IBA Program Director, Angela Marston, on driving change

Photo: Satuts Stsuhwum Angela Marston, IBA program director

With the 2024 Indigenous Business Award (IBA) program nominations closing on May 31– we took a few minutes to chat with its director, Satuts Stsuhwum (North wind strong and clear) Angela Marston. Here’s our Q&A:

What excites you the most about your job now that you’re almost 24 months into it?

What truly excites me is witnessing the incredible work being done across First Nations and Indigenous communities. Our province-wide reach allows us to hear and share stories of the positive impact individuals and communities are making through their business endeavours. Too often, the focus is on negative depictions of Indigenous peoples. This program helps reframe the narrative by highlighting these individuals in a positive light, showcasing their successes and contributions.

It’s particularly inspiring for me and my colleagues @bcachievement to see so many First Nations and Indigenous women thriving as business owners and leaders. This is encouraging not just for my daughters, nieces, and future grandchildren, but for all young Indigenous women. Having these strong role models is vital for envisioning and driving change.

Do you see evidence of the IBA program driving change from your experience to date?

Absolutely! One standout example is 2023 IBA recipient Marcia Turner, whose business transformation post-recognition has been phenomenal. Here is a quote from Marcia, “Receiving the IBA award transformed my thinking about how I do my work and has planted the seed that I have what it takes to grow my business. Importantly, the IBA has given me exposure and it put me on the radar to be noticed – it’s raised my profile, and I have so much deep gratitude for this. But being noticed is only part of being a successful business. The IBA Gala opened my eyes to a whole world of opportunities, it was inspirational to see all the other recipients, hear their stories, witness our celebration and network with like-minded people in the entrepreneurial business world.” Additionally, I’m frequently asked to connect awardees with opportunities. BC Achievement’s extensive, province-wide network helps us expand our reach and impact, continually fostering connections and facilitating growth. We serve as a resource for others to access our incredible alumni community throughout the provincial.

Can you speak to the difference your role is making, given that you are leading the program as its first Indigenous director, and as an artist and entrepreneur?

Having an Indigenous person lead an Indigenous program fundamentally changes its execution. Rooting the program in Indigenous values requires cultural understanding that goes beyond surface-level appreciation. For instance, understanding the protocols of a blanketing ceremony is crucial, especially when you’re on another’s territory. Many people I interact with express how significant it is to see an Indigenous woman in this leadership role. It’s empowering for my nieces and for all young Indigenous girls to see role models in such positions.

BC Achievement has a forward-thinking model for reconciliation and has ensured for the past two decades of its existence that it delivers with strong Indigenous leadership on its foundation board and IBA advisory panel. This ensures our program is deeply connected to and guided by Indigenous values and perspectives.

What challenges are you excited about tackling in the year ahead?

I’m looking forward to providing more support to nominators, diversifying our sponsorship base (especially with tech companies), and building out our alumni program, despite the struggle to secure funding. These challenges are opportunities to strengthen and expand our program’s impact.

What would you like to say to potential nominators and nominees out there? Why should they nominate?

Uplifting Indigenous business owners as role models is crucial for the success of Indigenous communities everywhere. We need these positive stories and role models to inspire and drive change. The nomination process can be cathartic for business owners as it allows them to take five and take stock of their business – where they are and how they want to take their enterprise to the next level.

What program phase do you enjoy the most?

It’s hard to choose just one! The Gala, which is part of the recognition phase, is an incredibly inspiring event, and reading through the nominations is always uplifting. While the Gala involves a lot of hard work, it’s deeply rewarding to celebrate the recipients and, to see the room filled with Indigenous entrepreneurs and those honouring them is life-changing. As Geena Jackson says, “It is truly the ‘Oscars’ of Indigenous Business in BC!” I also enjoy the strategic and creative aspects of developing partnerships and planning the program throughout the year.  Seeing the program strengthen through our strategic alliances and partnerships is empowering for me and those with whom I work.

Future aspirations?

Collaborating with an Indigenous curriculum content developer would be amazing. The short films we produce on each awardee are truly magnificent and are a huge resource  that could serve as a great guide for teachers, enriching the educational experience with Indigenous perspectives.

With the IBA Call for Nominations’ deadline looming large…

Don’t miss the opportunity to highlight and celebrate the outstanding achievements within our communities. Nominate someone today and be part of this positive movement! And remember that I am here to help in anyway, don’t hesitate to reach out indigenousbusiness@bcachievement.com and #nominatenowbc!

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