Celebrating Indigenous Peoples Success in Business

I am excited! Next week I travel to Toronto to witness two new inductees into the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business- Aboriginal Business Hall of Fame (ABHF). That is a mouthful! The two people being inducted this year are from BC and worth celebrating: Chief Clarence Louie of the Osoyoos Indian Band and Ruth Williams, CEO for All Nations Trust Company. 
The ABHF is in its 7th year of recognizing the outstanding achievements of Aboriginal business leaders from across Canada. The newest Laureates will be honoured at the CCAB’s 13th Annual Toronto Gala Dinner on February 15th, which is a sold out event. The host for the evening will be Canada AM’s Seamus O’Regan, with the Honourable Brian Tobin delivering the keynote speech. This will be my third gala dinner in Toronto and it is always a memorable event and one that pays tributes to the inductees in a good way. 
The Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB) began in 1984 in an effort to bring mainstream business and aboriginal people to do business together, foster relationships, and promote sustainability.  I am always impressed that CCAB was a forerunner in promoting aboriginal business some 25 years ago recognizing the potential and the opportunity of working with aboriginal people. CCAB is involved in many things including research, mentorships, scholarships and a Progressive Aboriginal Relations (PAR) program which certifies businesses that are making progress in working with Aboriginal peoples. http://www.ccab.com/homepage
One other important function CCAB does is promotes and recognizes leadership of Aboriginal people doing business through the Aboriginal Business Hall of Fame. (ABHF) “The ABHF recognizes Aboriginal persons whose business leadership and commitment to community and capacity building has made a substantive contribution to the economic and social well-being of Aboriginal people. Laureates are from across Canada and represent Metis, Inuit and First Nations persons.”
The ABHF was started in 2005 and has inducted thirteen people. Chief Billy Diamond, Irvin Goodon, Fred Carmichael, Suzanne Rochon Barnett, Garfield Flowers, Chief Harry Cook, Chief Victor Buffalo, Ron Jamieson, Nellie Cournoyea, Chief Judith Sayers, Chief Jim Boucher, Pita Aatami, and Mervin Dewasha have all been admitted to the Hall of fame. Next week in Toronto, most of the Laureates will be brought together for the first time and have the opportunity to gather and recognize the newest entrants Chief Clarence Louie and Ruth Williams. A lot of strategic conversations will be held in that room and I look forward to being inspired. You can  watch short DVD’s on what each person has accomplished at http://www.ccab.com/meet_the_hall_of_fame_laureates
Chief Clarence Louie is well known in BC and throughout Canada for all the businesses he has developed for his community and the capacity he has built. A golf course, vineyards, wine cellars, a Desert Cultural Centre, Resort and Spa, campground and RV parks, construction and readi-mix, daycare, gas and convenience store and a ski resort, Osoyoos Indian Band has led the economy in the areas of Osoyoos and Oliver. Chief Clarence has started a school of Enterprise where he shares his know how on how to do business. He and his staff tour people through their businesses and share their knowledge and expertise. Any questions, the Chief will answer. Clarence dedicates his life to business and is on the Board of Aboriginal Business Canada and has won many awards including a National Aboriginal Achievement Award for Business and Community Development. He is certainly an inspiration to First Nations people everywhere. He is quoted as saying “I share this success with my community because my accomplishments are my communities. “    I remember saying similar things two years ago and how true is that statement! Without the support and direction of the community, you cannot accomplish great things. Your members are the motivation, an important part of the team and set the vision of a brighter future.
Ruth Williams as CEO of All Nations Trust Company has also dedicated her life to business and business development . Ruth has led ANTCO since its inception in 1987. She is also a founding member of eight non-profit organizations that work to improve the quality of life for Aboriginal Peoples in B.C.’s Interior, including the Round Lake Treatment Centre, the Aboriginal Health Advisory Council and the Central Interior Ministry of Child and Family Services Advisory Board. In addition, she has belonged to dozens of Aboriginal organizations over the years, including her current roles as President of the Kamloops Native Housing Society, Vice Chair of the First Nations Market Housing Fund and Board Member of the BC First Nations Health Centre. In June 2010 Ruth was bestowed an honourary Doctor of Laws from Thompson Rivers University to honour her 25 plus years of leadership in social and economic development. Ruth’s comments on winning the award are “Over the course of my career, I have seen tremendous growth in Aboriginal business capacity and that it has been a privilege to work with so many successful aboriginal business people”. The number of Aboriginal peoples in business is growing every year and will continue to do so and I am sure there will be more inductees from BC in years to come.
Congratulations to Chief Clarence Louie and CEO Ruth Williams for your admittance to the Aboriginal Business Hall of Fame and I am excited to witness your induction and know that it is a great honour that both inductees this year come from BC! You make BC First Nations proud!

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