We’re Inspired By the Next Generation of Women

A Q&A with Annie Korver on International Women’s Day 2024

As an Indigenous-woman-owned consulting firm, today we honour all the women at Rise, our sisters, mothers, grandmothers, cousins, aunties, friends and colleagues, as they contribute to the mosaic of strength and solidarity that defines our journeys.  

International Women’s Day (IWD) is a global day to recognize and celebrate women’s, girls’ Two-Spirits’, transgender and gender-diverse individuals’ achievements. It’s also a time to raise awareness of the progress made towards achieving gender equality and the work remaining to be done. The United Nations 2024 theme of IWD is Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress. In the ever-evolving landscape of entrepreneurship – voices of resilience, innovation and cultural richness emerge, echoing the journeys of remarkable individuals.

Today, we amplify the story of Annie Korver, the visionary force, Founder and Principal behind Rise Consulting. Annie is a beacon of inspiration for Indigenous women in business and her journey embodies the spirit of determination and empowerment that resonates deeply within our community. As we sit down with her, we delve into her experiences as an Indigenous woman entrepreneur, navigating through challenges and the relationships she holds close.   

Question: On International Women’s Day, and in thinking about who comes to mind and heart that has impacted your life, who are you celebrating? 

Annie: “I am inspired by so many women, but the first to come to my mind is my daughter, Sarah. Sarah exemplifies the importance of kinship relations and leads with kindness, love and generosity. She is four years wise, and she inspires me to be present, play more, hug often and appreciate the small details.” 

Question: What have you learned about the power of investing in women? How does it relate to economic development and Reconciliation?   

Annie: “Investing in women involves leveraging our shared experiences to enhance and foster shared value among us. This learning became front and centre during my graduate degree at the University of Calgary. Michael Porter’s Creating Shared Value (CSV) model stood out to me as did Calvin Helin’s insights into the economic consequences of the colonial project on Turtle Island. Although entrepreneurship wasn’t initially on my radar, reflecting on these teachings revealed a connection between my values and the ability to create shared value, ultimately lighting the spark for Rise. As I create, build and nurture relationships with women at Rise and elsewhere, I see the tangible impact of shared values in action, driving transformative change centered on respect, kinship, gratitude, and reciprocity. I recently had the opportunity to discuss these teachings at the GLOBE Forum 2024, as part of the panel A Matriarchal Movement: The Vital Role of Indigenous Women in the Energy Transition.” 

Question: ‘Nothing about us, without us’ is a core tenet at Rise as we advance our purpose of supporting the rising presence of Indigenous Peoples in what is today known as Canada. What does inclusion and equity with Indigenous women look and feel like today? 

Annie: When we’re seen, heard and respected as Indigenous women, it feels kind, loving and natural.

Question: How have you navigated challenges and barriers as an Indigenous woman in business as you look back, over the past 10 years since founding Rise?  

Annie: “In the journey of advancing Truth and Reconciliation, I’m reminded of the patience it requires and I am purposeful in spending time with those I trust and look up to, in my community. Seeking teachings and learning from close friends and Elders, Indigenous women such as Alicia Dubois, Kim van der Woerd, Laurie Sterritt, Marilyn North-Peigan, Martha Matthew, Michelle Corfield, Michelle Fournie, Raylene Whitford, Shannon Pestun and Tabatha Bull, have been instrumental in guiding me through challenging times. Their wisdom instills belief in myself and my abilities, fostering an environment where guidance, love and kindness are shared. Recognizing the continuous learning process, I embrace humility, acknowledging that while I value knowledge, I am humbled by the gifts shared with me and our team at Rise. Avoiding labels like ‘experts,’ I see myself as a vessel for this work, carrying leadership gifts that are welcomed. As I focus on my well-being, I try to spend time outside as much as possible; the mountains are my medicine and time on the trails brings me happiness and calm. This helps me to overcome challenges and barriers.” 

Question: What do you say to the haters?  

Annie: (Laughs) “Good question. Meeting people where they are at is so important. I’ve learned to be patient and recognize that where I am on my Reconciliation journey is different than where others are at, and that we need to hold space for folks to ground in Truth and reflect. When we do this, folks will be able to focus on and then lean into their values and then participate in co-creating a future that reflects what they want for themselves, for their children and for the next seven generations. I get it, not everyone is going to come along on this journey but every conversation regardless of how big or small, could spark curiosity for someone to take a step forward to learn and reflect – and then when they are ready, to act.” 

Question: What have you learned that surprised you on this journey?   

Annie: “I am humbled and grateful that this journey continues. I don’t always know what’s next until something is shared and perhaps that’s the surprising part. If you asked me 11 years ago what Rise would look 11 years later, I don’t think anything then would have compared to the beautiful Truth of this journey – a journey that has been shaped by and with, Indigenous women.” 

Question: What words of wisdom can you share for women in business? 

Annie: “Love yourself first. From the Grandfather teachings, ‘to know love is to know peace’. With love all things are possible. Love yourself so you can love others.” 

Question: As a Métis mother, Auntie, sister, daughter, partner and friend what do you want your daughter to know about herself and the world?   

Annie: “That she is loved. That she is the next generation and that she inspires me.” 

Question: What resources have you shared or come across that can help someone learn more?   

Annie: She is Wise Magazine by the Ontario Native Women’s Association (ONWA) is a valuable resource for Indigenous women walking in two worlds. At Rise, we acknowledge the impactful role of organizations like the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) in our communities. We have been invited into a relationship with and have contributed to NWAC, aiding in the development of resources that advocate for and empower Indigenous women, girls, Two-Spirit, transgender, and gender-diverse individuals. We participate in the Indspire Building Brighter Futures Bursary Program annually and last year, for the first time, in the Momentum Digital Dreamers Pa’pai tapiiksi Program – ‘Pa’pai tapiiksi’ means Dream Big, in Blackfoot. Both are fantastic opportunities to support learning and development for Indigenous youth. Additionally, our website offers curated resources like “Things We Like” and “Watch, Listen and Read”, featuring Indigenous businesses, books, films, and podcasts that promote awareness of Indigenous inclusion. Through these initiatives, we aim to amplify voices, embrace diversity, and catalyze change both locally and globally.” 

Celebrate with us by tagging, commenting, posting or messaging the inspiring women in your life today. #IWD2024 #Investinwomen #InspireInclusion