TORONTO – The Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business Aboriginal Business Hall of Fame Award will be awarded this year to Québec’s Pita Aatami and Mervin Dewasha of Ontario to recognize and celebrate their accomplishments as individual business leaders and for their contributions to sustainable economic development for aboriginal communities.
Aatami is the president of Makivik Corporation, a position elected by the Inuit residents of Nunavik which he has held since 1998. The Makivik Corporation is headquartered in Kuujjuaq, Québec, and was established in 1975 to administer the funds from the first comprehensive Inuit land claim in Canada. In conjunction with his role as president, Aatami is also chairman of First Air and director of Air Inuit, both subsidiaries of the Makivik Corporation.
Dewasha is CEO of Neegan Burnside, an aboriginal-owned engineering firm. Under his vision and leadership, the company has had an annual growth rate of 16 percent with the number of aboriginal employees nearly doubling in the last five years. Dewasha is the president of the Canadian Aboriginal Science and Engineering Association and has been a leader in encouraging aboriginal youth to pursue careers in science and engineering. He is a member of the Wahta Mohawk First Nation.
The ABHF was initiated in 2004, for the 20th anniversary of CCAB and is now in its sixth year of recognizing the outstanding achievements of aboriginal business people. The two 2010 inductees will receive their awards March 31 at CCAB’s 12th Annual Toronto Gala Dinner for which more than 500 aboriginal and mainstream business and community leaders will be gathering in Toronto. More information on this event can be found online.
The award recognizes leaders who have demonstrated exceptional foresight, determination and resilience in their business careers in a number of ways, including revenue development, employment creation and partnership innovation. Hall of Fame laureates serve as an example and inspiration to others. Aatami and Dewasha join an impressive group of ABHF laureates including:
- Jim Boucher, the elected chief of Fort McKay First Nation and chairman of the board of the Fort McKay Group of Companies.
- Judith Sayers, the former chief of the Hupacasath First Nation and current co-chair of the Island Corridor Foundation.
- Nellie Cournoyea, chair and CEO of the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation and a former premier of the Northwest Territories.
- Ron Jamieson, a Mohawk from Six Nations, Ontario, the former senior vice president of Aboriginal Banking at the Bank of Montreal.
- Dr. Billy “Chief” Diamond, a northern Québec Cree, and founder of Air Creebec.
- Irvin Goodon, a Métis from Boissevain, Manitoba and founder of Canada’s largest post frame construction company.
- Aboriginal aviation pioneer and community leader Fred Carmichael, a Gwich’in from the Northwest Territories.
- Alberta business leader and entrepreneur Chief Victor Buffalo, a Cree from Samson Cree First Nation.
- Harry Cook, the former chief of Saskatchewan’s Lac La Ronge Indian Band First Nation, who oversaw the success of Kitsaki Development Corporation.
- Entrepreneur Garfield Flowers, an Inuk from Hopedale, Newfoundland and Labrador.
- The late Suzanne Rochon-Burnett, a Métis from Ontario and the first Aboriginal person to operate a commercial radio station.
- Jack MacDonald, CEO of Compass Group Canada, chairs the ABHF Selection Committee.
ESS Support Services Worldwide, a division of Compass Group, is the founding and exclusive sponsor for the Aboriginal Business Hall of Fame. Compass Group is the nation’s leading food service and facilities management company serving markets including business and industry dining, vending, health care, sports and entertainment, remote sites, and travel concessions across Canada. Compass Group has received the Gold PAR award from CCAB in Progressive Aboriginal Relations.
CCAB was founded in 1984 by a small group of visionary business and community leaders led by Murray Koffler. CCAB is committed to the full participation of aboriginal people in Canada’s economy. A national nonprofit organization, CCAB offers knowledge, resources and programs to both mainstream and aboriginal-owned companies that foster economic opportunities for aboriginal people and businesses across Canada.