The BC Achievement Foundation honours winners of the 2023 Indigenous Business Awards

Eight businesses were recognized at the awards at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver last week

On November 1, the BC Achievement Foundation held its 15th annual Indigenous Business Awards, and everyone who took the stage couldn’t help but rave about how much the event has grown. Some 600 people gathered at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver to honour the winners (each who chose their own walk-up song, which was a very awesome touch).

It’s gala season, so there’s no shortage of giant celebratory events in the city, but this one was extra-special because of details like that. Co-hosts Geena Jackson and Chief David Jimmie asked every table to assign an Uncle or Auntie to monitor noise levels—to varying levels of success—after all, excitement and celebration come at a certain volume.

Eight businesses took the stage to receive their awards, then came the part that’s always my favourite: the speeches. Every single recipient was engaging, gracious and uniquely moving. Marcia Turner of Daxgedim Haanak Nation Building remarked how humbling it was to be standing alongside such great businesses, and Darien Kovacs, founder of Jelly Academy, acknowledged the “whispers in the room”—a few years ago at these same awards, he said, Brian Gillespie of Tale’awtxw Aboriginal Capital Corporation whispered to Kovacs that one day, he’d be up there.

There was humour, too—what would an awards ceremony be without some levity? Highlights included Totem Design House owner Erin Brillon’s thank-you to her husband: “If it wasn’t for your unwavering support, I’d probably still be working in a basement somewhere… and maybe you would be too!” and Teara Fraser of Iskwew Air, who acknowledged several of her ancestors and then said “This is my sneaky way of finding more cousins.”

Everywhere, there was connection and celebration. Congratulations to all of the winners.

Young Entrepreneur of the Year:
The Ballantyne Project, Maple Ridge

Business of the Year – one-to-two person enterprise:
Daxgedim Haanak Nation Building, Comox

Business of the Year – three-to-ten person enterprise:
Totem Design House, Courtenay

Business of the Year – 11+ person enterprise:
Jelly Academy, Fort Langley

Community-owned Business of the Year – one entity:
Sugar Cane Archaeology, Williams Lake

Community-owned Business of the Year – two or more entities:
Tiičma Enterprises, Campbell River

Business Partnership of the Year:
Shxw’owhamel Land Sea Limited Partnership (SLLP), Hope

Award of Distinction for Lifetime Achievement:
Teara Fraser, Richmond

If you’d like to nominate someone for an Indigenous Business Award, now’s the time: nominate here.