Crystal Behn, Crabtree McLennan Emerging Artist for the Fulmer Award

Photo: 2021 Awardee, Crystal Behn, I Am My Father’s Daughter, moose hide purse

This year’s Crabtree McLennan Emerging Artist designation in First Nations Art was presented to Crystal Behn, an artist of Dene and Carrier ancestry, for demonstrating excellence in the early phase of her career.  

Crystal, an artist from Fort Nelson First Nation, learned the art of beading, moccasin making and traditional harvesting as an adult. When her mother passed away, Crystal realized the beading tradition her mother had engaged in had to be carried on, so she took it upon herself to learn the art and her culture from her grandmother. But first she made sure she was addiction-free  so she could start focusing on her art and her culture under her grandmother’s direction. “I was over there as much as I could, absorbing as much culture and tradition as I could. She was always encouraging me and giving me the opportunity to learn.” 

“I learned a lot in a short period of time. I sat with my grandma every day on the couch, beading. It was such an honour to sit there and have that time with my grandma because now she’s gone,” Crystal says in her interview with CBC’s Sheryl MacKay. 

And now, Crystal is passing on her teachings to her own seven-year-old daughter. “Teaching her is one of the most important things to me. Seeing my daughter pick up beads and knowing she’s going to keep it going is the most amazing feeling.” 

2021 Crabtree McLennan Emerging Artist – Crystal Behn

Crystal started out with traditional works including moccasins and mukluks and has now expanded to making headbands, purses and clothing, always trying to incorporate new ideas. Crystal uses as many different natural materials as possible including hand smoked moose hide, moose antler, porcupine quills, glass stones, caribou hair, fish scales, birchbark and beads.  

Working with these materials gives Crystal an important connection to the land and reflects her commitment to honouring the process that goes into creating the hide from hunt to finished art piece.  

Whatever she can envision, she makes and that pushes her to keep creating and passing on her traditions. She is now teaching others as the Indigenous Programmer at Two Rivers Gallery in Prince George, where she works on small projects with the community. Crystal is one to watch as she continues her beading journey. See her work on social media at IG: @InherFootstepsdenedesigns or on FB: @InHerFootsteps AuthenticDeneDesigns 

The Crabtree McLennan designation aims to support, mentor and highlight emerging talent. It is named in honour of Emily Carr University Director, Aboriginal Programs, Brenda Crabtree and the UBC Museum of Anthropology’s Curator Emeritus, Bill McLennan. 

BC Achievement: Elevate Excellence. Share Success. Inspire Change.   

2022 BC Reconciliation Award nominations open November 15 #nominatenowBC

Poised to launch its second year of showcasing individuals and organizations whose work demonstrates a willingness to ‘paddle together’ on the reconciliation journey, the BC Reconciliation Award program is ready to elevate excellence and inspire achievement with nominations opening on November 15, 2021. After a year of acknowledging painful truths, now more than ever, reconciliation efforts need to guide the path forward. 

Rooted and inspired in the work of the Honourable Steven Point [Xwĕ lī qwĕl tĕl], 28th Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, the program aims to highlight reconciliation success models and inspire change: “we all must paddle in the same canoe”. 

2021 awardee xaȼqanaǂ ʔitkiniǂ (Many Ways of Doing the Same Thing) Research Team, through Dr. Christopher Horsethief, project co-lead and Ktunaxa scholar, shares the impact of receiving the BC Reconciliation Award: 

“The ultimate goal of our project is a parity between Western and Indigenous conceptualizations of health, wellness and resilience. This is reconciliation through the lens of scientific and academic research—Western and Ktunaxa counterparts calibrating themselves in response to each other’s input, enunciating conclusions that are robust in the sense that they describe the phenomenon in valid terms for both sides. The British Columbia Reconciliation Award has shone a light on a project that will not preference Western research over Ktunaxa research, or vice versa, thus supporting the idea that both are valid.” 

When it came to developing a community-driven and culturally informed approach to decolonizing relationships between health systems and Indigenous Nations, the xaȼqanaǂ ʔitkiniǂ (Many Ways of Doing the Same Thing) Research Team recognized early on that commitment to respectful engagement and co-learning would be crucial to success.  

The result is a truly reciprocal partnership between the Ktunaxa Nation Council, Interior Health, the University of Victoria and later the University of British Columbia founded on mutual goals of understanding and implementing what reconciliation means and looks like for community health in the Ktunaxa Nation.  

For their innovative contributions to reconciliation xaȼqanaǂ ʔitkiniǂ Research Team was awarded the inaugural British Columbia Reconciliation Award in April 2021. A partnership between BC Achievement and The Office of the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, the award program recognizes extraordinary individuals and organizations who have demonstrated exceptional leadership, integrity, respect, and commitment to furthering reconciliation with Indigenous peoples in the province of British Columbia, or inspired others to continue reconciliation efforts. 

“Reconciliation builds relationships and bridges the gap between two worlds through the efforts of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. By recognizing the truths of past wrongs and showcasing examples of how to make things right, others will be inspired to follow,” said BC Achievement Foundation board member Judith Sayers. “The British Columbia Reconciliation Award celebrates innovative and empowering ways to embark on this journey, designed and decided by Indigenous peoples, allowing them to thrive while making the world a better place.”  

Nominations for the 2022 BC Reconciliation Award open November 15, 2021 until January 15, 2022 at #nominatenowbc 

Photo: Hands of Elders and team members holding a bucket of bitterroot, a visual embodiment of Reconciliation in coming together, exchanging cultural knowledge, and connecting through a shared activity.

BC Achievement: Elevate Excellence. Share Success. Inspire Change.   

Sisters Sage IBA Awardee: Lynn-Marie Angus leading with authenticity and integrity

Photo: 2021 Awardee, Lynn-Marie Angus, Sisters Sage

Lynn-Marie Angus along with her sister, Melissa-Rae Angus, are co-owners of Sisters Sage the 2021 Indigenous Business (IBA) of the Year in the one-to-two-person category!  

Resolute about collaboration and her company’s embrace of the quadruple bottom line, Lynn-Marie espouses a mantra that Sisters Sage inspire other Indigenous women to be financially independent. This has been a core value of the company since its inception.  Launched with the goal of being their own bosses, Sisters Sage is cutting a path forward for other Indigenous women to follow with four clear goals: 

1. Financial Independence
2. Inspire and motivate other Indigenous women and youth to define their own financial futures through business
3. Showcase Indigenous people and culture in a positive way
4. Environmentally and socially conscious enterprise

Clarity in her purpose as a role model guides Lynn-Marie in advising others to lead with authenticity and integrity. In a recent interview on the Pow Wow Pitch Podcast with Sunshine Tedesco, Lynn-Maire boldly states that she chooses collaboration over competition and encourages others to hoard community not money.

Community is a key factor for Indigenous businesses and the 2021 IBA awardee cohort each demonstrate this commitment to giving back and it is an important consideration in the nomination and selection process. Lynn-Marie shares that community is inculcated into her DNA, influenced by the pot latch culture and she has woven these concepts into her business model as part of a shared value system. She states that it is super powerful to be a part of inspiring other entrepreneurs. Her ambition is to give back by sharing her expertise and taking the time to provide tips, and to be generous while honestly documenting hard lessons, both the good and the bad.

Photo: Sisters Sage soap bars – all products are vegan or vegetarian

Lynn-Marie attributes her focus and strengths to the inspiration she gains from her own role models pursing their entrepreneurial dreams. She actively participates in a peer-to-peer group The Lift Circle which is part of the Indigenous Lift Collective founded and led by Teara Fraser, owner of Iskwew Air, featured as Wonder Woman in the DC Comics “Wonderful Women of History” graphic novel, IBA alumni and an entrepreneurial force. The weekly zoom calls are a constant in Lynn-Marie’s life as she leads Sisters Sage into its next phase.

Congratulations to Sisters Sage on their IBA recognition!! Lynn Marie’s words of wisdom encouraging all aspiring entrepreneurs “to be that authentic person – who is not just a tokenized version of ourselves because we are looking for role models, people the younger generation can look up to” are imbued in her own entrepreneurial journey and serve as a proven and valuable message.

When Sisters Sage started, Lynn-Marie was given some helpful advice: “always keep talking about your business allowing it to evolve organically and the value proposition will be apparent.”

Keep talking Lynn-Marie! It all rings true, and we can’t wait to hear what Sisters Sage will do next!

Join us NOVEMBER 4 at 10:00 a.m. for the release of the Sisters Sage film as part of the premiere of the 2021 IBA Awardee recognition films on Follow Sisters Sage on their social media at IG: @sisters_sage; FB: @indigenousbathproducts; TW: @SistersSage3; or LinkedIn Lynn-Marie Angus

BC Achievement: Elevate Excellence. Share Success. Inspire Change.