A special event was held at Hotel Forestel in Val-d’Or, on November 6, promoted by the regional Community Futures Development Corporation: Eeyou Economic Group. It was a gala event focussing on the theme “The Power of Tomorrow” and based on our Cree culture and values. As the Eeyou Economic Group’s third annual gala unfolded, familiar faces from far and near showed up to recognize the efforts of local Cree entrepreneurs.
Emcee Stan Wesley coolly delivered the agenda, an inspiring prayer from First Lady Mary Ann Coon Come opened the gala, and after having the blessings directed to a positive outcome for the show, the fine drum group Screaming Eagles of Lac Simon provided some appealing rhythms, welcoming us to their traditional territory of the Algonquin Nations.
Wesley acknowledged the special sponsors and guests of honour, who included Grand Chief Matthew Coon Come, Minister responsible for Aboriginal Affairs Pierre Corbeil, Amos Deputy Mayor Éric Mathieu, and Patrick Lamarre, Manager of Aboriginal Business Services at the Business Development Bank of Canada. The two organizations co-hosting the event were represented by Sidney Orr, President of Eeyou Economic Group, and Pierre Ouellet, Coordinator of the Secretariat to the Cree Nation – Abitibi-Témiscamingue Economic Alliance; both sat with their prestigious guests at the head table.
Participants came from all over Eeyou Istchee, eager to find out if their local community business would garner that special recognition as being the best in their category.
Orr welcomed everyone, giving anecdotal experiences of an entrepreneur he admired and who inspired him, his uncle Roderick Herodier, who ran a restaurant in Chisasibi for many years at the commercial centre.
A new award was added in honour of late Albert Diamond, the Albert Diamond Award of Excellence.
Recognition of outstanding efforts in the following categories were awarded to:
Awashish Outdoors Outfitting Camp
Hospitality Provider Award
Fastest Growing Business of the Year
Cree Sports & Outdoors
Growth and Innovation Award
Youth Entrepreneur of the Year
Women Entrepreneur of the Year
Business Award of Excellence
Albert Diamond Award
Osprey Outfitting Camp
Entrepreneur of the Year
Entrepreneurial Community of the Year
Another part of the Eeyou Economic Group gala was the entertainment and talent provided by Cree artisans from all over Eeyou Istchee. The presence of Robert Bobbish, Brian Fireman, Dale House and a traditional Cree drummer filled the venue with great music and special appearance from award-winning Roger House. The angelic voice of Candy Gunner of Mistissini inspired many while the traditional drum-style mixed contemporary songs of the Swallow family of Chisasibi made the gala all the more special.
A special thanks to Jessyka Simard of EEG and Chantal Hamelin of the of Secretariat to the Cree Nation – Abitibi-Témiscamingue Economic Alliance and all the staff of both parties who made this event possible. Also, thanks to the presenters Marlene I. Kitchen, Robert Kitchen, Stephen Serafinowicz, Pierre Ouellet, Rachel Etapp and Sidney Orr.