BIRCH ISLAND— On November 5, the Waubetek Business Development Corporation held its Business Awards Gala at Casino Rama Hotel and Conference Centre on the Rama First Nation. The event, held every two years, recognizes the achievements of aboriginal businesses in Northeast Ontario who create much needed jobs and services for aboriginal and non-aboriginal people alike throughout the region. The gala is also considered a premiere event in recognizing aboriginal role models.
This celebration of the aboriginal entrepreneurial spirit honoured four aboriginal businesses in the following categories:
Youth Entrepreneur of the Year: presented to Ryan Nolan of Batchewana First Nation who owns and operates Nolan MX Academy in Sault Ste. Marie. Mr. Nolan is an international motocross competitor who provides instruction to all age groups and who builds motocross tracks not only in Canada, but also in the U.S. and Caribbean as well.
New Entrepreneur of the Year: presented to Your Dollar Store with More in Wikwemikong, which is owned by the First Nation. This business supplies a valuable retail service in the community and surrounding region. The business provides four full-time jobs along with two part time and on several on-call staff for busy seasons.
Business Merit Award: presented to Octavius Frawley of Nipissing First Nation who owns and operates Mechanical Resources Inc. based out of Sudbury. The company supplies a variety of services to the mining sector. As an experienced millwright journeyman, Mr. Frawley has worked in the industry for 20 years and employs many tradespeople.
Business Achievement Award: presented to the owner and operator of the world famous Killarney Fish and Chips”business, Mr. Ross Herbert, a member of the Henvey Inlet First Nation. The Herbert family has been involved in fisheries for more than five generations developing a legacy of great service and exceptional knowledge of all aspects of commercial fisheries, fish processing and the sale of fish and chips.
The gala also featured an aboriginal entertainment showcase. The performers included Mary Nahwegahbow, David Laronde, Mimi O’Bonsawin and Robbie Antone.