2023 Indigenous Communities Fellowship


Shawish Market

Shawish is a virtual Indigenous marketplace. Unlike other marketplaces, Shawish does not charge vendors different fees, thus making it affordable and accessible to all.

Team Lead

Amanda Bernard

Solution Overview & Team Lead Details

Our Organization

Shawish Market

What is the name of your solution?

Shawish Market

Provide a one-line summary of your solution.

Shawish is a virtual marketplace dedicated to Indigenous entrepreneurs offering them an opportunity to create their own online shops. Unlike other marketplaces, Shawish does not charge any transaction or monthly fees to its vendors, making it accessible and affordable.

What specific problem are you solving?

Amanda Bernard, the founder of Shawish, is an Indigenous woman from the Madawaska Maliseet First Nation. While working with Indigenous youth in Toronto, Amanda noticed many talented Indigenous artists whose beautifully crafted designs were not receiving the recognition they deserved. With the support of her community, friends, and family, she founded Shawish, an online platform that is accessible and affordable while honouring Indigenous Ways of Knowing. Shawish also aims to inspire the next seven generations of Indigenous artists to continue their ancestors' traditions.

The platform not only encourages Indigenous people to become entrepreneurs and promote economic growth but the marketplace also prevents fraudulent Indigenous art. 

What is your solution?

Shawish is a virtual marketplace dedicated to Indigenous entrepreneurs and artists, offering them an opportunity to create their own online shops and upload their own products. Unlike other marketplaces, Shawish does not charge any transaction or monthly fees to its Indigenous vendors, making it accessible and affordable. While other platforms such as Etsy charges 11% transaction fee or Amazon and Shopify with monthly fees, Shawish offers a fair and equitable option that supports Indigenous traditions and knowledge.

Every seller on Shawish is verified, ensuring that customers can confidently support Indigenous artists directly. It's a perfect platform for anyone who wants to support First Nation Communities and Indigenous businesses. Verifying our vendors prevents fraudulent Indigenous art which has become a big problem.

The platform accommodates various forms of art, including paintings, handmade jewelry, sculptures, candles, beauty products, and more. Currently, the majority of items on Shawish are handmade beaded jewelry, which holds great significance in repairing cultural ties and spiritual beliefs for Indigenous artists. The platform enables Indigenous artists to share and sell their art, connect with other Indigenous artists, and showcase their talents to a wider audience.

www.shawishmarket.com @shawish.market

Who does your solution serve, and in what ways will the solution impact their lives?

Shawish currently accepts Indigenous vendors across the United States and Canada. Launched in August 2022, Shawish has already attracted over 100 Indigenous vendors. Each vendor has expressed gratitude for an affordable platform so that they can continue with their businesses and feed their families. We also strive to encourage Indigenous people to start a business of their own if they have not done so.

Additionally, beading is considered a form of cultural healing, and encouraging Indigenous people and youth to carry on this tradition is beneficial for community healing.

Many Indigenous communities are systematically marginalized from economic opportunities. Indigenous art is also appropriated into mainstream brand designs. When choosing to spend, why not support Indigenous communities instead?

Which Indigenous community(s) does your solution benefit? In what ways will your solution benefit this community?

Shawish supports all Indigenous communities across Canada and the United States. We currently have close ties to Indigenous communities in New Brunswick and Ontario in Canada. 

However Indigenous vendors on Shawish can be located in rural, remote, urban or on reserve areas. We have made numerous changes to the platform to ensure accessibility for Indigenous people living in remote areas. 

With this application we are hoping to have support with connecting to other Indigenous communities especially those located in the USA to provide feedback on our current system.

How are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?

Amanda Bernard, an Honours Bachelor of Business graduate from the University of Guelph Humber, is a member of the Madawaska Maliseet First Nation, the Founder of Shawish Market, and Director of Indigenous Programs at the Laidlaw Foundation. In her role at the Foundation, Amanda supports Indigenous youth by helping them connect with their land, language, culture, and peers through various projects.

Before joining the Laidlaw Foundation, Amanda served as the Account Manager responsible for launching the NIHB portal, an online platform that enables Indigenous people to submit their health benefit claims digitally. In her spare time, Amanda started Shawish, a new virtual marketplace exclusively for Indigenous artists to create their own shops and upload their products for free. Amanda currently resides in Toronto, ON, although she was born and raised in Ottawa, ON.

Amanda currently has support from her family, friends, Indigenous communities and more importantly her two sisters, Cindy and Jasmine Bernard.

Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?

Support the creation, growth, and success of Indigenous-owned businesses and promote economic opportunity in Indigenous communities.

In what city, town, or region is your solution team headquartered?


What is your solution’s stage of development?

Growth: An organization with an established product, service, or business model that is rolled out in one or more communities

How many people does your solution currently serve?

Over 100 vendors have signed up since August 2022

Why are you applying to Solve?

With this application, our goal is to connect with other Indigenous communities and incorporate feedback into our platform. As well, we would like support on breaking through marketing barriers and getting our platform out to the people that need it the most.

For example, we would like to update our platform so that Indigenous artists can trade art and hand-made goods just like our ancestors did. We also plan to add requested features like vendor portal navigation tools, an updated search engine, and a customer point system. Additionally, we would like support or suggestions on how to collect more feedback and ensure that First Nation, Inuit, and Métis women, Two Spirit, queer, trans, and gender-diverse people are all heard.

Lastly we are a Canadian business that also support Indigenous people in both Canada the USA. However we want to become more familiar with Indigenous communities in the states as our main focus has been in Canada the past 10 months.

In which of the following areas do you most need partners or support?

  • Financial (e.g. accounting practices, pitching to investors)
  • Human Capital (e.g. sourcing talent, board development)

Who is the Team Lead for your solution?

Amanda Bernard

Please indicate the tribal affiliation of your Team Lead.

Madawaska Maliseet First Nation

How is your Team Lead connected to the community or communities in which your project is based?

Amanda Bernard, the founder of Shawish, is an Indigenous woman from the Madawaska Maliseet First Nation. Despite living in Toronto, Amanda makes an annual visit to her reserve in New Brunswick, where her father and sister currently reside. Additionally, Amanda's aunt holds the position of chief.

Amanda also works closely with Indigenous youth across Ontario on various projects that allow youth to connect with their culture, language and land.

Amanda's ancestors' original last name was Shawish, but settlers forced them to change it which Amanda's ancestors decided on Bernard because that was the name of their favourite priest at the time. By naming the platform Shawish, Amanda honours her ancestors while providing Indigenous people with a means to continue their ancestors' way of life.

More About Your Solution

What makes your solution innovative?

What makes Shawish innovative is its unique approach to supporting vendors. Unlike other marketplaces, we do not charge vendors a monthly or transaction fee. This sets us apart because we recognize that paying such fees can be a significant financial burden, especially for vendors who create art in their spare time. In fact, as the founder of a craft business, I personally experienced the negative impact of monthly fees on my own business. By not charging such fees, we can encourage and support vendors who may not have been able to sell their art otherwise. We believe that this approach will foster a vibrant and diverse marketplace, and ensure that artists are not forced to abandon their practice due to financial constraints.

What are your impact goals for the next year and the next five years, and how will you achieve them?

We envision a world where Indigenous entrepreneurs and artists thrive, and their work is celebrated and valued in Western society.

We envision an online platform with a wide range of authentic Indigenous products, featuring the diverse talents and traditions of Indigenous artists.

To achieve these visions, we plan to create an affordable, user-friendly platform that empowers and supports Indigenous artists in sharing their cultural heritage with a global audience. To also achieve these visions, we plan to get Indigenous communities involved to provide their feedback on the current marketplace.

Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals does your solution address?

  • 3. Good Health and Well-being
  • 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • 9. Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure

How are you measuring your progress toward your impact goals?

We are using vendor sign-ups as an initial indicator of success. Additionally, we are tracking the number of monthly sales and the total revenue generated for Indigenous entrepreneurs through the site.

What is your theory of change?

Goal: To create a sustainable marketplace for authentic Indigenous art that supports the livelihoods of Indigenous artists and promotes cultural understanding and preservation.


  • Authentic Indigenous art is valued and sought after by consumers.
  • There is a need for a marketplace that sells authentic Indigenous art and verifies its vendors.
  • Indigenous artists have limited access to market opportunities.
  • Cultural understanding and preservation can be promoted through the sale of authentic Indigenous art.


  1. Identify and partner with Indigenous artists who produce authentic Indigenous art.
  2. Verify the authenticity and cultural significance of the art through consultation with Indigenous communities, experts, and elders.
  3. Create an online marketplace to sell the art to a global audience.
  4. Promote the marketplace through social media and targeted marketing to reach a wide range of consumers.
  5. Offer fair compensation to the artists and ensure that they receive a significant portion of the sales revenue.
  6. Provide support to the artists in terms of marketing, logistics, and business development.
  7. Collaborate with Indigenous communities and organizations to promote cultural understanding and preservation.


  • A marketplace for authentic Indigenous art that is accessible to consumers worldwide.
  • A network of verified Indigenous artists who have access to market opportunities and fair compensation for their work.
  • Increased awareness and appreciation of Indigenous cultures and traditions through the promotion of authentic Indigenous art.
  • Increased economic opportunities for Indigenous artists and their communities.


  • Sustainable livelihoods for Indigenous artists and their families.
  • Preservation and promotion of Indigenous cultures and traditions.
  • Increased appreciation and respect for Indigenous art and its significance.
  • Reduced exploitation and appropriation of Indigenous art and culture.
  • Increased understanding and empathy between cultures.

Describe the core technology that powers your solution.

The technology that creates a virtual marketplace where vendors can create their own shop and upload their own products, along with multiple customizations, is a combination of web development, database management, and e-commerce software.

The platform would be built on a web development framework which allows for the creation of dynamic web applications with interactive features. The application would be hosted on a cloud-based server such as Cloud Ways which provides scalability and reliability.

To create a vendor's shop, the application would require a database management system to store vendor information and product data. Vendors would be able to create an account, set up their shop, and upload their products with descriptions, prices, and images. The database would also allow for the management of inventory, sales, and customer data.

The application would use e-commerce software such as Stripe Payments to facilitate transactions and payments. This would allow vendors to accept payments directly to their bank accounts. The software would also include features such as order management, shipping, and tax calculations.

To provide customizations, vendors would be able to choose from a range of templates and design options to customize the look and feel of their shop. 

Overall, the technology would provide a user-friendly interface for vendors to create their own shops and upload their products, along with multiple customizations to create a unique shopping experience for customers.

Which of the following categories best describes your solution?

A new business model or process that relies on technology to be successful

Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:

  • Ancestral Technology & Practices
  • Behavioral Technology
  • Internet of Things
  • Software and Mobile Applications

In which parts of the US and/or Canada do you currently operate?

Toronto. However Shawish vendors can be located across Canada and the USA.

In which parts of the US and/or Canada will you be operating within the next year?

Toronto. However Shawish vendors can be located across Canada and the USA.

Your Team

What type of organization is your solution team?

For-profit, including B-Corp or similar models

How many people work on your solution team?

Full time Staff- 1. Part time- 2

How long have you been working on your solution?

Development started in Jan 2022. The website launched in August 15, 2022.

What is your approach to incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusivity into your work?

Shawish Market is committed to providing a safe and respectful environment for all members of our virtual marketplace, including our employees, vendors, and customers. We do not tolerate any form of harassment or discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, or any other protected characteristic.

Harassment includes any unwelcome conduct that creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment, such as:

  • Verbal or physical abuse

  • Insults, slurs, or derogatory comments

  • Offensive jokes or gestures

  • Displaying offensive images or materials

  • Inappropriate touching or physical contact

Discrimination includes any unfair treatment or negative action taken against an individual on the basis of their protected characteristic, such as:

  • Refusing to do business with a vendor or customer because of their race or ethnicity

  • Denying an employee a promotion because of their gender

  • Treating a customer differently because of their age

We also encourage all members of our virtual marketplace to engage in respectful and inclusive behavior, and to help us create a welcoming and inclusive environment for everyone.

Your Business Model & Funding

What is your business model?

Business Model for Shawish Virtual Indigenous Marketplace:

Customer Segments:

  • Indigenous artists and entrepreneurs seeking an online platform to sell their authentic products
  • Customers interested in purchasing unique, high-quality Indigenous art and crafts

Value Proposition:

  • A user-friendly and affordable online marketplace that provides a platform for Indigenous entrepreneurs and artists to showcase their authentic products to a global audience
  • No monthly or transaction fees for vendors, making it accessible and financially viable for artists to sell their work
  • A diverse selection of authentic Indigenous products, highlighting the richness and diversity of Indigenous culture and heritage

Revenue Streams:

  • Commission-based model where Shawish takes a percentage of each sale made on the platform from the customer, not the vendor
  • Premium features for vendors such as promotional tools, additional customization options, and priority placement on the platform, offered at a fee. These features are not available at the moment.
  • Advertising revenue from targeted ads on the platform

Key Activities:

  • Developing and maintaining the online platform for vendors and customers to access and engage with the marketplace
  • Marketing and promoting the marketplace to attract both vendors and customers
  • Verifying the authenticity of the products sold on the platform to maintain the quality and reputation of the marketplace
  • Providing customer service and support to ensure a positive user experience for both vendors and customers

Key Resources:

  • Web development and e-commerce software to create and manage the online platform
  • Database management system to store vendor information and product data
  • Verification process to ensure authenticity of the products sold on the platform
  • Marketing and advertising strategies to attract vendors and customers to the marketplace
  • A team of dedicated customer support representatives to provide assistance to vendors and customers

Key Partnerships:

  • Partnerships with Indigenous communities and organizations to promote and support the marketplace
  • Partnerships with payment gateways to process transactions securely and efficiently (Stripe Payments)
  • Partnerships with shipping companies to facilitate delivery of products to customers (Canada Post)

Cost Structure:

  • Web development and maintenance costs
  • Marketing and advertising costs
  • Employee salaries and benefits

Do you primarily provide products or services directly to individuals, to other organizations, or to the government?

Individual consumers or stakeholders (B2C)

What is your plan for becoming financially sustainable?

At present, Shawish has implemented a 7% fee on each sale from the customer, not the vendor, to achieve financial sustainability, which covers our monthly maintenance fees and marketing expenses. This fee structure is necessary to cover our operating costs, including Cloud Ways subscription and the ability for vendors to connect to shipping providers using Postmen.

In the near future, we plan to develop premium features for vendors, including promotional tools, additional customization options, and priority placement on the platform, which will be available at a cost. Eventually, we hope to introduce targeted ads on the platform that vendors can pay for to further increase revenue.

Share some examples of how your plan to achieve financial sustainability has been successful so far.

We have been fortunate to receive grants from various organizations such as Canadian Roots Exchange, Ontario Indigenous Youth Projects, Donna Cona, and Toronto Arts Council. Thanks to this funding, we were able to successfully launch Shawish.

Moving forward, our goal is to become financially sustainable through our current commission-based model for customers, rather than vendors.

Solution Team

  • Amanda Bernard Founder, Shawish Market
to Top