Dawn Madahhbee Leach to receive lifetime business achievement award

Dawn Madahbee Leach has been named as the 2023 Business Lifetime Achievement Award recipient by Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business.

TORONTO—The Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB) plans a celebration to honour Dawn Madahbee Leach, general manager (GM) of the Waubetek Business Development Corporation as the 2023 Business Lifetime Achievement Award recipient.

Lesley Hampton has also been named as the recipient of the Young Aboriginal Entrepreneur Award. The awards are being made to recognize their contributions to the Indigenous economy at different stages in their careers.

“I am looking forward to our event on February 7 to celebrate two exemplary and inspiring Indigenous women,” said Tabatha Bull, president, and chief executive officer, CCAB. “Over the span of her career, Dawn Madahbee Leach continues to make significant contributions toward Indigenous economic development and demonstrates lifelong leadership. Lesley Hampton, an up-and-coming icon as an artist and fashion designer, continues her activism in the fashion industry and serves as an inspiration to other young Indigenous entrepreneurs.”

CCAB’s Business Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to a First Nations, Inuit or Metis person whose business leadership has made a substantial contribution to the economic and social well-being of Indigenous people. “The jury’s unanimous decision to recognize Dawn Madahbee Leach, a respected International Indigenous business leader with CCAB’s national award. Through her work with the National Indigenous Economic Development Board, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, and Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, she continues to be integral to Indigenous economic development in Canada. She has a deep connection to her routes as an Anishinabe-kwe from the Aundeck Omni Kaning and Whitefish River First Nations, as she continues to be a part of the development of Indigenous strategies in multiple sectors, regionally. She is also notably one of the key leaders in the 2022 National Indigenous Economy Strategy, developing 107 calls to action that lead to economic prosperity for all Canadians,” the CCAB explained.

Ms. Madahbee Leach has served as GM at Waubetek Business Development Corporation since 1988. The organization provides financing and other resources to Indigenous business owners starting or expanding their businesses.

Ms. Madahbee Leach’s longstanding career has allowed her to have a deep understanding of the challenges that Indigenous businesses and communities face, and how to develop strategies for long-term success. As GM of Waubetek she has been responsible for more than $110 million in financing and funding to 27 First Nation communities.

“This lifetime achievement award from CCAB is humbly accepted on behalf of all who have guided, supported and encouraged me on my life’s journey to be brave, to work hard, and to bring about positive change,” said Ms. Madahbee Leach. “I am extremely grateful to have among my teachers many inspirational Indigenous leaders from within our communities, in business, in national organizations, and around the world who share a vision of prosperity for our people.”

“ESS is proud to sponsor the Aboriginal Business Lifetime Achievement Award. I send my congratulations to Dawn Madahbee Leach for her dedication to advancing economic development in Indigenous communities across Canada and around the world,” said Johanne Belanger, president, ESS North America. “Dawn’s lifetime commitment has had a tremendous impact on all who she’s encountered; community leaders, young women and men with whom she has worked, students, business owners, elders and leaders. Dawn is a lifelong leader and trail blazer in Aboriginal economic development.”

Both Ms. Madahbee Leach and Ms. Hampton are to be honoured and celebrated at an awards dinner following CCAB’s central business forum on February 7 in Toronto. ESS Support Services Worldwide is the award sponsor for both national awards and Bruce Power is the lead sponsor for the central business forum.