How partnerships have helped bring attention to reconciliation 

Highlighting excellence has always been about more than the individual. For 19 years BC Achievement has elevated the communities that nurture and benefit from the people we recognize. The effects of their work ripple outward, building momentum and enriching countless lives.  

BC Achievement continually forges new relationships and adapts its programming to recognize new areas of excellence. The foundation is honoured to partner with the Office of the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia to recognize those, who from a place of deep respect and understanding, work to further reconciliation in our province.

The British Columbia Reconciliation Award represents BC Achievement’s mission and values, underscored by a deep and urgent sense of purpose. It is a mission shared by the Honourable Janet Austin, Lieutenant Governor of BC, who has chosen reconciliation as one of the key priorities of her mandate. This commitment includes participation in promotion of public awareness of the ongoing journey of reconciliation. 

The BC Reconciliation Award draws inspiration from the work of the Honourable Steven Point Point [Xwĕ lī qwĕl tĕl] 28th Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, and a founder of the Award. His hand-carved red cedar canoe, Shxwtitostel, was created as an enduring symbol of Reconciliation, recognizing, in his words that “we are all in the same canoe” and must “paddle together” to move forward. 

Members of the organizing committee, along with Honourable Steven Point, led in the creation and design of the BC Reconciliation Award, ensuring the award is founded on Indigenous culture and knowledge. 

The reconciliation journey strengthens relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. Recognizing past colonial injustices and healing those wounds with positive actions will lead to a brighter future. Lasting and meaningful change will take continued, consistent and committed effort. The partnership between the BC Achievement Foundation and the Office of the Lieutenant Governor of BC elevates those leaders who inspire, and teaches us all how to paddle in the same canoe. 

We look forward to announcing the 2022 Reconciliation Awardees. Learn more about the inaugural BC Reconciliation Award here. 

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

The Community Award jury steps into a difficult task 

With so many incredible nominations to read through, the task assigned to the jury members of the 2022 Community Award program was daunting.  

The Community Award program nomination period wrapped up January 31, and without much delay, this year’s jurors were put to work. 

The independent jury had a difficult, demanding and unenviable task. Nominations were reviewed, evaluated and then collectively discussed. Each jury member engaged in a vigorous selection process which culminated in a virtual jury meeting where deliberations were lively, passionate and thorough. Of the completed nominations submitted, the jury selected who best reflects excellence within the program’s unique focus; whose stories are elevated to share their success to all; and whose stories can and do inspire change. 

Jury members shared with us that, above all, their experience fills them with optimism and hope. That the privilege of reading each of the nominations teaches them of the remarkable individuals who are contributing daily to the fabric of the province. One jury member offered, “This nominee has dedicated their entire life and used their platform to inspire others in the city giving back in so many ways and capacities.” Another recognized that “the impact in small towns is different where everyone knows each other, and one person can become such an inspiration.” While another noted that “it’s interesting to see what can happen in a community with less resources.”

From Deas Lake to Invermere, Haida Gwaii to the West Coast Trail to the Lower Mainland and every corner of this province, people are committed to building stronger, more engaged communities. BC Achievement stewards that hope and optimism into action through elevating excellence that inspires achievement. Beginning with efforts of dedicated nominators to the decisions of committed jury members – the process is an active exchange of ideas and reflections on the remarkable and constant community commitment taking place throughout BC. 

We look forward to sharing the 2022 awardees and their stories next month! Keep in touch with us on social media to hear the announcement and learn the stories of these inspiring community leaders! 

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

An Indigenous Business partnership that is growing food sovereignty, trades training and youth empowerment

Last year we told you about Indigenous Business Award alumnus Jacob Beaton. Jacob and his wife Jessica, run Tea Creek on a small farm near Kitwanga, between Smithers and Terrace. During COVID, their region was particularly hard hit by food insecurity.  

Jacob and Jessica knew they had to help increase local agricultural production. They set on a mission to make produce more accessible and more affordable to their local community partly by helping train others to use agro-ecological techniques to increase food production. 

To take it a step further, Jacob began collaborating with local First Nations to offer them agricultural training. However, there was a shortage of skilled workers to farm the land so Jacob started a pilot project, called Indigenous Youth Works, teaching agro-ecological techniques and self-reliance. 

Taking it a step-further, Tea Creek has now partnered with the Industry Training Authority (ITA) through their non-profit, the Indigenous Food Sovereignty Association, to help strengthen trades training and employment opportunities for First Nations communities in the North. This growing partnership is a natural for both organizations. It supports Tea Creek’s vision for resilient, healthy communities and economies built on land-based programs through training local community members, and encouraging food sovereignty in those communities. And it aligns with ITA’s goal to connect employers with apprentices, training and opportunities in the trades. 

According to Stats Canada, Indigenous youth is the fastest growing demographic in the country and with a young and growing Indigenous population in BC, Indigenous youth are a resource to drive the future of the economy. The ITA helps bring trades training to youth and by doing so, they are also helping the Indigenous economy by supporting this growing Indigenous youth segment.  

Thanks to the efforts of ITA and its community engagement in 2019 over 3,000 Indigenous apprenticeships were underway in BC. In 2021 Tea Creek trained over 150 youth in Indigenous Food Sovereignty as part of their Indigenous Youth Works program. Sharing mutual goals, a benefit to First Nations community members in the north, and a far-reaching impact of economic resiliency, Tea Creek and ITA are a progressive force in this province.

ITA was featured in IBA’s ‘Spotlight Series’ launch at the 2019 Indigenous Business Award Gala, developed to honour and celebrate those organizations who play a vital role in cultivating innovation and powering BC’s growing Indigenous economy.  

Jacob Beaton was presented with the Indigenous Business Award as Young Entrepreneur of the Year at the inaugural 2009 Indigenous Business Award Gala for his innovative full-service Indigenous communications company. 

The 2022 Indigenous Business Award program launches on June 1. Nominate at

This post is sponsored by Indigenous Business Award (IBA) 2021 Category Sponsors BC Hydro, BC Transit, CN, Enbridge, NRT, Ovintiv, Seaspan, and Vancity. BC Achievement thanks these organizations for their support of the IBA program. 

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

Travelling the province with Dom Bautista 

Photo: Dom Bautista, 2020 Mitchell Award of Distinction

Dom Bautista received the Mitchell Award of Distinction designation as part of the 2020 Community Award program. His outstanding work with Amici Curiae Friends of Court provides legal services to vulnerable members of society and provides access to justice.

Upon receiving his award in Spring of 2020 during the initial lock down of COVID 19, Dom made a promise that once the pandemic ended, he would take it upon himself to meet each of his fellow 24 awardees. No easy feat with travel restrictions and the inability to have in person meetings for most of the past two years. However, Dom is determined to keep his word and has already met with two awardees in what we are affectionately calling Dom’s 2020 Community Award Tour. 

The first stop on Dom’s tour is Ivan Sayers. Ivan is the Honorary Curator of the BC Society for Museum of Original Costume and Curator Emeritus, Museum of Vancouver. Specializing in the study of women’s, men’s, and children’s fashions from 1700 to the present, Ivan has produced historical fashion shows and museum exhibitions all over western North America. A lecturer and mentor, his fashion shows have supported countless non-profits over the years.   

The pandemic has had a big impact on Ivan’s work. “All my public work has come to a halt because of COVID, and I’m not working with live audiences, so am doing more exhibitions with galleries online. I like telling stories, but I miss a live audience.” 

When asked what gives him hope, Ivan’s response is multifaceted. “There are degrees of hope; hope for today and hope for the long range. Hope that the world will be a better place tomorrow than it once was.” His hope for British Columbians is resolution for COVID and for fair treatment of First Nations. “These have to be resolved so we can be united and moved forward, that’s what I hope for people.”

As for his hopes for himself, this 75-year-old wants to live to 104! 

Ivan suggests that others can learn about and help with his cause by following his lead: “I started collecting historical clothing because it’s the most personal of artifacts – which can tell you about the society, individual commerce and trade.”  

Currently, Ivan is working on an exhibition opening at the Museum of Vancouver in January 2023 on the influence of Asian cultures in western fashion. He’s energized by the level of support the exhibition is receiving and it infuses his goal to have a clothing and textile museum. His aim is to create a space where all stakeholders can come together to showcase textile collections and house a resource and teaching institution. 

Next stop on Dom’s 2020 Community Award Tour is Dr. Paige Axelrood. As the founder of the Scientist in Residence Program, Paige developed and built an educational program to support teachers and help students discover their inner scientist. Elementary students across the Vancouver School District have experienced hands-on science and discovered the natural world through the program. Paige’s vision to partner teachers with scientists to facilitate hands-on, inquiry-based lessons has helped change the delivery of science education while elevating the learning trajectory of many young students.    

“The program has brought so much to teachers, students and their families. It has brought science to the forefront; and how much students can engage and love science and how they can explore the world and see science as part of everyday life and not limited to ‘scientists’ in laboratories.” Paige’s aha moment came at Queen Elizabeth School Annex when a kindergarten student, upon finding out that Paige was a scientist, asked ‘where is your white lab coat’. 

On the subject of what gives one hope, Paige is optimistic. “I always hold on to hope, it is the way I am. It comes from my family, love, friends, community, nature and the younger generation. These generations are growing up with environmental challenges, which no doubt, they will address with sage ideas.” 

As Dom’s tour of the province continues, he leaves us with these words, “I hope we each find inspiration in the work that we do so we can make British Columbia a better place for future generations. Giving back, no matter how big or how small, will and can make a profound difference to someone.” 

Thank you, Dom, for continuing the journey and empowering others to lead through their ability to give. We look forward to further updates as you cross the province and connect with your next 22 new friends! 

Watch the full interview with Ivan Sayers on BC Achievement’s YouTube channel

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

Raven Reads – Nicole McLaren on reconciliation

Photo: 2020 Indigenous Business Awardee, Nicole McLaren

Driven by a mission to create a safe space for dialogue while providing opportunities to learn about other cultures and history and build on reconciliation, entrepreneur Nicole McLaren is leading the way with her company Raven Reads Books

In 2017, as CEO and founder, Nicole launched Raven Reads – a subscription box service that delivers custom, curated books and giftware written or created by Indigenous people from around the world. Three years later, Nicole, a member of Métis Nation BC, was recognized for her business excellence, receiving the Indigenous Business Award for the Business of the Year. Since then, she has grown her business, added to her staff, and expanded the reach of her subscription box company.  

And this year, she has been nominated for the RBC Canadian Women of Influence awards! 

Raven Reads was born from a desire to educate others about the devastating impact of residential schools on Indigenous people in Canada. Nicole’s journey began when she started a book club to focus on books by Indigenous authors and to do her own part for reconciliation. This club has grown into a successful Indigenous female-owned business with subscribers all over the world. Raven Reads started as the quintessential reconciliation toolkit and it has evolved into a platform for amplifying Indigenous authors and entrepreneurs. 

The Raven Reads subscription box delivers books and giftware created by Indigenous authors and entrepreneurs, elevating other Indigenous-run businesses along with her own. According to Nicole, Raven Reads has “invested over $300,000 into other Indigenous businesses and authors across Canada and the USA.” 

In 2021, Nicole served on the selection committee for the inaugural British Columbia Reconciliation Award, reviewing submissions from around the province. She and her fellow jurors had the daunting task of selecting nine recipients from the many individuals and organizations working towards reconciliation.  

 “I frequently ask myself what does reconciliation mean and what role can I play in this? I know that reconciliation means different things to different people. To many, it’s about establishing and maintaining a mutually respectful relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in this country. For that to happen, there must be awareness of our collective past along with action that will change behaviour.” 

To learn more about Nicole McLaren and Raven Reads Books, visit

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

Innovation meets science meets art: the contribution of prosthetic artist, Ann McLaren 

Photo: Ann McLaren, 2021 Award of Distinction, Carter Wosk Award Applied Art + Design

A craniofacial prosthetic artist, Ann McLaren combines her love of figurative sculpture in a practical way making people’s lives better.  

Ann McLaren creates silicone facial prosthetics for patients with all sorts of unique situations from trauma to cancer to congenital conditions. “What we want to do is get them to a place where they feel comfortable. The prosthetics are made from a medical grade silicone, and they are custom designed and custom tinted to the patient to restore symmetry, protect areas that are perhaps open, and help with function.” 

“They walk in with a bandage on, and they walk out and people don’t notice anything if I’ve done a good job. It can be completely life-changing because it’s something they’ve never experienced.” 

Whether creating noses or ears out of silicone for her patients, Ann has brought her unique talents and experiences to every project including her former work making life-like models for museums or special effects for film and TV. 

Photo: Prosthetics made from a medical grade silicone, custom designed and custom tinted for each patient by Ann McLaren, 2021 Award of Distinction, Carter Wosk Award Applied Art + Design

After graduating from Emily Carr University of Art + Design, Ann found an immediate connection to figurative art and sculpture which led her to working on special effects in film. “I was always interested in doing makeup effects because it’s a lot of figurative things, painting, silicones, transforming people. I was really fortunate to work with a fellow in Toronto, Gordon Smith. He was known for the X-Men series. I helped develop this gel silicone technology primarily on Mystique.” 

Ann has a clear way of describing her transition from special effect to working with facial prosthetics. “When you’re doing makeup effects, you do kind of fantastical creatures or characters but there’s also a lot blood and guts and scars. And now working as an anaplastologist, instead of deconstructing, I’m trying to reconstruct people.” 

She later explored new avenues of her medium by studying forensic facial reconstruction and employed these skills in creating portraits for a Missing Persons Unit. Ann also specialized in making lifelike recreations for international museums such as the Florida Museum of Natural History, the DNA Learning Center in Cold Springs New York, and the NASA Space Center in Houston, Texas. 

This talented awardee has combined innovation, science and art and applied them in a practical way that makes people’s lives better. 

The board of the BC Achievement Foundation named Ann McLaren as the 2021 Award of Distinction Laureate honouring her career and lifetime achievement in craniofacial prosthetics for this life-changing work that translates a practical need into something beautiful. 

Check out Ann’s profile page at to read more about this Award of Distinction recipient and the Carter Wosk Award in Applied Art + Design. 

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