What is BC Achievement?

Photo: BC Achievement Award Medallion designed by Robert Davidson, OC, OBC

BC Achievement Foundation is a non-profit organization with a mission to honour excellence and inspire achievement throughout British Columbia. Established in 2003, the foundation currently runs five annual award programs that recognize the accomplishments of individuals, groups and organizations in the areas of community leadership, applied art + design, First Nations art, Indigenous entrepreneurship and reconciliation.   

There’s no shortage of excellence in British Columbia. For 20 years, the BC Achievement Foundation has celebrated the province’s finest. The only organization of its kind in Canada to honour entrepreneurs, artists, leaders, visionaries and volunteers, BC Achievement shares the singular stories of these exceptional individuals. 

But it’s always been about more than the individual. It’s about understanding and investing in the communities that carry them, the people and places that make up our province. Every one of the recipients is a conduit for change; the effects of their work rippling outward, building momentum while impacting countless lives. BC Achievement programming ignites a movement that captures the best of BC and carves a path forward for others to follow. 

The Community Award recognizes those who provide exceptional service to their communities, making a huge impact while inspiring change. Nominations from around the province are indicative of the unique contributions these individuals make at a local level. 

Celebrating British Columbians whose work directly contributes to the cultural and economic fabric of the province, the Award in Applied Art + Design program shines a light on functional art. The awardees of this program enhance day-to-day life while enriching our collective experiences. 

The inspiring work of BC’s Indigenous artists is captured through the Award in First Nations Art program that celebrates the place where art, culture and commerce unite. In recognizing artistic excellence, this program honours the First Nations traditions that permeate the work, while creating a platform for engagement, mentorship and storytelling.   

The Indigenous Business Award program recognizes and inspires business achievement. The program signifies hope as Indigenous ways are leading the way. The Indigenous enterprises being recognized with an Indigenous Business Award provide new opportunities, are key drivers in the province’s economy, and help make all of our communities more resilient, inclusive and prosperous. 

BC Achievement’s newest award program is a partnership with the Office of the Lieutenant Governor. The BC Reconciliation Award recognizes individuals, groups and organizations who demonstrate exceptional leadership, integrity, respect and commitment to furthering reconciliation with Indigenous peoples in the province of British Columbia or inspire others to continue reconciliation efforts. 

Many of these awardee’s stories, their journeys, motivation and their successes are documented in a growing collection of films found on BC Achievement’s website and YouTube channel.  

With every story shared, there is the potential for inspiration to spark elsewhere. It’s this potential and these small sparks that allow hope to rise-up within our province. And it is through honouring excellence, that we aim to inspire achievement and steward the best of BC. 

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

International Day for the Elimination of Racism – with Suresh Kurl 

Photo: 2022 Community Award recipient, Suresh Kurl (third from left)

The United Nations proclaimed March 21 as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. By acknowledging anti-racism efforts, we can create a more equitable society where everyone thrives regardless of their race, ethnicity or cultural background. 

Embodying the very essence of this initiative, BC Achievement alumnus Suresh Kurl advocates for the celebration of all cultures while comfortably sharing his own faith and beliefs.  

Suresh is a 2022 recipient of the BC Achievement Community Award for his work raising awareness on how we can all contribute toward the elimination of racism.  

“The only solution is for people to understand what racism is and how they can deal with it; [To ask themselves] do they have any racist views in their heart? It’s not an easy journey because you are overhauling your personality and thinking better.” 

An accomplished writer, Suresh has connected with his fellow British Columbians for over four decades through articles on multiculturalism, equality, justice and faith.  

“I’m a writer and a speaker and that’s how I started going out and talking to people and telling them what I think about racial prejudices and discrimination and how we can deal with those issues.” 

Until recently Suresh served as a member of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation, and he remains a regular contributor to and participant in the annual Raise Your Hands Against Racism event. Serving on the National Parole Board for five years provided a unique lens which Suresh continues to use today as he sits on the community policing committee as an active member.  

A leader whose words turn into actions, Suresh challenges us all to look deeper and be better citizens.  For Suresh, it is through his faith: “If we believe God lives in us, then His attributes—kindness, and compassion, must live in us as well, and therefore, every living being should realize that discriminating against any human being is discriminating against God Himself.” 

Whether through his efforts to showcase the Hindu festivals of lights – Diwali, or the season of spring – Holi, Suresh shares his experiences to demonstrate commonality between us and how we are better together. His energy and drive have contributed to improved understanding and dialogue, in the areas of citizenship, multiculturalism, race relations, and interfaith harmony. 

The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is a time to assess how well we are supporting all members of our community and reflect on how we can help to eliminate race-based hate and prejudice. You can also learn more by participating in events in your community.

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

Salmon n’ Bannock – an Indigenous entrepreneurship success story

Photo: Inez Cook, Owner, Salmon n’ Bannock and 2013 Indigenous Business Awardee

Local restaurant, Salmon n’ Bannock Bistro has been a shining light in demonstrating reconciliation in action through the power of food. 

Salmon n’ Bannock Bistro is the only Indigenous owned and operated restaurant in Vancouver and was awarded Outstanding Business Achiever at the Indigenous Business Award Gala in 2013.  

At the Bistro, Inez and her team proudly serve wild local fish, organic and free-range meats, bannock and other culinary delights inspired by a variety of First Nations traditions. Salmon n’ Bannock’s has received top accolades from the food and beverage industry. 

At the time of receiving the business honour, owner and co-founder Inez Cook of the Nuxalk Nation spoke of the restaurant’s early beginnings. Inez and then co-owner Remi Caudron saw an opportunity, prior to the Vancouver Olympics, to open a fully licensed restaurant serving First Nations cuisine. They created a menu based on traditional ingredients prepared to please a modern palate. Not only were they sharing their traditional food with a wider audience, their efforts were also helping share cultural understanding. 

Last month, Salmon n’ Bannock Bistro officially opened their second location at Vancouver International Airport aptly called Salmon n’ Bannock On The Fly. The opening date was significant as it also marked the Bistro’s 13th anniversary of the opening of their first location on Broadway in Vancouver. And it’s the only Indigenous restaurant in an international airport in North America! 

Now that they’ve expanded the business with a restaurant at Vancouver’s International Airport, Salmon n’ Bannock is poised to serve a larger customer base, sharing in Indigenous cultural cuisine. For anyone heading to the airport soon, you can find Salmon n’ Bannock On the Fly just past Security, at International Departures. 

Inez’s hard work and resilience shines through in her entrepreneurship. Her vision to incorporate Indigenous culture and tradition within her business is a game changer in Vancouver’s hospitality industry and serves as a model for others to follow. Congratulations Salmon n’ Bannock! 

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

BC Achievement board member, Aisha Amijee, on embracing equity 

Photo: Aisha Amijee, 2020 Community Award recipient & BC Achievement board member

Aisha Amijee is a proud British Columbian, mother of three, a recipient of the Community Award, a leader and educator. Born and raised in Surrey, BC, she fills her heart up with countless community initiatives in her community of Surrey as well the Muslim, South Asian, Fijian, Arts and Soccer communities she belongs to. She is the founder of a women’s leadership registered charity, Voices of Muslim Women Foundation, and the founder of Freed Education. She teaches Policy Studies and Interdisciplinary Expressive Arts at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. Currently, she is working on a podcast and book about leadership. If that’s not keeping busy enough, Aisha has joined BC Achievement as one of our newest board members. 

On the occasion of International Women’s Day on March 8, Aisha reflects on what this day means to her in her many roles and through the lens of the IWD 2023 theme #EmbraceEquity.  

What does equity mean to you? 

To me, equity means justice. Too often we think of equality like fractions; when in fact because we are not born into equal life circumstances and privileges; equal parts do not always equal justice. I always tell my three kids, who are different ages and genders that I will always have to parent you each a little differently, but the goal is to be fair and just; which means equity. Just because I treat you or give you different items or amounts, doesn’t mean I’m not fair; I’m doing what I think will give you the most just outcome. In my class, I used to share this cartoon of a taller child and a shorter child, both trying to look over the fence to see a baseball game. The taller child can see over the fence but the younger child can’t. An adult gives the shorter child a box to stand on and then both children are able to see and enjoy the game. That is equity. 

How do you incorporate equity into your work / volunteer / life? 

I spend a lot of my time volunteering and mentoring other women or being mentored myself. There are times where I give more time, money and energy to a project because I know I have more resources or influence in a certain area or at an event; however, there are times where I am offered a discount to attend an event that would otherwise be out of reach for me because of my positionality. On top of founding my non-profit, Voices of Muslim Women, I also donate two modest scholarships now: one in memory of my maternal grandmother and one in memory of my husband’s maternal grandmother. We both have done well for ourselves in terms of education and career success and we believe it’s important to give back. On the other hand, I have been the recipient of the Marie B Scholarship for example. It helped me tremendously to learn how to turn Voices of Muslim Women into a “business” where we had enough profit to operate and create more jobs for girls and women in our community.  

What will you be doing for IWD this year? 

This year, I will be attending the Nisa Homes Tea in Wonderland High Tea; it features an amazing panel of women who are leading the way in British Columbia in the Muslim community. Nisa Homes is a Muslim Women’s Shelter that has been serving women in Vancouver for years now. I will also be tuning into the virtual live event: International Women’s Day Conversation with Sharon White, Julia Gillard and Kelly Beaver hosted by the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership. 

For more on Aisha Amijee, read about her here.  

To see how you can get involved in IWD 2023, check out this resource. #EmbraceEquity 

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

TELUS and BC Achievement: Partners on the reconciliation journey 

Photo: 2022 Indigenous Business Award Gala, TELUS attendees

TELUS is one of BC Achievement’s newest program sponsors and it’s not a stretch to see how values align when it comes to supporting Indigenous success in BC. 

Recently, TELUS published its 2022 Indigenous Reconciliation and Connectivity Report that shares updates on their public Indigenous Reconciliation Action Plan, and  highlights stories of inspiration on how connectivity and modern technology enable transformative outcomes for Indigenous businesses and communities. 

In 2021 TELUS became the first Canadian technology company to publish an Indigenous Reconciliation Action Plan (IRAP), formalizing their team’s commitment to reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. “Guided by Indigenous-led frameworks of reconciliation, Indigenous Ways of Knowing and voices – including a new advisory council – the plan is based on four pillars where we believe we can drive meaningful change. By deepening our understanding of the intersections between reconciliation and our business, we are supporting the success of Indigenous Peoples in the ways they want to be supported by TELUS.” TELUS President and CEO Darren Entwistle and Executive Vice President and COO Tony Geheran. 

TELUS’ four guiding pillars drive the organization’s commitment to reconciliation as envisioned through connectivity, enabling social outcomes, cultural responsiveness and economic reconciliation. Helping create stronger, healthier communities for long-term success is a mutual goal that TELUS and BC Achievement share. By identifying exceptional Indigenous practices whether through entrepreneurship, community service or artistic practices, BC Achievement’s programs endeavour to showcase and elevate the best of BC. And in doing so, inspire others to strive for and achieve success in their fields which, in turn, helps build and strengthen communities. 

Thanks to the support of  @TELUS and its Optik TV Indigenous Voices Channel 126, BC Achievement was able to broadcast all three of our 2022 Indigenous program presentation ceremonies, including the First Nations Art Award ceremony, the Indigenous Business Award Gala and the BC Reconciliation Award ceremony to audiences across BC. In addition, through TELUS’ partner  @Vidflex, we were able to live-stream these ceremonies and directly connect with recipients’ families and communities. We are grateful to TELUS for its engagement with the foundation’s Indigenous programming and look forward to a continued relationship aligning our collective values on the reconciliation journey. Thank you for joining with us to elevate excellence, share success and inspire change.

“Bridging the gap between the two worlds through the reconciliation efforts of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples builds the relationships needed for the journey. By recognizing the truths of past wrongs and showcasing examples of how to make things right, others will be inspired to follow.” BC Achievement Foundation board member, Cloy-e-iis, Dr. Judith Sayers 

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