head on. Through his course work, Shane has been forced to think through his positions and his ideas thoroughly; he’s learned to not take his own assumptions too seriously and instead to do his research.
Shane’s business is called Equinox Wilderness Adventure (Equinox). Shane is a sole proprietor with over 24 years of wilderness experience, and Equinox Wilderness Adventure is a wilderness survival teaching organization. He eventually wants the organization to work with a variety of customer groups. Before Shane graduated from the ACE Program, he described that he would like to see Equinox offer three different types of services:
- Firstly, he is committed to supporting troubled youth on their path to happy and fulfilling lives; to that end, he’d like to offer wilderness retreats and cultural camps for these youths. He believes that reconnecting to nature learning about wilderness survival can help youth reconnect to their culture and can inspire growth in all aspects of their lives. Shane notes that he wants to “focus on healing and rebuilding the Nations of our people. Many lack the skills that our Ancestors held as common knowledge. I’m committed to supporting troubled youth between the age of 7 up to 19, older in some cases on their pathway to happiness and a fulfilling life.” Shane also explains that “reconnecting youth to nature can help connect them to their culture and Creator…[which] can inspire growth in all aspects of their life.”
- Secondly, Shane is interested in taking on work as a wilderness tour guide – but not your typical wilderness tour guide! Instead of leading slightly passive groups of wilderness observers through the land, he would lead a wilderness tour that incorporates learning survival skills. For example, on their journey, Shane would teach his participants how to build shelters and safely forage for and prepare food with minimal tools. He would teach participants about wilderness safety and preparedness but also make sure the tours are a lot of fun! Shane explains that he teaches his “participants how to build shelters and safely forage, and prepare food with minimal tools.”
- The third main service category that Shane aspires to offer is search and rescue services; he is working towards the certification and looks forward to that work. Shane is a volunteer firefighter in Skw’lax, BC and trained in First Aid, and he also knows the land in this region well and knows that he could do a lot of good in this line of work.
Since graduating from the ACE Program, Shane has launched Equinox Wilderness Adventure and is offering courses in survival training to his students. Shane leads courses where he shares his expertise on important survival techniques, covering safety issues, team building exercises, ethnobotany, and much more!
The common areas of training Shane provides include flood or fire evacuation planning; animal awareness; fire making in any environment; shelter; snares and trap construction; self-sufficiency and leadership; traditional skills – which are defined according to the cultural and historical practices in the local community and smudge.
Shane is currently working on a project to provide this training through camps during each season of the year:
Spring Camp will cover training about ethnobotany, including local flora and fauna. Shane notes that he will lead “a plant and medicine walk in the mountain and talk about their medicinal uses, teach water purification techniques and how to build a fire.”
Summer Camp will focus on food security and its relation to health. Shane will also teach participants about proper drying techniques for roots and berries, and more practical skills including how to smoke meat, spear fishing and tool making.
Fall Camp is focused on teaching how to scrape and tan hides. Shane notes that “[o]thers can go fishing or canoeing if a canoe is available.” Fall Camp will cover hosing a feast and preparing a feast by pit cooking and ceremonies to honour first time hunters. Shane will show those he teaches how to construct a smoker and ready the meat for smoking, in addition to what wood to use.
Winter Camp will teach youth about guidelines and traditional ceremony regarding Sweatlodge. Shane explains that he will “[e]ncourage members to continue learning and practicing cultural activities in their everyday lives.”
Shane describes that for each camp, participants undertake “a minimum of one week on-land exercise per season with the skills they have learnt while supervised under [his] leadership.” Shane’s goal is to ensure that those he teaches have the opportunity to brush up on their skills by working as a team in a controlled environment, and also take inventory of wear-and-tear on issued equipment and repair.
As part of his business plan, Shane is already thinking of future expansions. Eventually he’d like for Equinox to be a national brand (with locations on/near Reserves all over the country) but before that, he’s hoping to bring on some family members of his as other wilderness guides. In particular, Shane hopes that his nephews show interest in joining the Equinox team as the company expands.
Through the ACE Program, Shane has learned a variety of technical skills that have already proven very useful as he has launched his business. He notes that he especially appreciates the computer and online skills he’s gained through the program; he’s very grateful for the laptop that’s been provided as well. After gaining more confidence in his computer skills (and after having access to a computer through the program) Shane has even created a website: http://equinoxwildernessadventure.com/ for Equinox through the web design platform, GoDaddy. Also, Shane has also made social media an important part of his marketing plan. He envisions a Facebook page, an active company website, and most importantly, an active blog about wilderness survival. As noted, Shane has already developed his website and a blog to go with it, in addition to a Facebook Group for Equinox Wilderness Adventure and discussion about survival practices. but there’s still a lot of work to be done to develop his online presence.
Shane’s advice to any future ACE students (or people who have heard about the program but who haven’t decided to sign up) is to “just do it!” Shane is a big believer in taking action and making things happen for yourself.
Shane describes that the schedule for his camps taught through Equinox Wilderness Adventure will be made upon discussion with what is desired by the band. If you’re interested in learning more about Equinox Wilderness Adventure, make sure to email Shane at [email protected] or give him a call at 250-571-8818.
Shane Maurice is a graduate of the Aboriginal Canadian Entrepreneurs Program. 202 Aboriginal Entrepreneurs have graduated from the award winning ACE Program, which focuses on bridging Aboriginal culture with the key elements of entrepreneurship and business creation. The ACE program is made possible through the collective efforts of our partnering regions, communities, institutions, and faculties.