2023 Young Entrepreneur of the Year, The Ballantyne Project


 The Indigenous Business Award (IBA) program honours excellence and focuses on the successes of Indigenous businesses and entrepreneurs. The program offers awardees and their supporters an authentic space to showcase their achievements and build bridges between BC’s Indigenous and non-Indigenous economies.


 The IBA program serves: to identify and recognize successful Indigenous businesses; to honour and celebrate Indigenous business achievements; and to support and sustain Indigenous entrepreneurship.


  • May 1 – Nominations OPEN
  • May 31 – Nominations CLOSE
  • September 12 - Awardees ANNOUNCED
  • November 1 - Gala Dinner & Presentation Ceremony (@ Fairmont Hotel Vancouver)

Nominations must be submitted online by MAY 31, 2023 (all materials must be received by 11:59 pm).


Individuals and businesses may enter in ONE category only.

Young Entrepreneur of the Year: this award recognizes success by a young entrepreneur in the operation of an existing business. Nominees must be aged 35 years and under by May 31, 2023, have been in business for at least two years, and the business must be at least 51% Indigenous-owned and operated (First Nations, Métis or Inuit).

Business of the Year (*the business must be at least 51% Indigenous-owned and operated): these awards recognize the outstanding achievements of Indigenous entrepreneurs in three sub-categories:

  • Businesses with 1-2 employees
  • Businesses with 3-10 employees
  • Businesses with 11+ employees

Community-Owned Business of the Year (*businesses must be 100% owned by the community): this award acknowledges one or more businesses owned by a community with the intention of building a strong economic foundation for community members. There are two sub-categories for this award:

  • Community-Owned one entity
  • Community-Owned two more entities

Business Partnership of the Year (*Indigenous ownership must be at least 50%): this award recognizes a business partnership created by two or more parties.

Award of Distinction: the Award of Distinction for lifetime achievement is presented to a person who, over his or her career, has made a significant difference in the Indigenous business community through his or her entrepreneurial endeavours and, in doing so, serves as a leader, role model, mentor and inspiration. The individual may be an innovator in his or her business activities, a successful entrepreneur, or an individual who has been instrumental in supporting or creating Indigenous business activities in the province.


An eligible nominee must be a business that:

  • Is at least 51% Indigenous owned and operated (First Nations, Métis or Inuit)
  • Is based in British Columbia
  • Has been in operation for a minimum of two years

A business may self-nominate (i.e., apply for the Award program).

The following are ineligible to receive the Award:

  • Government agencies and institutions
  • Those operated or owned by BC Achievement board members
  • Those operated or owned by jury panel members
  • Posthumous nominations are not eligible

Past awardees must wait five years before reapplying unless the nature of the business has significantly changed.


Any person, group or organization may submit nominations for the Award with exceptions noted below:

  • Current members of the jury panel, or members of the jury panel’s immediate family may not submit a nomination
  • BC Achievement board members may not submit a nomination


An independent jury panel representing Indigenous business expertise throughout BC evaluates nominations based on the documentation provided. They jury selects one recipient in each category. The decision of the jury is final. Nominees are notified only if selected for an award. Nominators are informed as to whether or not they have been successful with their application.

Selection of Awardees is based on the nomination material submitted.


IBA recipients are awarded $2500 each and receive a Recognition film produced by BC Achievement. In addition, they receive a medallion and lapel pin designed by renowned artist Robert Davidson, OC, OBC, along with a commemorative plaque certificate and letter from the Premier recognizing their achievements.

Awardees are granted the use of the Indigenous Business Award seal to signify their entrepreneurial excellence.

A gala dinner will be held to celebrate the achievements of the awardees on November 1, 2023 in Vancouver.

Rescission of an Awardee's Recognition

Advisory Panel

  • Brenda Baptiste, OBC – Chair, Indigenous Tourism BC
  • Jacob Beaton – Founder, Tea Creek Enterprises, 2009 Awardee
  • Louis De Jaeger, MBA – Minister of  Economic Dev. & Natural Resources, Métis Nation BC, 2011 Awardee
  • Paulette Flamond – Executive Director, Northeast Aboriginal Business Centre, 2019 Award of Distinction
  • Denise Halfyard – Aboriginal Buzz, 2011 Awardee
  • Peter Lantin – Consultant
  • Ken Tourand, BBA, MA – President & CEO, Nicola Valley Institute of Technology
  • Jeff Ward – CEO Animikii Indigenous Technology, 2010 & 2019 Awardee
  • Laara Yaghujaanas, MA – Consultant, Carden Consulting

Supporting Organizations


Download the 2023 Nomination Guide for additional information and tips on submitting a compelling nomination.

The nominator must complete the online Nomination form and include the following:

  • Nominator name & contact information
  • Nominee name & contact information
  • Nominee website & social media handles
  • Indigenous Affiliation
  • Indigenous Community
  • Nominator Statement
  • Community Impact Statement
  • Ownership Structure Statement
  • Number of full- &/or part-time permanent employees (Indigenous and non-Indigenous)
  • For Indigenous-Industry Partnerships ONLY, outline fully the role of the Indigenous partner
  • Support Letter (written by someone other than the nominator)
  • Additional Materials (optional, but strongly recommended) - up to a max. of five documents / links; each link submitted is considered one additional material

Note: It is recommended the nominator write out their Nominator Statement, Community Impact and Ownership Structure statements in a word document first before adding the content to the online nomination form.


  • Nominations are valid for three years including the first year of nomination and two subsequent years
  • Nominators are strongly encouraged to update their nomination for consideration by the following year's selection committee if their nominee was not recognized in the previous year’s Awardee cohort
  • To update your nomination, please select "yes" to the question “Is this an update to a previous nomination?” + the year the nomination was first submitted and complete the online nomination form


1. What is the definition of a business?
A business is defined as an occupation or trade and the purchase and sale of products or services to make a profit. In a business, people work to make and sell products or services; other people buy the products and services.

2. What is the definition of a business partnership?
A business partnership is an entity formed between two or more businesses to undertake economic activity together. The businesses agree to create a new entity by contributing equity, and they then share in the revenues, expenses and control of the enterprise.

3. Does a certain percentage of a business have to be Indigenous-owned?
Yes, community-owned businesses must be 100% owned by the community. Other businesses must be at least 51% Indigenous-owned and operated. Business partnerships in which the second partner is non-Indigenous must be at least 50% Indigenous-owned.

4. If I am 35 years old, can I enter the Youth Entrepreneur of the Year Award category?
Nominees must be 35 years of age or under by the nomination deadline. However, youth are free to apply to any other business category as long as the business has been operational for a minimum of two years.

5. Can information be saved on the nomination form and completed at a later date?
Yes, it can. If you don't have all the information on hand, click on 'Save and Continue Later' - you will be prompted to enter your email and will receive a link that you can access to complete your nomination prior to the deadline.

6. Should occasional, part-time and full-time employees be counted separately?
Please identify full or part-time permanent staff only. If there are instances that the business increases the number of employees for short periods of time this can be included in the description of your business activities but should not be included in total employee numbers.

7. If a business is 100% owned by the community, can it be nominated under the Business of the Year Category?
No, it cannot. A wholly owned community enterprise must be nominated under the Community-Owned Business Category.

8. Is a nomination considered for more than one year?
Yes. Submitted nomination begin a three-year program, during which time the information can be reviewed by up to three juries. Nominators are given the opportunity to update their nomination each year prior to review by the independent jury panel.

9. Does the business have to be registered?
No, but the business must provide goods and/or services to consumers.

10. When are awardees notified and where are the names published?
Awardees are notified in September. Their names are published on BC Achievement’s website and social media.


The Award of Distinction for lifetime achievement (formerly the Individual Achievement  Award) is presented to a person who, over his or her career, has made a significant difference in the Indigenous business community through his or her entrepreneurial endeavours and, in doing so, serves as a leader, role model, mentor and inspiration. The individual may be an innovator in his or her business activities, a successful entrepreneur, or an individual who has been instrumental in supporting or creating Indigenous business activities in the province.

Past recipients are: 

  • 2022 Chief David Jimmie
  • 2021 Ken Cameron
  • 2020 Carol Anne Hilton 
  • 2019 Paulette Flamond 
  • 2018 Chief Gordon Planes 
  • 2017 Chief Gibby Jacob 
  • 2016 Robert Louie
  • 2015 James Walkus 
  • 2014 Councillor Garry Feschuk 
  • 2013 Chief Commissioner Sophie Pierre and Ruth Williams 
  • 2012 Chief Councillor Garry Reece
  • 2011 Chief Clarence Louie 
  • 2010 Dolly (Watts) McRae and John Harper  
  • 2009 Dorothy Grant and Angelique Merasty Levac  
Nominations Open:
May 1
Nominations Close:
May 31

Awardees Announced:
September 12



The Ballantyne Project

Young Entrepreneur of the Year


Daxgedim Haanak’ Nation Building

Business of the Year one to two person enterprise


Totem Design House

Business of the Year three to 10 person enterprise


Jelly Academy

Business of the Year 11+ person enterprise


Sugar Cane Archaeology

Community-Owned Business of the Year one entity


Tiicma Enterprises

Community-Owned Business of the Year two or more entities


Teara Fraser

Award of Distinction

Find out how you can support this program and learn more about awardees in your community. Register now to receive our monthly e-newsletter.

Honouring excellence and inspiring achievement in Indigenous business and entrepreneurship throughout the province

BC Achievement is honoured  to announce the recipients of its 15th annual Indigenous Business Award (IBA) program. The award recognizes the outstanding accomplishments of Indigenous businesses, entrepreneurs, partnership entities and community-owned enterprises. 

Click here for press release. The 2023 IBA recipients will be recognized during a formal gala ceremony at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver on Wednesday, November 1, 2023. The event is open to the public, and tickets can be purchased for $250 per person online here

Thank you to everyone who nominated or self-nominated and brought attention to the remarkable Indigenous entrepreneurs and businesses in our province. 

We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation.

Sponsorship: For information about 2023 IBA sponsorship opportunities click here.

Congratulations to the recipients of the 2023 Indigenous Business Award for exceptional entrepreneurship, outstanding contributions to the BC economy, and dedication to uplifting Indigenous communities through innovative endeavours. Your success serves as an inspiring example of the key role Indigenous businesses play within local communities, throughout the province, and beyond.

Thank you to our Indigenous Business Award Supporters

Supporting Organizations

Program Partner

Bursary Sponsor

Presentation Partner

Program Alumni Sponsor

Awardee Sponsor

Elders & Dancers Sponsor

Film Sponsors

Supporting Sponsor

Media Sponsors

Community Partners

Strategic Partnership

Wine Sponsor