In 1995 the Cando Economic Developer of the Year Award was created to recognize and promote recent or long-standing Aboriginal economic development initiatives throughout Canada. All winners past and present share a common desire to bring their communities forward as each pursues a vision of sustainable economic self-sufficiency.

Although the path of economic development may vary from one Aboriginal community to another, the goal is always the same. That goal is to improve the wealth, prosperity and quality of life for Aboriginal people.

It is important for Aboriginal Economic developers to get the recognition that they deserve for their commitment and dedication to increase the standards of living and prosperity in Aboriginal communities.

This is what motivates Cando to coordinate and host the prestigious annual Aboriginal Economic Developer of the Year Awards that recognize the outstanding achievements of nominees from across the country in three separate award categories which include: Community, Individual Economic Development Officer and Aboriginal Private Sector Business.

Two finalists in each of the categories are selected to present to the conference delegates who then vote for the top award in each category.


Kahkewistahaw Economic Management Corporation

Kahkewistahaw First Nation (KFN) is located in southeastern Saskatchewan within Treaty 4 territory, and next to the Qu’Appelle Valley.

In 2002, the Kahkewistahaw Economic Management Corporation (KEMC) and its group of companies were established, separating the business and economic development function from the daily administration and politics of the First Nation.

Carcross Tagish Management Corporation

The Carcross/Tagish First Nation (CTFN) is located in the town of Carcross, in the Yukon Territory. Many of the Carcross/Tagish First Nation people are descendants of both Tagish and Tlingit.

As of January 2006, the Carcross/Tagish First Nation is a self-governing First Nation. The CTFN government has established and mandated the Carcross Tagish Management Corporation (CTMC) to act on behalf of the CTFN to create a local year-around private sector economy within their negotiated settlement lands.


Bizzybody Events

Bizzybody Events is a 100% Aboriginal owned-and-operated event management company with more than 23 years of experience. Based in Fort St. John, Bizzybody Events offers professional management services for events, projects and fundraising initiatives for organizations, First Nation communities, industry and municipalities throughout British Columbia.

Jocelyn Schick, the current CEO of the company, founded Bizzybody Events in January of 2008 with the assistance of the Northeast Aboriginal Business Center, and has enjoyed a great measure of growth and success.

Erasmus Apparel

Erasmus Apparel is 100% Aboriginal-owned and an ideal example of how to become successful in the northern business world.

In January of 2011, Sarah Erasmus was fresh out of design school, full of ambition, hopes and a vision for a successful northern business, when she decided to take a huge risk. She decided against the safety of taking her talent to an existing business and instead took a chance, followed her dreams, and created Erasmus Apparel with the intent to fill a gap that existed in the northern marketplace. Erasmus Apparel was created to produce original clothing and products, designed and produced by a northerner for northerners.


Darrell Balkwill, CEO Whitecap Development Corporation

Darrell Balkwill is currently the CEO of Whitecap Development Corporation for the Whitecap Dakota First Nation, located 26 kilometers south of the City of Saskatoon.

He grew up in Saskatoon, receiving his Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Saskatchewan. Darrell has owned a number of successful businesses over the last 20 years and currently owns businesses in the health, transportation and real estate sectors. In 1986, Darrell began employment with the Saskatoon Tribal Council as their Economic Development Officer. He worked with the seven member First Nations for 17 years assisting in the establishment of community economic development programming, planning and project development.

Justin Ferbey, CEO Carcross Tagish Management Corporation

Justin is the current Chief Executive Officer of Carcross Tagish Management Corporation, a Yukon based economic development corporation.

As the CEO of Carcross Tagish Management Corporation, Justin has made unprecedented progress in articulating and implementing the community vision to develop a private sector economy in Carcross that will create sustainable jobs and business opportunities for the community, First Nation and the region by developing Carcross into a world class tourist destination. This vision is comprised of 4 strategic pillars: to create a new market, service the market, accommodate the market, and then establish a year round market in the rural Yukon community. Justin has successfully captured this four pillar approach through the development initiatives of the Carcross Tagish Management Corporation.