$5,000 = A Life-Altering Decision

If I were to tell you that you have the ability to take, what looks like a really bad financial deal, and turn it into a positive, life-altering decision… Would you believe me?

Many, many years ago in a land before time… Wait- wrong picture show. Many years ago, I saw a posting for a small contract job organizing a gathering for the Commissioner of the Yukon. The contract was $5,000 to organize a potlatch. I barely knew what a potlatch was, but I wanted that contract and the 6 months of work that followed, all for the grand sum of $5,000.

It changed my life.

Me with Commissioner of the Yukon, Honourable Judy Gingell, & Grand Chief of the Council of Yukon First Nations, Shirley Adamson at the Commissioner’s Potlatch Feast

The original plan was to hold a nice cultural event hosted by the Commissioner, a member of the Kwanlin Dun First Nation. People envisioned it as an afternoon tea type of event- well, everyone except the women I worked with. They saw a grand celebratory potlatch in Canada’s Yukon, the first in almost 100 years.

And off we went, across the Yukon to every community, to schools, to community centers, to Chief and Council meetings- We met everyone.

3,000 people showed up to our wonderful, all-day cultural gathering. We ate, we danced, we shared gifts and we celebrated traditional activities. At one point the night before, I was up to my elbows in blood-filled water soaking a moose hide so the Elder who would skin it the next day could get a good night’s sleep.

The team at Golden Predator, the gold exploration company I ran

That little event that probably netted me about 15 cents an hour, led from one contract to the next, from one exciting and unique project to the next.  And the knowledge I acquired from a culture not-of-my-own was incredible. Looking back, it was one of my most significant events in my career, providing education, knowledge but also friendships and experiences that never would have been acquired had I taken a traditional path.

From this little event, I took on a project where I developed and delivered 40 conferences, seminars, and workshops in 8 months. That led to organizing a very elite group of attendees at a remote gold conference which led to delivering gold conferences in Washington DC and London UK. And eventually, led to running a gold exploration company and learning more than I thought possible about nuclear energy. And so on to where I am today.

Governor and Former Secretary of Energy Rick Perry and I at enCore Energy’s Rosita Plant Grand Opening, February 2024

Now, did I know this was a life-altering opportunity, or did I make it life-altering?  Did I perceive the opportunity, or did I open myself up to a project that was so far outside my background that I opened up a future of new and unique opportunities?

I choose the latter.


About the Author

Janet Sheriff

An innovative entrepreneur, Janet brings her extensive experience in all aspects of strategic planning, management, indigenous affairs and communications to start ups, new ventures and the mining & exploration sectors. Janet focuses her entrepreneurial spirit, leadership skills and vision to create new opportunities, award-winning innovative programs and new ways of conducting business. Her strong commitment to community engagement, sustainability and inclusion provides her the proven ability to work effectively and respectfully in cross-cultural environments.