Announcing your Directors of Ceremony for the 15th annual Indigenous Business Award Gala: Geena Jackson and Chief David Jimmie!  

Photo: Chief David Jimmie & Geena Jackson, 2023 IBA Co-Director of Ceremonies

For a second year, Geena Jackson will be serving as Director of Ceremonies (DC) having enchanted Gala-goers last year with her effervescent hosting and empowerment of Indigenous enterpreneurship. Joining Geena on stage will be Chief David Jimmie, the 2022 Indigenous Business Award of Distinction recipient. 

Geena Jackson  

Geena Jackson  is a proud member of the shíshálh Nation (Sechelt) and a passionate advocate for Indigenous Rights and self-determination. With a degree in Broadcast Journalism and Communications, Geena works tirelessly on her vision to support First Nation individuals ready to take a chance on Entrepreneurship and access life changing opportunities. Amongst her many roles, Geena is the creator and executive producer of Bears’ Lair, a reality show that follows the journeys of Indigenous entrepreneurs as they pitch their plans to ‘The Bears’ – a panel of Indigenous business moguls – in hopes of winning a cash prize. 

Chief David Jimmie  

Squiala Chief David Jimmie of Chilliwack was honoured with the Indigenous Business Award of Distinction designation last year, for his extraordinary contributions to Indigenous businesses and entrepreneurs. In addition to serving as Chief and CEO of Squiala First Nation, David is President of the Stó:lō Nation Chiefs Council, President of Ts’elxweyéqw Tribe Management Limited, chair of Western Indigenous Pipeline Group, president of the Eagle Landing Limited Partnership, and owner of DJimmie Construction. A collaborative leader, Chief David Jimmie lends his expertise to establish growth opportunities while serving his community and the organizations which sustain it.  

These changemakers lead by example, and they will be leading us all in celebration as co-Directors of Ceremonies for the 15th annual Indigenous Business Award Gala. Taking place at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver at 5:30 PM on November 1st, this dinner and award ceremony promise a night of illumination and inspiration. 

With a theme of Building Community, this year’s IBA Gala dinner will honour seven exceptional Indigenous businesses which have exemplified innovation, tenacity, and excellence in their respective fields. In addition, the 2023 Award of Distinction designate will be celebrated! Recipients are set to be announced next month at and shared across all of our social media channels. 

Don’t miss your chance to be part of this unforgettable evening by securing your tickets at Let’s come together and celebrate Indigenous business excellence. #shinethelightbc. 

The IBA program is presented by the BC Achievement Foundation in partnership with the Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation. It is generously supported by: ​​  

Enbridge, Vancity, Teck Resources Limited, TD Bank Group, Ovintiv Canada, New Relationship Trust, BC Hydro, BC Transit, Seaspan, West Fraser, CN, Simpcw Resources Group, Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, Fortis BC, KPMG, Pacific Blue Cross 

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

The value of art and culture to Canadian life isn’t just economic – so let’s stop treating them that way 

Photo Credit: Yukiko Onley

By Max Wyman, Guest writer and BC Achievement Board Member 2007-2016 

Max Wyman is a Vancouver-based writer and cultural commentator. His seventh book,The Compassionate Imagination: How the Arts Are Central to a Functioning Democracy, will be published this week. 

The days when city councillors objected to using public money to support “a bunch of galloping galoots,” as once happened when a grant application from the Royal Winnipeg Ballet came before the Winnipeg municipal council, are long behind us. But our continued lukewarm support of Canada’s cultural sector shows a widespread underestimation of the power of the arts to transform both individuals and communities for the better. 

In the prosperous and educated world of rationality and accountability that the Enlightenment bequeathed us, and which our governments claim to perpetuate, the artist is an outsider: the supplicant conjuror with his begging bowl. 

Our political masters mouth all the platitudes. They make sure the cultural sector gets resources sufficient for basic survival. During the pandemic, they even coughed up a little extra to help those in the arts sector counter the crippling effects of the economic shutdown. 

But none of them have grasped the central nettle, which is the need to see the arts and culture not as a frill, nor an outlier, nor a tool – but as a central and necessary element of our nationhood. 

It is time for a new cultural contract between the government of Canada and the people it serves – a policy that affirms art and culture as the humanizing core of our civil society. 

Getting governments to understand why they should support art and culture has always been a challenge. Typically, if you can’t value the outcome in dollars, it doesn’t count. And it’s hard to show the value of art and culture on a cost-benefit graph. Even when they do come up with more cash, it’s usually for economic reasons. Just recently, for instance, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced a new investment of £50 billion ($84 billion) to “grow the creative industries,” in the name of adding a million extra jobs in the country’s cultural sector by 2030. 

Professional arts groups thus become forced to try to prove their value in economic terms, and so they have become adept at showing how investment in culture pays rich dividends in spinoff effects. A thriving creative community attracts innovators to a city or region, they argue, and cultural activities create work for a broad range of other workers. 

Many studies also show how engagement with art reduces demands on the health care system and is an effective tool in dealing with mental health. The Publishers Association in Britain has found that reading is more popular than going to the movies or browsing social media, with one in three people saying books offer them the best form of escapism when they’re having a bad day. 

A recent U.S. study  even managed to put a figure on the personal benefits of going to an art gallery. The Oregon-based Institute for Learning Innovation asked just under 2,000 visitors to 11 U.S. art museums to assess the way their museum experiences improved their well-being in four categories – personal, intellectual, social and physical – and to put a price on those benefits on a sliding scale from US$0 to US$1,000. They came up with an average cash value, per individual visit, of US$905. When the study’s authors extrapolated this information on a national scale, they calculated an annual economic value of US$52 billion in public well-being for museum visitors. 

I know, I know: small sample, based on entirely personal valuations. But in an interview with The Art Newspaper, Will Cary, the chief operating officer of the Barnes Foundation (which took part in the study), said the research gives funders and policy makers “a compelling, quantitative argument that thriving, well-supported cultural institutions are not ‘nice-to-haves,’ they are ‘need-to-haves’ and that the return on their investment is significant and multifaceted.” 

But what if we didn’t have to focus on the economic imperatives? 

Of course, new money for culture will always be welcome. But our leaders need to be able to see culture in more than these quantitative, economic terms; they need to see it as a central, vital public good and – as I argue in my new book – as a unique means for us to reawaken our sense of decency and empathy toward one another in our increasingly splintered society. 

What kind of Canada might we make if we were to embed art’s unique and deeply human properties of imaginative exploration and emotional and spiritual enrichment in the heart of public policy making? What if we liberated the power of the collaborative imagination by giving the visionary ferment of Canada’s diverse creative community a place at the decision-making table as we seek solutions to the stark challenges of our time? 

What if we returned the arts to a central position in our education systems, affirming the role of the arts and humanities alongside the sciences in educating the whole person, and thus shifting the emphasis to STEAM rather than only STEM? 

What if we were to put a little spine into our pious words about reconciliation and ensure that Indigenous ways of knowing and creating are integrated into our decision-making and funding processes? 

What if we were to design a far more equitable spreading of the cultural wealth, in the form of expanded granting programs and new ways to empower all Canadians to enjoy the richness of our cultural expression? 

It is time to jettison outdated ideas about exclusiveness or connoisseurship. Art belongs to everyone, and it is neither a frill nor an indulgence: It is an integral part of our shared humanity, and a way we find meaning and connection and understanding in an increasingly chaotic and morally compromised world. 

This piece was originally published in the Globe and Mail, July 1, 2023. 

The Compassionate Imagination: How the arts are central to a functioning democracy, Cormorant Books, Toronto, $19.95. ISBN 978-1-77086-699-7. Available to order online and wherever good books are sold. Here’s a guide to its availability at independent retailers near you: Shop Local ( 

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

Celebrating Indigenous entrepreneurship: Get your IBA Gala tickets starting August 15! 

Join us at the Indigenous Business Award (IBA) Gala Dinner where the 2023 IBA recipients will be honoured and celebrated! The IBA Gala Dinner and award presentation will take place at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver on Wednesday, November 1, 2023, at 5:30 pm.

In an annual event that is synonymous with business excellence for Indigenous entrepreneurs, the 2023 IBA Gala Dinner promises to be a night of celebration, recognition, and inspiration. While showcasing the immense potential and talent inherent within the growing Indigenous economy, the celebration acknowledges the achievements of the awardees while fostering a sense of solidarity among all attendees, encouraging networking, collaboration, and the sharing of ideas. 

This Gala Dinner will honour seven exceptional Indigenous businesses which have exemplified innovation, tenacity, and excellence in their respective fields. In addition, the 2023 Award of Distinction designate will be celebrated! Recipients are set to be announced next month in the digital #shinethelightbc campaign highlighting the stories of these successful business leaders. 

Photo: 2022 IBA award recipients

Tickets for the event will be available to the public starting August 15, and attendees are advised to act swiftly, as this event sells out quickly each year. Along with celebrating the awardees, the Gala Dinner provides a unique opportunity for individuals and corporations to show their support for Indigenous entrepreneurship and invest in the future of these visionary leaders while inspiring the entrepreneurs of tomorrow to pursue their dreams. 

The 2023 Indigenous Business Award Gala Dinner is not just an event; it is a movement that celebrates Indigenous innovation and empowers the next generation to reach for the stars. By showcasing the triumphs of these exceptional awardees, the IBA Gala Dinner, and the IBA program at large, demonstrates that with determination, passion, and community support, the Indigenous business landscape will continue to thrive and shape a brighter future for all. 

Join us in raising a toast to the visionaries, trailblazers, and change-makers who embody the spirit of Indigenous entrepreneurship. Celebrate their success, embrace their stories, and become a part of this remarkable journey towards a more inclusive and prosperous tomorrow.  

Don’t miss your chance to be part of this unforgettable evening by securing your tickets starting August 15 at Let’s come together and celebrate Indigenous business excellence. 

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

First Nations Art Award recipient profile – Latham Mack, Nuxalk carver 

Photo: Latham Mack, 2022 First Nations Art Award recipient

As a 2022 First Nations Art Award recipient, Latham Mack’s artistic journey is documented in a short film produced by BC Achievement. With an intent to preserve and share Latham’s Nuxalk culture while serving as inspiration for other emerging artists and students, the film tells a beautiful story. 

Leading the film’s narrative, Latham re-tells the tale of four brothers and how thunder came to be. “They went hunting mountain goats [when] it got dark on them on the ledge of a cliff, so they set up camp. During the night they woke to the sound of thunder. When they looked up to the sky [they saw] the thunder and in its hands, it held a crystal ball and every time the thunder shook the crystal ball lightning would flash. The youngest brother cut a hole in his blanket, and he watched the thunder dance on the mountain top. He returned to our community, shared the story with one of the carpenters, and they carved a mask. And that is how the Thunder came [to be].” 

Storytelling and tradition are an integral part of Latham’s upbringing, and their influence is evident in his carvings. Equally as influential was growing up in Bella Coola surrounded by artistic family members and attending Acwsalcta School, which exposed him to culture and art at a very young age.  

Latham learned carving from his late grandfather, hereditary chief Lawrence Mack. 

“My grandfather was carving masks for his up-and-coming potlatch and I’d go down after school every day and I’d watch him carve and see him removing this wood and see this figure coming to life. Then one day he finally said, ‘you come here every day you might as well start carving’ so he gave me a block of wood and I carved my first mask at the age of 13.”  

Latham’s dedication and commitment to his art training continued through his studies at the Freda Diesing School of Northwest Coast Art followed by an apprenticeship under Bob Dempsey. “He took me under his wing and started teaching me. He’s like a father figure to me.”  

And now, with years of carving experience to back him, up Latham is keen to keep the tradition alive. “Our ancestors never carved our masks to hang on the wall. Keeping the tradition alive I got my own kids now that I’m looking forward to passing down that knowledge for them to carry forward.” 

Watch the short films on each of the First Nations Art recipients on our YouTube channel and prepare to be inspired. 

The recipients of the 2023 Polygon Award in First Nations Art will be announced in October at and shared across all of our social media channels.

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

Louise Perrone, Jeweller: “using unconventional materials in an interesting way”

Photo: Louise Perrone, 2022 Applied Art + Design Award recipient

Louise Perrone designs jewellery that lives beyond adornment and speaks to innovation, re-purposing, and thoughtfulness. Recipient of the 2022 Applied Art + Design Award (AAD), this jeweller never planned to pursue this path. Despite that, she has left a significant mark in the world of fashion, design, and applied art, more than two decades after immigrating to Canada from her native UK. 

BC Achievement, in preparation for the 2022 AAD awardees’ recognition, interviewed Louise for a short film highlighting her creative process, inspiration and vision for the future of her art. “I’m really interested in making things with my hands and using unconventional materials in an interesting way. One of the things about my work that I found is when I’m wearing it around other jewellers, from a distance they’re like ‘what is that made of’ and they want to come close and can’t figure out whether it’s metal or what it is.” 

Louise’s textile jewellery explores issues of gender, labour, and sustainability by combining goldsmithing traditions with hand-sewing. Using materials derived from domestic and industrial textile and plastic waste, Louise’s work involves altering plastic objects and enveloping them in fabric, inviting a consideration of what jewellery can conceal and reveal about the maker, the wearer, and ourselves. 

“I was making things from found objects like gloves that I picked up in the street, fabric, textiles all kinds of different materials. I was interested and I still am interested in how jewellery is a way of communicating ideas or meaning without having to.”

Her work is a representation of her sense of social responsibility to the world around her. “I’m not interested in making things that already exist or adding to the enormous pile of waste that is already there I’d rather take from that pile of waste and reduce it a little bit and actually draw attention to that pile of waste.” 

Louise’s pieces have been shown in numerous local, national, and international exhibitions, including solo and two-person shows at the Craft Council of BC, and group exhibitions featured in New York City Jewelry Week, JOYA Barcelona, and Athens Jewellery Week. 

This designer is passionate about teaching her skills to others and works as an instructor in the jewellery programs at LaSalle College Vancouver and Vancouver Community College.  

She’s also motivated to create opportunities for artists to thrive and has given back to her community by serving in leadership positions with various artist and craft organizations. “For me my practice is not about selling product, but it is about contributing to ideas about what jewellery can be; about adornment about the value of materials and the value of labour of peoples’ work which is so undervalued.” 

Louise’s plans for the future of her art practice involve going back to her roots. “The way I put things together is very informed by my previous life as a jeweller and metalsmith so now I’m going back in the opposite direction and I’m going to be using those textile techniques in metal, so I’m really excited about that.” 

Watch the short film on the 2022 Applied Art + Design Award recipients on our YouTube channel and prepare to be inspired. 

The recipients of the 2023 Applied Art + Design Award will be announced in October at and shared across all of our social media channels. 

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