Entrepreneur puts plain language at core of her Indigenous business

Photo by Angie Saltman

Between managing two businesses and pursuing both SFU’s Plain Language Certificate and Indigenous Business Leadership Executive MBA (IBL EMBA) at once, Angie Saltman has plenty to keep her busy. 

Angie and her husband are the founders of Saltmedia, an Indigenous business and full-stack digital marketing agency based in Treaty 8 territory in Grande Prairie, Alberta. The couple also created another business called IT Horizons, which specializes in IT managed services. Both businesses are majority Indigenous owned. 

“Our core services at Saltmedia are website and graphic design, and they’re all about messaging and information architecture,” Angie explains.

When she came across the Plain Language Certificate, she was looking for a way to upgrade her skills in communicating technical information. But along her learning journey, she was surprised to discover not only a personal passion for plain language, but also an interest in furthering her studies. After all, education had never been important when she was growing up, and she’d even dropped out of high school. 

She recalls the first plain language course she took, Research, Analysis, and Information Design, helped her connect deeper with her Indigenous culture through the research assignments she worked on.

“I’m noticing it all over the place now—high literacy has its place, but does it belong on a government website when you’re applying for a bus pass?”

Angie also works with not-for-profits and other Indigenous businesses, organizations and Nations to improve their communication using plain language.

“We want to bring their point out concisely, without a big wall of text, so people who are at my mum’s level of literacy don’t have to be able to read everything, since there are visuals to go with it,” she explains.

“The Plain Language course has been taking me places I never thought it would take me. It’s been a really amazing experience.” 

Eventually, the Plain Language program inspired her to pursue a new idea: creating an Indigenous-owned and operated stock photography website filled with authentic media and graphics from Indigenous communities. 

The program also gave her the confidence to pursue her EMBA, she adds. She’s now successfully completed her first semester and has already begun to implement improvements to her business based on what she’s learned. 

Angie says she now realizes the importance of plain language in both her personal and professional life.

“To be a great communicator, words need to be used in a way that everybody can understand,” she says. 

“Whether English is your first language or your fifth language, and whatever your literacy level is, people deserve the right to understand information they’re consuming.”

By Bernice Puzon