Danika Naccarella: Crabtree-McLennan Emerging Artist Awardee

Receiving the honour in 2017, Danika Naccarella was the inaugural recipient of the Crabtree McLennan Emerging Artist Award in the Fulmer Award in First Nations Art program. The Award is presented to an emerging artist in honour of Emily Carr University Director, Aboriginal Programs, Brenda Crabtree and the late Bill McLennan, UBC Museum of Anthropology’s Curator Emeritus. Danika was recognized for artistic excellence in melding of classic northern Northwest Coast design with Nuxalk style, in particular for her work in traditional hand-poke tattooing and skin-stitch techniques. 

We recently reached out to Danika to see what she’s up to now. Not one to stand still, this talented First Nations artist continues to work hard and extend her artistic ability with new art forms. 

Following her studies at the Freda Diesing School of Northwest Coast Art, Danika now assists  with art instruction to Kindergarten to Grade 12 Nuxalk Nation youth at Acwsalcta School in Bella Coola from where she also graduated.  

When she’s not teaching, Danika is hard at work creating art in various forms including acrylic painting, digital art, jewellery, hand poke tattooing, regalia making, and carving – sometimes. Born and raised in Bella Coola, Danika and her fiancé recently purchased their first home off reserve in Hagensborg, BC where they work and live out of their cabin that serves as a studio space for Danika’s tattooing and a small carving shop for her fiancé. 

When asked what inspires her artistry, Danika reflects on her peoples’ history, “My ancestors and those who came before me have inspired me to dedicate myself to the art form. Studying the old masterpieces has set a high standard for my own practice, the pieces we see in the museum collections really are masterpieces as the ones who created those pieces had the privilege of refining their skills that were passed down for many generations. My generation has to relearn everything that was taken away from us – we are reviving what was almost wiped out.” 

Danika is hoping that her art work will inspire other young Northwest Coast artists to continue this art form and bring it even farther than where it is now, while staying true to the traditional form and learning the foundations that define the art form. “There are so many mediums of art that I want to be able to pass on to the generations after me. Not only is passing on knowledge important, it is also important to bring light to our small community, to let others know we are still here and thriving.” 

During these challenging times as COVID-19 continues to  impact our lives, Danika shares that her personal art practice did suffer a major setback. “During the beginning of the pandemic I was unable to practice hand poke tattooing – which is a major part of my practice as an artist. Commissions and larger pieces weren’t feasible to clients either due to costs – so I migrated my energy to small affordable handmade earrings. Now that our world is a lot different, many people are choosing to support locals, which is a beautiful thing. I always give back and support other artists and businesses as that helps our local economies and families.” 

Since receiving the Crabtree McLennan award in 2017, Danika is excited to share that that her practice has flourished. “I am so honoured to be awarded this title, as a young female artist in a male dominated market, it has solidified my confidence in my art practice. Being the inaugural recipient of this title was unbelievable. To have both Bill McLennan & Brenda Crabtree there was such an honour.” 

If you’re interested in Danika Naccarella’s art practice, you can reach her at her Facebook and Instagram pages and be sure to watch the film made to honour this young artist at bcachievement.com

Indigenous Tourism BC – accelerating the Indigenous economy

One of the organizations that is powering BC’s growing Indigenous economy and cultivating innovation is Indigenous Tourism BC. As a non-profit, Stakeholder-based organization, Indigenous Tourism BC is committed to growing and promoting a sustainable, culturally rich Indigenous tourism industry. Through training, information resources, networking opportunities and marketing programs, Indigenous Tourism BC is an important resource for Indigenous entrepreneurs and communities in British Columbia who are operating or looking to start a tourism business. 

As of last fall, it boasted over 200 Indigenous tourism businesses and a growth of 85% over the past 20 years. At that point it was “one of the fastest growing industries in BC, with Indigenous tourism businesses contributing $705 million each year to the provincial economy” according to Brenda Baptiste, Chair of Indigenous Tourism BC. “We are so proud of our communities and stakeholders who have dedicated their time to bringing Indigenous cultural experiences to life for visitors” she shared. 

Due to COVID-19, Indigenous tourism has felt the impact of reduced travel and many Indigenous businesses are deciding how and when to re-open to visitors. With responsible tourism now the expectation, Indigenous tourism is once again poised to reinvent itself, grow, and support BC’s economy by creating more jobs for Indigenous people and other BC residents through their activities. 

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

How youth apprenticeship in trades supports the Indigenous economy

By 2029, there are expected to be up to 861,000 job openings in BC — more than 77% of these jobs require technical or trades training. The Industry Training Authority (ITA) provides early trades training for youth, helping them secure the skills they need to find a job even before they graduate.

Given that Indigenous youth is the fastest growing demographic in the country – according to Stats Canada – we know there is a young and growing Indigenous population in BC which is an “untapped” 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. Through its many programs the ITA works with employers, apprentices, industry, labour, training providers and government to issue credentials, support apprenticeships, fund programs, set program standards and increase opportunities in the trades. 

Thanks to the efforts of ITA and its community engagement last year over 3,000 Indigenous apprenticeships were underway in our province. 

Andrew George, who served ITA as an Apprenticeship Advisor from 2014 until 2019 when he left to begin an Indigenous culinary program outline at NVIT, – is extremely proud of ITA’s accomplishments, citing that when he began at ITA there were 50 Indigenous apprenticeships. By the end of 2019, it had surpassed 3000! 

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

ITA works with a community-based network of Indigenous community training and employment service agencies across the province and with trades jobs opening up over the next decade, never has there been a better time for Indigenous people to enter skilled trades. 

Capital Corporations – accelerating the Indigenous economy

Capital Corporations are key and essential players within the Indigenous business economy whose contributions help generate and cultivate innovation.

As most people know, a dynamic small business sector with strong entrepreneurship is critical to economic development. But what is the greatest barrier for Indigenous entrepreneurs to meet with success? Access to capital. More than half of Indigenous entrepreneurs rely on personal savings for business start-ups. And that’s where Aboriginal Financial Institutions come in.

In BC, the engines which are providing access to funding are the province’s Aboriginal Capital Corporations. Cliff Fregin, past CEO of New Relationship Trust and current COO of Indspire, an organization committed to investing in the education of Indigenous people, said it best, “the Aboriginal Capital Corporations are the unsung heroes of Indigenous entrepreneurship in this province.”

The National Indigenous Economic Development Board’s June 2019 Progress Report states that Indigenous businesses are increasingly becoming important and innovative contributors to the Canadian economy.

Carol Anne Hilton, 2013 Alumni of the Indigenous Business Award (IBA) program, and founder of the Indigenomics Institute, comments that the impact of these Capital Corporations is “improving lives, fueling economic growth, furthering reconciliation, and providing a growing young workforce with opportunity. Success breeds success and recognizing Indigenous organizations builds awareness of Indigenous leadership, models a path for others, and inspires further success. This is Indigenomics in action.”

New Relationship Trust (NRT) provides funding to various Capital Corporations and has been a strong and stalwart partner of the Indigenous Business Award (IBA) since its inception twelve years ago.

The IBA program is grateful to NRT for their financial support, as well as for the past and current support of Capital Corporations, such as ANTCO, NEDC, TACC and Sto:lo Community Futures who have nominated strong businesses, many of whom have become awardees and serve as models for business success. In the words of Carol Anne Hilton, “this leadership contributes to the possibility that a 100 billion-dollar Indigenous annual economy can happen in the near future.”

Mr. Bannock Indigenous Cuisine

It takes a community to raise a business to its feet. One such example is Paul Nattrall, owner and operator of Mr Bannock Indigenous Cuisine and recipient of the 2019 Young Entrepreneur of the Year, Indigenous Business Award (IBA). 

At the 2019 IBA presentation, Paul expressed his gratitude to the community that helped his business get to the point it is at today including his partner Kelly and the Squamish Nation. He acknowledged the start-up support received from Squamish Nation Trust “for guiding and helping me start the vision of showcasing Indigenous cuisine to the world.” He also thanked Small Business BC for “helping me plan and execute to get Mr. Bannock, Vancouver’s first Indigenous food truck.” Paul also gave a shout out to the media who helped him share his story and Vancity for providing social media and business strategy support. 

Mr. Bannock creates Indigenous fusion food that focuses on Indigenous ingredients and traditional cooking methods and blends them with modern cuisine. For Paul, it’s about getting back to the roots that First Nations originally used. “I can share this food and create dishes that showcase traditional ingredients and cooking methods while showing my communities that this is our food, and this is what we can do with it.” 

As a young entrepreneur, Paul set a goal to start his business and it took four years to get it all up and running. With the support of his family, his Nation, and business and financial organizations, he fulfilled his dream. 

 “If I can do it, then anyone else can!” 

Today, Mr Bannock Indigenous Cuisine partners with local and Indigenous businesses, Spirit Bear Coffee,  One Arrow Meats, to bring more fresh and local options to its customers, proving that it really does take a community to build a business! 

The Indigenous Business Award is an annual program run by the BC Achievement Foundation to give voice to Indigenous entrepreneurship while modelling success. The program is currently in deliberations to select the recipients of the 2020 IBA program. Watch for an announcement of the awardees, coming this Fall. 

Sam Carter – a champion of applied art and design

The Carter Wosk Award in Applied Art + Design is named, in part, after artist, leader and educator, Sam Carter. Synonymous with applied art and design in BC and throughout the world, Sam has the gained international respect and admiration of artists, students and art educators. In 2017, he was recognized as the Award of Distinction Laureate of the Carter Wosk Award in Applied Art + Design.  

Over the past 50 years, Sam has dedicated himself to the collecting, curating, and designing of exhibitions that reflect and showcase design, craft, and applied arts within Canada.  

Emigrating from California in 1965, Sam began his Canadian career working at the Ontario Science Centre where, as a senior designer, he helped create interactive exhibits, many of which focused on Canadian contributions to science. 

Sam continued his contributions to Canadian art and design, through his work with the Ontario College of Art organizing “culture probes” that engaged students, faculty, corporations, government, and communities in various creative projects. 

Once he settled in British Columbia, Sam taught at the Vancouver School of Art (now Emily Carr University of Art and Design). Here he contributed (and still contributes as a Professor Emeritus) to the documentation and elevation of Canadian design and applied arts, through online history and theory courses, events, and exhibitions. As well, through his mentorship of students, Sam developed life-long friendships with artists now recognized in BC and beyond for their unique and beautiful design creations. 

Throughout all his work, Sam’s exhibitions and events have shone a light on works by Canadian designers, craftspeople, and applied artists from all regions of this country. He has enabled people from all walks of life to enjoy the diverse elegance of Canadian design, craft, and applied arts and, in doing so, has brought international attention to Canadian talent, for which he has an enduring and dedicated passion. 

As the curator for all fifteen annual exhibitions which have celebrated the awardees of the Carter Wosk Award in Applied Art + Design program, Sam Carter continues to be a leading advocate and champion for applied art and design in BC. His efforts have advanced and elevated the collective conversation around Canada’s functional art and design successes while creating a legacy to inspire future generations. 

The timeless debate between art and design

Dr. Yosef Wosk delivered a thoughtful and empowering speech to the awardees, their colleagues, friends and families at the 2019 Carter Wosk Award in Applied Art + Design presentation ceremony. 

He spoke of the age-old debate between art versus design, what distinguishes art from design, and how this award unites them both. 

“The artist, the fine artist, the free artist, the pure artist operates more perhaps as a shaman, as a revolutionary as a transformer and as a lover. Whereas the applied artists’ work is more often thought of as domesticated, as tamed, as practical, as ritualized. Perhaps the greatest champion and master of applied art and design was Willam Morris, the author, the designer, the printer and the seller of this book from the Kelmscott Press 130 years ago. 

One of his most famous statements, ‘If you want a golden rule that will fit everything, this is it, have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful’.  

There are two different things he’s brought together as we have brought together tonight art and design. ‘Know’ means to understand; it’s a rational idea, it’s logic, it’s most often related to practical design. And ‘believe’ is more transcendent, intuitive, the pure art.  

Those who we celebrate this evening are among the few, the rare, the best who are both artists and designers, mystics and manufacturers. You are the hybrid few who bridge both worlds and allow the rest of us to cross between otherwise unreachable dimensions.” 

To those applied artists who are recognized by the Carter Wosk Award program, we salute you for making the practical, more beautiful. And we invite those of you who are artists and designers to nominate now for the 2020 Carter Wosk Award in Applied Art + Design.  

Online nomination forms are at bcachievement.com until August 9th


Nominate Now for the Fulmer Award in First Nations Art and Elevate Excellence, Share Success, Inspire Change

The Fulmer Award celebrates the intersection of art and culture, while honouring First Nations artistic traditions from throughout the province. 

Richard Adkins, Haida Nation, 2018 Fulmer Awardee, shared his thoughts on why honouring First Nations art is so meaningful: 

“I think what’s happening tonight for me and for my family is something that is very important. This would not have happened for me when I was 13 years old – it was a different world. What we did wasn’t appreciated at all. This is positive. What’s happening is very important. My sisters and my mother are down here, along with one of my nieces and all are very proud of me. They are going to go home with this story and they are going to talk about this to my nieces and nephews and grandnieces and grandnephews. I never had any children, this story about what their uncle did is going to have a profound effect on these little native children. They are going to think about what I did (although I am not affected by it) but in their little minds they are going to be thinking – this is what is expected of me. This is important. This change is important.” 

The annual program is designed for artists from BC First Nations who have demonstrated a commitment to their art practice, have accumulated a body of work, and who are recognized in their communities as artists. Nominate now and elevate excellence – nominations close on August 2, 2020.

“When we create art it’s every part of our spirit…it’s healing, and it’s teaching me the values that we once carried strong within us, like patience and innovation.” 

Doreen Manuel, 2019 Fulmer Award in First Nations Art Awardee 


Nominate today…and be part of it! 12 reasons to nominate, elevate, share and inspire

The Indigenous Business Award (IBA) program is a platform for connections and change. COVID-19 has shifted the economic landscape and Indigenous businesses throughout the province have demonstrated their respective resilience in remarkable ways.  

Fostering Indigenous entrepreneurship is an important step towards economic independence. Indigenous businesses help generate cultural resurgence and build significant socio-economic opportunities across the province. The IBA program provides a showcase for these successes.  #nominatenowbc

THE IMPACT – IBA 2009-2020 

Over the past 11 years, the IBA program has represented Indigenous communities from throughout the province, honouring and sharing the impact of almost 200 businesses.

Let’s take a look at the 12 Reasons to Nominate Now! 

ONE: 2020 Nene Kraneveldt – 2019 Alumni  

“Now more than ever we need to create space to lift people up and celebrate the cycle breakers and change agents that are creating a path for a better future. As a recipient of an IBA award, I am grateful for the new opportunities, friendships and recognition that have been afforded to me.”

TWO: 2019 Carol Anne Hilton – 2013 Alumni 

“Tonight’s awardees reflect the achievements of Indigenous Business in BC. Their efforts are accelerating the Indigenous economy. In doing so they are improving lives, fueling economic growth, furthering reconciliation, and providing a growing young workforce with opportunity. Success breeds success and recognizing Indigenous organizations builds awareness of Indigenous leadership, models a path for others, and inspires further success. This is Indigenomics in action. This leadership contributes to the possibility that a 100 billion-dollar Indigenous annual economy can happen by 2024.” 

THREE: 2018 Chief Wayne Christian – Community Owned Business of the Year Awardee  

“We walk in two worlds – we have the western science and then our own science, our traditional knowledge. We have to have an understanding of both so that there is a balance all the time. I am proud of our young people. Especially those that have challenged themselves to become business owners. They are trying to create their own wealth. They want to be agents of change and make a difference.” 

FOUR: 2017 Chief Gibby Jacob – Award of Distinction, Individual Achievement 

“These stories of business excellence are the continuation of an agenda set by our ancestors, and our people are starting to take hold of the opportunities.” 

FIVE: 2016 Robert Louie – Award of Distinction, Individual Achievement 

“Everyone must benefit from a business deal – we cannot leave anyone behind …follow three rules: walk a straight line and never deviate or go off the path; keep your ego in your pocket; allow things to flow off yourself like water off a duck’s back.”

SIX: 2015 Erica Ryan Gagne – Alumni retrospective film: Where are they now? 

“Receiving the award gave me a voice that people would listen to…it told people something relevant about me and the importance of overcoming struggles.” 

SEVEN: 2014 Wendy John – Closing Remarks, BC Achievement Board Member 

“To the awardees, thank you for creating opportunities that have legacies for our children, for our grandchildren to follow. And, they will be able to share stories about how you broke through, time and time again, to ensure that we have wealth creations in our communities that are based on our values and our traditions.” 

EIGHT: 2013 Erica Ryan Gagne – Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awardee 

“Do you know where I was three years ago tonight? Right where you are now – watching a young woman, just like myself, receiving the young entrepreneur award…I leaned over and said that’s going to be me before my 30th birthday! The IBA is where I was inspired and for that I am grateful. My wish for you is soak it up, enjoy it, charge your batteries, take it home and rub it on your children, tell your cousins and get inspired.” 

NINE: 2012 Doug White – First Nations Leadership Council Awardee Tribute 

“It is a remarkable acknowledgement of what each of these businesses reflects of Aboriginal values, of hard work and giving back to communities. They matter, they are looking after their communities and their families and they are an integral part of the economic success of this amazing province.” 

TEN: 2011 Chief Clarence Louie – Award of Distinction, Individual Achievement 

“This is a WE award and not a ME award which is for the past, the present and the future of our communities. We have proven that we can retain our culture and still do good business.” 

ELEVEN: 2010 Shawn Atleo – Regional Chief BC AFN, Welcome Remarks 

“We cannot underestimate the important of self-sufficiency – and as Leonard George advises – what we are recognizing this year is ‘just the tip of the iceberg’. Wait until you see what is going to be possible next year. Our ancestors were getting on with business and we are rising up and following in their footsteps.”  

TWELVE: 2009 Jacob Beaton – Youth Entrepreneur of the Year Inaugural Awardee

  “I am here today but out of respect for those who have gone before and those who are yet to come. One misconception that really upsets me is that Aboriginal business is a new thing – it’s not. The spirits of the ancestors who are in this land are strong – they were here, and they were conducting amazing businesses and that continued after contact…it’s my duty to encourage all of the leaders to involve youth in your organizations from top to bottom and help develop the leaders of tomorrow.”  #nominatenowbc

His quest continues. With gratitude to Bill McLennan 1948 – 2020

“Within art, there is no time when traditions stop or start – there has been a gap in the timeframe of rebuilding Northwest Coast art – but now artists are making new and more powerful statements and the vitality of their work is on display here tonight – it has the connection and it has the artist behind it – this is a phenomenal thing”.  Bill McLennan, Fulmer Award Artist Talk, November 2019 

Bill deeply and intimately understood the cultural and historical connection between Northwest Coast Art and First Nations identity. He devoted his career to revealing this connection and its importance. So much so that it became his personal passion and quest to repatriate art pieces back to their respective ancestral homes. At a November 2019 BC Achievement Fulmer Award Artist Talk, Bill shared how it is an obsession for him to track down this missing art from museums and collections all over the world: 

“I am a bit obsessive – in October (2019) I was back in Montreal in meetings with a foundation that supports MOA. On the last day after the meetings, I got up at 5:00am and took the train to Toronto – then the subway to the Royal Ontario Museum. There, I photographed, in infrared, the pieces that I missed 30 years ago. Northwest Coast Art is spread all around the world – so, unfortunately – these pieces are not (yet) making their way back to their home communities. There are more and more cultural centres which can house the art but just tracking these pieces down and finding ways that other artists can find them – it is so important. It is what I think about all the time – where can I find them”? 

Every step of Bill’s career took him further along his quest, beginning with the Image Recovery Project which he started in 1980 at the UBC Museum of Anthropology (MOA). He discovered that taking photographs using infrared film could reveal Northwest Coast paintings that had disappeared under the patina of age. What came out of this research was the book, “The Transforming Image: Painted Arts of Northwest Coast First Nations” by Bill and his MOA colleague Karen Duffek. It became a guide for many Northwest Coast First Nations artists as they discovered their artistic identity. Tsimshian artist Phil Gray (2014 Awardee) labelled the book as a ‘game changer’ for artists as it allowed them to be able to see photographs of their ancestors’ work that revealed a design style that was a disciplined and strict art form. He said, “it was like having a thesaurus with you at all times” and shared its impact on his artistic development:  

“I really studied it – I wanted to be more than just be a Northwest Coast Native Artist – and, I was able to understand my Tsimshian identity. ‘Transforming Images’ gave me pride as I had never seen any representation of Tsimshian art before”. 

Bill’s advocacy for repatriating First Nations Art to its rightful communities permeated his daily world and he framed his quest with stories and narratives which outlined the connections between art and culture: 

“The removal of all these artifacts was the physical removal that connected families to their histories. So, it was much more than just a really nice bowl – it connected to all the families who had ever used it – it had the history built into it in at a potlatch or a feast – it had all this knowledge embedded into it and then it was basically taken away. These pieces left the Northwest Coast and became something else in different communities in Europe – but they are the history of the Northwest Coast. These pieces need to come back because of the knowledge imbedded within them and can be extracted by current day artists – creating sense of identity for them”.

Bill took pride in celebrating First Nation Art in BC while supporting emerging and established artists and he did so with an unrelenting dedication and quiet determination. He seemed able to make time for everyone and injected a warm and quick sense of humour into all his conversations. For over 15 years he was a committed advisor, friend and inspiration to BC Achievement’s First Nations Art program and the foundation is so grateful for his willingness to share his vast knowledge. His sage and passionate voice along with his kind and thoughtful nature will be much missed but his repatriation quest and its legacy will continue. Thank you, Bill. 

In lieu of flowers, Bill’s family has asked for donations to the Downtown Eastside women’s shelter. When Bill retired from MOA, a scholarship was established in his name at the Freda Diesing School of Northwest Coast Art, and this is another option for honouring his memory.

Photo (left to right): Brenda Crabtree,  KC Hall (2018 Awardee, Crabtree McLennan Emerging Artist), Bill McLennan