Bears' Lair TV is a Reality Show with REAL Impact

It's still Edu-tainment

As a new reality TV Series, Bears’ Lair will appeal to viewers from various demographics. because we will build on the winning  combination of  the popular genre of 

‘Edu-tainment’ TV that provides both:

Education + Entertainment.

Many viewers across multiple demographics will tune in to learn about business tips, Indigenous entrepreneurs and the communities they represent.

Others may  just want to be entertained by interactions between our Indigenous Judges (‘The Bears’) , our episode Guest Judges and Contestants.

It's still a competition

We know Indigenous community-based businesses often embrace cooperation and collaboration.
By focusing on honouring Indigenous values such as respect for diversity, we will create a healthy competition.

We will promote what we call the Spirit of Co-opetition.

To us, the Spirit of  ‘Co-opetition’ means working together to support and elevate all Contestants in a co-operative, collaborative manner…
which helps to raise the profile of Indigenous businesses across the nation.

With the goal to create a ‘Reality TV show with REAL impact,’ we made these 5 decisions…

Indigenous business owners retain full ownership and control; they  don’t need to give up ANY ownership or portion of their business to an outsider – the Bears (our Indigenous core Judges) and Guest Judges on episodes are simply advising, discussing then selecting winners. They do not invest their own money and are not looking to take over any portion of anyone’s business for their own gain…they’re just awarding prize money to deserving contestants that the Bears’ Lair team has raised from Sponsors who are ReconciliACTION champions

The Bears will consider the entrepreneurs’ social purpose, focus on sustainability and range of positive benefits  they provide – how people, the planet and communities are respected and impacted by the business and its owner’s activities. 

We call this balancing the 4 P’s of a Quadruple Bottom Line: consideration of People, the Planet, Profit and Purpose. 

When individuals co-operate and collaborate by sharing ideas, knowledge and resources, everyone benefits from the results. To us, co-operation and collaboration  are the keys to creating a space for healthy competition.

6 of the 18 Contestants will win prize money on our TV series, yet everyone wins when we work together to:

  • Co-create a strong support network of peers and valuable community connections
  • We elevate the profiles of Indigenous entrepreneurs and their stories through a national spotlight,
  • Increase access to mentoring and training opportunities with Bears’ Lair Coaches, Judges and Sponsors throughout the year.

We know that a wealth of knowledge will be shared with – and between – our Contestants AND the larger  APTN viewers and online #BearsLairCommunity.

18 Indigenous entrepreneurs will compete on Season 1 of Bears’ Lair TV for their chance to win $160,000 from our panel of Judges… ‘The Bears’ and episode Guest Judges.

  • Over the first 6 try-out episodes, all 18 Contestants will pitch to the Judges (3 per episode).
  • The 6 winners from each episode will each win $10,000 and advance to the semi-finals. 
  • The 6 semi-finalists will have 1 week to ‘polish’ their plans, then re-pitch to the Judges. 
  • 4 finalists will advance to the Season Finale, where 1 Contestant will win $100,000

Our Judges and Contestants will share a wealth of knowledge with the Contestants and the larger #BearsLairCommunity (APTN viewers and our online followers) by creating supportive, co-operative, collaborative spaces for a healthy competition.

In following the Indigenous values of shared prosperity and wealth redistribution, after the Season Finale airs on APTN this fall, the #BearsLairCommunity will determine which runner-ups win $20,000 in prize money! Through online voting, 4 runner-ups will be chosen to win $5,000 each to help move their business forward this year.

Watch for ways to join the #BearsLairCommunity to share your insights about each episode and to be able to vote online to reward Indigenous entrepreneurs with prize money!

Learning from the past to shape a new future.

Where we started…

In August of 2021, Bears’Lair founder Geena Jackson was notified that APTN had approved her initial concept for a new game show  about Indigenous entrepreneurs.  Geena contacted a trusted ally for Indigenous business development, Kristin Kozuback of Spiritlink Communications, to help turn her idea for a new, Indigenous-focused TV series into a platform that elevates and showcases Indigenous entrepreneurs across the nation.

We drew from over 40 years of combined experience as entrepreneurs and thousands of hours of insights gathered from our respective coaching, training and empowering emerging Indigenous entrepreneurs, established companies, Economic Development teams, lenders and a wide range of service providers working to support Indigenous business development.

We knew we had to be different than ‘other’ shows…

  • We wanted to feature Indigenous entrepreneurs and Indigenous business experts as ‘The Bears’…our core Judges for the show.
  • We wanted to choose Guest Judges who actively engage in ReconciliACTION for organizations with a proven record of Indigenous community engagement (they strive to buy Indigenous, hire and promote Indigenous employees, increase Indigenous procurement, support Indigenous initiatives and organizations, etc).
  • We wanted to increase access ALL YEAR to business training, tutorials and individual coaching by experts who are familiar with Indigenous business models, value systems and ways being.
  • We wanted to create a community of like-minded people eager to support each other, beyond just being competitors on our show.
  • We wanted to award cash directly to deserving entrepreneurs to help them move their business goals forward (especially for Indigenous businesses that, due to systemic barriers, often have limited access to capital).
  • Finally, we knew that Indigenous entrepreneurs want to retain all aspects of self-determination and ownership. 
  • We wanted to find a way to honour how Indigenous entrepreneurs often prioritize community member jobs, sharing resources with others, reducing environmental impacts and increasing access to goods and services in their region over earning a significant profit. 
    Spiritlink calls this ‘the challenge of balancing a QUADRUPLE Bottom Line’…striving to find a business model that respects and balances the 4 P’s: People, Planet, Profit and PURPOSE. 

How Bears' Lair will make 'SHIFT' happen on primetime TV.

Bears' Lair will be the first-ever Indigenous Business 'Edu-tainment' reality TV series combining Education + Entertainment

We know there is ‘edu-tainment’ appeal in showcasing Indigenous businesses & values

The Bears’ Lair crew knows that reality TV business competitions appeal to a wide audience demographic as part of trusted hybrid genre of edu-tainment TV – a combination of education + entertainment.

The national TV exposure and online promotions provided through Bears’ Lair will offer unique edu-tainment opportunities by working to:
  • Educate viewers about the diversity of Indigenous Peoples, businesses & communities.
  • Showcase the resiliency, strengths and scope of established and emerging Indigenous businesses across what’s now known as Canada.
  • Facilitate valuable connections among Indigenous entrepreneurs and for Indigenous entrepreneurs to help move them towards their goals (such as potential suppliers, buyers, employees, researchers, managers or advisors, investors or funders).
  • Raise awareness about the values woven into many Indigenous enterprises (sustainability, honouring traditional values and protocols, respecting diversity, building community wealth and capacity, and protecting places, languages, resources and ways of being)

By elevating Indigenous business profiles and values,, we can showcase the benefits of balancing people, planet and profit with purpose.

Check out our graphic comparing the differences commonly found between two approaches to business (below)…and how we think we can create common ground to move everyone towards Reconciliation.


We recognize there are issues with 'capitalist competitions'

The idea of a celebrating purely capitalist values doesn’t align well with many Indigenous entrepreneurs and communities.

Current business competitions typically focus on promoting a capitalist economic framework. That model is literally foreign – if not frustrating – to many Indigenous people who put community health and prosperity FIRST.

A shark-like colonizer / Western / capitalist approach is often inconsistent with Indigenous values and economic systems. Our Contestants do not have to deal with:

  • Convincing Judges that they can earn significant financial returns by investing (which might benefit the Judge the most),
  • Prioritizing profit above serving people and respecting the environment,
  • Giving up control or a portion of their business to an outsider,
  • Getting locked into complex, long-term contracts to meet obligations,
  • Dealing with Judges who are sometimes condescending or combative,
  • Switching their ‘traditional’ production methods simply to save money,
  • Thinking short-term gain instead of long-term impact sustainability.
  • Talking about ‘scaling up and expanding’ to build wealth…so they can sell parts or the whole the business later to the highest bidder.


Bears’ Lair TV is committed to ‘doing BUSINESS reality TV BETTER’

We will showcase and celebrate Indigenous values such as cooperation and community prosperity woven into many businesses….yet we’ll still maintain a competitive spirit.

We start by promoting the ‘Spirt of Co-opetition’ 

This is the idea that every entrepreneur, and therefore every community, will do better if we all cooperate and collaborate to elevate each other through a healthy competition.

Together, we can raise the profile of Indigenous businesses. Every time an Indigenous business succeeds, the whole region often benefits from stronger and more efficient supply chain networks, reduced transportation costs for goods and services, a lower environmental impact, local jobs and more local spending. 

To us, Indigenous business models are the foundation for sustainability and shared prosperity. 

To us, this is also a key step in paving a shared path towards economic Reconciliation and developing a more diversified economy…which better positions our nation to compete against other countries.

Summary of the Five Indigenous Twists built into Bears’ Lair.

We came up with five FUNdamental Indigenous Twists’ (see the graphic above) for our show and business model that we think will best honour, celebrate and Feed the Spirit of Indigenous Business. The key aspects of our twists include:

  • Building capacity and community before, during and after the TV Series is filmed and airs.
    We provide opportunities for Contestants to access group and individual coaching sessions before we start filming, during the episode filming in March and throughout the summer months leading up to the series airing on APTN in fall. We will provide webinars, tools and coaching support through our Resource Den, so that EVERY Indigenous entrepreneur contestant has the chance to shine on TV and keep moving their business forward throughout 2022.
  • Promoting the ‘Spirit of Co-opetition’ – so everyone benefits from sharing ideas, contacts and opportunities.
  • Choosing a core panel of Indigenous Judges  – The Bears – to anchor each episode in Season 1 who will
      • These esteemed Indigenous business leaders and role models will be encouraging and supportive yet provide valuable, constructive criticism and feedback to Contestants.
      • They will award “Points for Purpose” by assessing community and environmental impact, not just looking for profit potential.  It’s all about the Quadruple Bottom Line for Indigenous businesses: finding a balance between PEOPLE, PLANET, PROFIT AND PURPOSE. 
      • They will follow up with Contestants to provide on-going mentoring and support, long after the episodes are filmed. 
  • Awarding prize money by Judges on each episode without strings…
    This is a crucial shift from typical competitions so Indigenous entrepreneurs can maintain full ownership and self-determination. Our Bears are advisors looking to share insights, not investors looking to profit.
  • Redistributing wealth.
    The #BearsLairCommunity will vote after the season finale to reward four fan favourite runner-ups! with $5,000 each to move their businesses forward. 

Email us to get involved in shaping webinars, stories and content for the Resource Den…
or consider stepping up as a Bears’ Lair Sponsor today!