Help us celebrate these extraordinary businesses & their accomplishments despite the unique challenges of 2020/2021!
For more information, an interview or contact information for one or all of the winners, please contact our Executive Director, Sally J M Douglas at firstname.lastname@example.org or 613 286 1767
In 2021 we were not able to visit regions of Canada and gather in person to celebrate these awards as we have in previous years. But we did not let that hinder the CANIE Awards competition or the celebrations. Instead of in person, we hosted our event virtually and broadcasted nationwide on November 3rd. This year we highlighted 7 national categories and presented $10,000 awards for each. Applications began to pour in this past spring and in late summer 5 semi-finalists were chosen in each category. All 35 semi-finalists were awarded a promotional video which you can find circulating on social media and on the Foundation’s website. These videos were produced to support the semi-finalists in business development and to raise their brand awareness. The Foundation promoted each of them at the local, regional and national level through press releases and social media promotion.
From each of those semi-finalist groups we were able to identify our winners through their excellence in innovation and entrepreneurship. These activities culminated in the virtual Grand Finale on November 3rd that you can watch here or via our website. Our work and celebrations would not be possible without the incredible support from our sponsors, all of whom we thank most sincerely.
Meet the 2021 CANIE Award Winners
1. Iskwew Air: 2021 Entrepreneur of the Year
Location: Richmond, BC
Teara Fraser was born in Hay River, Northwest Territories, and became a certified commercial pilot in 2002 after experiencing her first small aircraft flight in October 2001. She is the founder of Iskwew Air (ISS-KWAY-YO), a small airline offering charter service to remote Indigenous communities. An Indigenous-woman owned airline, Iskwew Air provides reliable 24-hour charter services to communities around the province of British Columbia. Fraser chose the name Iskwew — which means ‘woman’ in her ancestral Cree language — in celebration of her Indigenous heritage and acknowledge the work of women in the fight for gender equality. Iskwew is based out of YVR (the Vancouver International Airport) and operates a twin engine PA31 Piper Navajo Chieftain called the Sweetgrass Warrior. The Sweetgrass Warrior cruises at 170 kts, has a range of 700 nm, and can carry a total payload of 1600lbs (eight passengers, cargo or a combination). During COVID-19, Fraser and Iskwew Air supplied essential goods to remote Indigenous communities, such as Alert Bay, that were impacted by the pandemic.
Learn more: iskwew.ca
2. Lucky Iron Fish: 2021 Global Entrepreneur of the Year
Location: Guelph, ON
Lucky Iron Fish Enterprise® is a social enterprise on a mission to alleviate iron deficiency around the world, and has already improved the lives of more than 850,000 people. Using a health innovation tool that adds extra iron to daily meals and drinks, it is a simple and affordable solution, especially for those with iron deficiency anemia, and a portion of each sale goes directly towards undernourished local and international communities. Founder Dr. Gavin Armstrong was awarded the prestigious 2016 “30 Under 30” designation from Forbes in the Social Entrepreneur category and the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award by EY Canada in 2017. In 2018, he successfully pitched Lucky Iron Fish Enterprise on CBC’s Dragons Den, where he secured a deal with two dragons. Gavin is the first Canadian to receive the William J. Clinton Award for international work against hunger and is the inaugural recipient of the Michaelle Jean Emergency Hunger Relief Award. Lucky Iron Fish has also won multiple Cannes Lion awards, including the Grand Prix and several Clio Design Awards including the Grand Prix in healthcare. Gavin has also received a Silver Innovation Award from the Edison Foundation.
Learn more: luckyironfish.com
3. RainStick Shower: 2021 Product Innovation of the Year Award
Location: Kelowna, BC
Growing up in part of the Okanagan Desert in Kelowna, B.C., founders Alisha and Sean McFetridge became acutely aware of how showering is both a water and carbon-intensive activity. Inspired by biomimicry, they designed the water-saving RainStick Shower system to dramatically reduce the environmental impact, cutting household emissions by 1,900kg of CO2 annually, while still providing a high-pressure showering experience. Their high-flow shower system saves 80% energy and 80% on water through point-of-use recirculation and filtration. As a result, RainStick Shower users can save $500 to $700 annually, all while reducing their carbon footprint.
Learn more: rainstickshower.com
4. The Yukon Soaps Company: 2021 Indigenous Entrepreneur of the Year
Location: Mayo, YK
Coming from a long line of strong, vibrant Indigenous women, Joella Hogan is a First Nation of Nacho Nyäk Dun, of the crow clan, and the entrepreneur behind The Yukon Soaps Company. Through different lines of hand-crafted soaps, she works to embody elements and special talents of her matriarchs and community: teachers, healers, bush women, social advocates and cultural leaders. She was the founder and leader of the Heritage and Culture Department of the First Nation of Nacho Nyäk Dun for more than a decade and today works as an independent consultant. She is also an active volunteer and Northern community advocate, with leadership roles at organizations including the Stewart Valley Community Market, the Silver Trail Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Association and the Yukon University Mayo Campus Committee.
Learn more: yukonsoaps.com
5. Avana: 2021 Woman Entrepreneur of the Year
Avana President and CEO Jennifer Denouden has seen astronomical growth since founding the Regina-based real estate enterprise in 2014. Ranked Canada’s 10th Fastest-Growing Company on the Canadian Business and Maclean’s 2020 Growth List, Avana has almost doubled its assets under Jennifer’s management in the past six months to nearly $400 million. Differentiated by a purpose-led commitment to community, Avana anticipates significant growth in its affordable housing rentals, projecting $1 billion in assets by 2030. Avana fosters partnerships with local shelters and recently pledged a $2 million donation to help develop the new YWCA Regina Centre for Women and Families. An advocate for women and children escaping domestic violence, Jenn uses her platform to draw awareness to the lack of provincial funding for second-stage shelters in Saskatchewan and privately funds housing opportunities through the Avana Foundation. Jenn is an unapologetic feminist and champion for women in business and is passionate about anti-racism initiatives.
Learn more at: avanabuilds.ca
6. Solid State Community Industries – 2021 Black Entrepreneur of the Year
Location: Surrey, BC
Vanessa Fajemisin is a Co-Director of Solid State Community Industries, a co-op builder that supports its cohorts with training, skill-building, education and employment opportunities. Vanessa is instrumental in running cohorts like a Daily Dose of Blackness, made up of a group of teens producing digital content to draw attention to the experience of Black youth, and Black in School, a cooperative of youth working to erode the basis of white supremacy and anti-Blackness in BC high schools. She also supports a number of other cohorts, including BLAC: the Black Arts Centre. On top of a key leadership role in this full-time job, she is in her final semester of a communications degree from Simon Fraser University, runs her own clothing and design company and writes for VICE and other media publications. Most importantly, Vanessa is a primary caregiver, with her mother, for her live-in grandmother – handling a wide-range of caregiving, cooking, medical and translation tasks. Despite carrying such responsibility, her personality and presence is remarkable: she is upbeat, positive, encouraging and supportive, not to mention a creative and incredibly productive entrepreneur herself. Through her example and leadership, she is building a whole community of young Black entrepreneurs around her.
Learn more: solidstate.coop
7. Green Hope Foundation – 2021 Youth Impact Icon Award
Location: Toronto Ontario
Kehkashan Basu is the Founder/President of global social innovation enterprise Green Hope Foundation, which works at a grassroots level in 25 countries to empower all sectors of civil society, especially its young people. She is the 2016’s International Children’s Peace Prize winner, a Forbes 30 under 30 For Education, a United Nations Human Rights Champion, a National Geographic Young Explorer, a UN Habitat Young City Champion and the youngest ever Global Coordinator for the UN Environment Program’s Major Group for Children & Youth. Kehkashan is also one of Canada’s Top 25 Women of Influence, a member of the World Humanitarian Forum Youth Council and UN Women’s Action Coalition on Feminist Action for Climate Justice, and she has tirelessly worked to amplify the voices of young people, especially women and girls, in decision-making processes. She founded Green Hope in 2012, when she was 12 years old. Under Kehkashan’s strategic leadership, Green Hope has evolved into an international changemaking platform that has directly impacted 142,000+ people. Her book Tree of Hope launched at the 2015 United Nations Children’s Summit in New York City.
Learn more: greenhopefoundation.com
Thank you for your interest!
About The CANIE Awards: Celebrating Innovators & Entrepreneurs with seven award categories in five regions across Canada. The finalists receive up to $10,000 in prizes.
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