8 young entrepreneurs named winners of the annual BC Indigenous Business Awards


Elijah Mack of Merritt BC and Lynn-Marie Angus of Vancouver say they did not have a solid business background before running their business, yet the two young First Nations members have just been recognized for their excellence in this field. .

In late October, the BC Achievement Foundation – an independent British Columbia organization established in 2003 to recognize the achievements of entrepreneurs, artists, community leaders, youth and volunteers in British Columbia – announced eight recipients. , including Mack’s Kekuli Café and Angus wellness wholesaler, Sisters Sage, for its annual Aboriginal Business Awards.

Mack was named Young Entrepreneur of the Year, while Sisters Sage was named Business of the Year in the one- to two-person business category.

Other recipients include Tsawwassen Shuttles, a Delta-based company that provides transportation and street cleaning services, and Indigenous Corporate Training Inc., in Port Coquitlam.

The recipients of the Aboriginal Business Award for Young Entrepreneur of the Year and Business of the Year each receive a cash prize of $ 2,500.

Nominees for the awards must be based in British Columbia, be at least 51 percent Indigenous, and have been in business for at least two years.

Mack, a Nuxalk member from Bella Coola in northwestern British Columbia, has campaigned for the establishment of Indigenous Friendship Centers in urban areas for over a decade, before purchasing a Kekuli Café franchise in Merritt two years ago to his co-founders Sharon Bond. and Darren Hogg.

A new Kekuli Café branch is under construction in Kamloops, British Columbia (Jenifer Norwell / CBC)

He says he didn’t do post-secondary education before embarking on the adventure, but jumped at an opportunity that was a childhood dream.

“I take every opportunity as an opportunity for growth,” Mack, 25, told Jenifer Norwell of CBC in Kamloops, where he also plans to open a Kekuli Café branch.

“I was 12 when I got home to Bella Coola, and it was just me and mom. She must have asked me what I wanted to do with a living, and at that point I said: ‘You know what? Being my own boss because I hate being told what to do.’ “

WATCH | Mack says his experience shows young people that anything is possible:

Mack says he struggled with racism and discrimination early in his life and felt hopeless before, but says he took these challenges as learning opportunities and has managed to overcome them.

“I always say I have nothing to lose and everything to gain, so I appreciate every opportunity,” he said.

The story of Sisters Sage is also about hard work and seizing opportunities.

Angus, 37, a member of the Gitxaala, Nisga’a, Cree and Métis nations living in Vancouver, worked in a construction company for a few years, before opening an online business with his sister in September 2018, selling soaps. handmade and bath bombs.

She says she has faced racism and sexism at work and her sister was at risk of becoming homeless at the time, but thanks to a small financial help from the University of Colombia Entrepreneurship Program -British, the sisters were able to start their business.

“We have to do something better and… we want to be our own bosses. We want to promote our personal growth, our growth financially, spiritually, culturally and all these different aspects of our life.”

WATCH | Angus explains why she started a wellness product business with her sister:

Angus encourages aspiring Indigenous entrepreneurs to step out of their comfort zone and do something different.

“Growth doesn’t come at the speed of comfort – you have to put yourself in awkward situations to gain that growth, learn, and progress.”

Handmade soap products from Sisters Sage Company of Lynn-Marie Angus. (Submitted by Lynn-Marie Angus)

The full list of BC Indigenous Business Award recipients this year includes:

  • Young Entrepreneur of the Year: Elijah Mack, Kekuli Café, Merritt.
  • Company of the Year: One to two person company: Sisters Sage, Vancouver.
  • Company of the Year: Company of three to ten people: Indigenous Corporate Training Inc., Port Coquitlam.
  • Company of the year: Company of 11 people or more: Tsawwassen Shuttles Inc., Tsawwassen.
  • Community Business of the Year – One Entity: Thunderbird RV Park & ​​Cottage Resort, Campbell River.
  • Community Business of the Year – two or more entities: GitmaXmyk‘ay Nisga’a Economic Development Corporation, Prince Rupert.
  • Business Partnership of the Year: Salish Seas LP, North Vancouver.
  • Award of Distinction: Former Saulteau First Nation Chief Ken Cameron, Moberly Lake.


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