THUNDER BAY ON: Nishnawbe Aski Development Fund (NADF) hosts its 20th annual Business Awards today at the Valhalla Inn in Thunder Bay, Ontario.
Held in the heart of ‘Small Business Week 2010’, this exciting event celebrates and honors the achievements of existing Aboriginal businesses in Northern Ontario while promoting Aboriginal economic development through entrepreneurship.
“It is very encouraging to witness the growth of the NADF Business Awards every year,” said NADF President and CEO Harvey Yesno. “What began as a small event with just two categories and seventeen guests has blossomed into northern Ontario’s ultimate networking event. It’s a wonderful way to showcase the brightest minds in the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal business community and we are happy to be able to carry on tradition with this event.”
This year’s event theme ‘Eliminating Barriers’ highlights the newly revamped award categories with nominations coming from First Nation, Métis and Aboriginal peoples, groups, communities and organizations across northern Ontario. A new Awards category, ‘New Business of the Year’, has been introduced to recognize the budding spirit of entrepreneurship among new businesses. This new category is in addition to the existing 7 Awards categories:
1. Businessman of the Year
2. Businesswoman of the Year
3. Executive of the Year
4. Youth Entrepreneur of the Year
5. Partnership of the Year
6. Corporation of the Year
7. Building Communities
8. New Business of the Year
Youth Entrepreneur of the Year Spa Euphoria and Wellness Retreat
Janet Furoy is a young Aboriginal woman with a vision. After completing a number of esthetic courses, Janet decided to start her own business. During her business planning process she identified a typical salon structure as her goal that included esthetics and hair dressing services to clients. As she was in the process of implementing her business plan, Janet made a decision to focus on health and beauty, and recognizing that chemicals used in popular hair treatments did not align with her focus on health, she did not include hairdressing services in her business. Aptly renamed Spa Euphoria and Wellness Retreat, clients are able to receive an array of health and wellness treatments, including an oxygen bar, Soqi bed, foot detox, and E-power, that complement a full line of esthetic services that includes facials, manicures, and pedicures.
Janet continues to access training to improve and enhance her esthetic skills while researching new health and wellness techniques and technologies. Her goal is to ensure her product line is always evolving and offering new options to her clients. Through the use of discounted gift certificates, she attracts new clients.
Through the networks developed in the community Spa Euphoria and Wellness Retreat has organized and undertaken fund-raising events to support Camp Quality and made donations to other charities. A second charity was recently identified to benefit from its efforts, the Canadian Mental Health Association. Janet’s philosophy is that you cannot only take but have to give to have an effective, successful relationship. She reflects this in her commitment to the business and the community.
Janet Furoy has nurtured her business and the future looks bright.
Businessman of the Year Clayton Clace
Clayton Clace is an oil and gas technician by trade with over 10 years of experience working in the oil and gas industry. Clayton is certified under Technical Safety and Standards Association and possesses Wett certification for installation and inspection of fireplace and woodburning systems. Recognizing that First Nations in particular lacked reliable and regular maintenance and installation services for these systems, Clayton developed a business plan and established Tibricor Ltd. in 2007. Since establishing Tibricor Ltd. Clayton has provided his services to a number of First Nation communities in northern Ontario and has obtained contracts with the Ministry of Transportation.
Through his business Clayton has sponsored and donated to events and activities in the communities that he works with. Clayton’s work often finds him in the community for extended periods and in these instances in becomes an active participant in community events, thoroughly enjoying the company and knowledge that the community members share with him.
Clayton is eager to pass on his knowledge to anyone who takes a keen interest in his work and he has been instrumental in helping some obtain full employment in their community. As a result, Clayton is considering an expansion to his business that would include training on maintenance of heating and cooling systems.
Businesswoman of the Year Dorcas Barnes
Dorcas Barnes is a member of Moose Cree First Nation and is a graduate from the Canadian College of Massage and Hydro Therapy program. After researching and planning her business idea she established her business, “Dorcas’s Therapeutic Massage” in 2008. Operating as a sole proprietor, and the only Aboriginal Registered Massage Therapist in Timmins, Ontario, Dorcas specializes in massage therapy and provides other complementary client services including hydrotherapy, steam inhalation, salt glow, paraffin wax and body wraps.
Dorcas has over 15 years experience in the social services field and it is through her work experiences that she has been able to acquire the management skills necessary to successfully manage the day-to-day operations of her own business. Dorcas is dedicated to personal growth and is continually expanding her knowledge and techniques to improve her client services. She is a regular volunteer at many functions and events and is always eager to help others.
Executive of the Year David Fletcher
With over 40 years of experience working with First Nations organizations, David Fletcher has gained considerable knowledge and experience at both the managerial and leadership level. David’s career path has lead him to take on the various roles, including the roles of Executive Director to a First Nation organization, District Manager with Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, Director/Dean of a Community College, and to his current role as Executive Director of Nishnawbe Aski Nation. During his career he has also fulfilled the duties of Chief of Moose Cree First Nation and Deputy Grand Chief of Nishanwbe Aski Nation.
In his role as Executive Director, Mr. Fletcher provides political and administrative support to the Executive Council, oversees sixty-two (62) employees, and manages the day-to-day operations of the organization. Under his Direction, Mr. Fletcher has brought the organization to clean balanced audits, whereby Nishnawbe Aski Nation continues to have a notable surplus in operations. David strongly believes in an open-door policy which has fostered good relationships with the NAN Executive and staff, who respect him for his approachability, expertise and easy going nature.
David’s most recent achievement has been the successful negotiation with the Federal and Provincial Governments and the private sector of the largest and most complex project that NAN has had since its inception in 1973; an $82 million telecommunications system that will serve the 29 First Nation communities in the NAN territory.
Throughout his career, Mr. Fletcher has always demonstrated his commitment to the betterment of his people and community by volunteering on various committees and boards. Throughout his 40 year career David has made many contributions to the NAN territory and he looks forward to the coming years and what his work will bring to the people, land and culture of Nishnawbe Aski Nation.
Corporation of the Year Anemki Mountain Corporation
Anemki Mountain Corporation was established by the Fort William First Nation in 1993 to manage a 30,000 square feet office building located on reserve. Anemki is a for profit corporation comprised of a board of seven individuals who set the policies for the corporation and oversee the General Manager.
Although the creation of Anemki was originally a condition of funding, over the years Fort William First Nation has seen the value of such an arrangement and has utilized its management function for a variety of economic development projects. Over the years, Anemki has taken on the management and ownership of other office and community buildings, such as the Dilico building and the Wasaya building. Currently in process is the building of a new detachment for Anishnabek Police Services as well as negotiations to build two more buildings.
Each year, the profits are forwarded to the Fort William Fort William who in turn invest the profits in various community economic development initiatives to the benefit of the whole community. Most recently, Anemki has been asked to manage the Mount McKay Lookout and have begun to develop plans that will ultimately see an Ojibway Interpretive Center that will promote the Ojibway culture. The Fort William First Nation Arena, which had been experiencing financial difficulties, has recently come under the management of Anemki who has been able to turn the operation into a profitable entity.
The Anemki has three (3) departments: Building Management, Mountain Operations, and Arena Management, and currently has fifteen (15) employees, fourteen (14) of them band members.
Building Communities Pro Pipe Construction
Bertrand Neilsen established Pro Pipe Construction in 2002. Pro Pipe Construction provides superior general contracting and mechanical services in the fabrication of Water and Wastewater Treatment Plants. Initially working in the Timmins area, the company’s reputation quickly grew and Bert soon found his company working throughout northern Ontario and as far as St. John, New Brunswick for work.
Employing thirty-five (35) full-time personnel, Pro Pipe Construction has embraced the industry through the highest standards of professionalism, ethics and integrity. Mr. Neilsen’s extensive knowledge of mechanical and engineering disciplines, the operational aspects of water treatment facilities, legislations, and standards for equipment acquisition and installation has provided Pro Pipe Construction with an obvious advantage over many local contractors. As an emerging general contractor, Pro Pipe Construction is well positioned within the industry to ensure continued growth and longevity.
Pro Pipe Construction’s commitment to community is clearly demonstrated in the support they provide, such as fabricating and donating snowmobile rescue sleds to Connaught Detachment to aid in the extraction of snowmobile causalities; their employees volunteer as fire fighters; regularly sponsor fishing derbies for community youth; sponsoring five (5) students for hockey each year; and donating funds annually to the Timmins and District Hospital for the purchase of equipment. These are to name but a few.
New Business of the Year Gabriel Cross Gabby’s Spudz and More
Gabriel Cross is the owner/operator of Gabby’s Spudz and More, a small restaurant located in Thunder Bay, Ontario. When Gabby first opened the doors to her restaurant she had a very limited menu selection, serving coney dogs, homemade perogies, milk shakes and grilled Persians. New menu items, such as homemade lean burgers, chicken burgers and French fries were slowly added and Gabby’s profits and market grew. Gabriel has plans to add chicken wings to her menu in the coming months. Gabby’s also provides catering services.
Gabby’s mission is to sell great food with remarkable service. Gabby herself usually serves customers and it an ever-present feature. Gabby’s relentless exuberance and ability to interact positively with customers has allowed her to assimilate customer suggestions and ideas, transforming them into new and marketable commodities, such as her peanut butter/chocolate shake, now a favorite of many customers.
Gabriel has demonstrated her community commitment by donation of gift certificates to various causes throughout the year; sponsoring the “Relay for Shelter”, and donating to the “Motor for Muscles” event for the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation. Gabby’s has also provided hot lunches for two schools in the neighborhood.
Gabby’s Spudz and More currently employs two students and offers co-op placements to area high school students.
Gabriel is an active member of the board of directors for the PARO Group for Women and is also a volunteer at the Paro Presents Gift Shop.