The 15th annual Indigenous Business Awards winners were recently announced, with one Maple Ridge man being named the Young Entrepreneur of the Year.
Dwight Ballantyne is the founder of The Ballantyne Project, which is a youth-led initiative that aims to bring awareness to Indigenous groups that are often overlooked by society.
Although he is originally from Montreal Lake Cree Nation, Ballantyne relocated to Maple Ridge several years ago and has been working steadily since then to create local projects that help support First Nations communities.
Ballantyne has made headlines time and time again over the years as The Ballantyne Project unveils new and unique projects, including the #WeSeeYou campaign, which was specifically targeted toward supporting Indigenous members in remote places.
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According to the BC Achievement Foundation, which is the organization that hands out these annual awards, Ballantyne was able to use his authenticity and vulnerability to amplify the positive impacts of The Ballantyne Project.
Ballantyne said he was surprised but honoured to learn that his project had been selected as the winner of the Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
“When I started The Ballantyne Project in 2019 my goal was to raise awareness about life in northern First Nations and give a voice to the experiences of Indigenous youth living there,” said Ballantyne. “I had no idea that through the dedication of many individuals and our sponsor partners, The Ballantyne Project would be nominated for such a prestigious award.”
One of the ongoing initiatives that The Ballantyne Project offers is the #WeSeeYou trips, which will once again be offered next February and May.
As part of these trips, Indigenous youth from remote and northern First Nations will receive an all-inclusive, week-long, educational, and life-experience trip to Vancouver. These youth are people who might not otherwise be able to experience these kinds of opportunities due to the remote nature of their communities.
For more information on The Ballantyne Project, visit www.theballantyneproject.com.
Walter Pela, chair of the BC Achievement Foundation, congratulated Ballantyne and the rest of the Indigenous Business Awards recipients on their big win.
“Your success serves as an inspiring example of the key role Indigenous businesses play within local communities, throughout the province, and beyond,” said Pela.
All of the Indigenous Business Awards winners will be honoured at a gala ceremony in Vancouver on Nov. 1.