Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business announces the recipients of the 2023 Business Lifetime Achievement Award

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Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business announces the recipients of the 2023 Business Lifetime Achievement Award and the Young Aboriginal Entrepreneur Award

TORONTO – The Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB) plans celebration to honour Dawn Madahbee Leach as the 2023 Business Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, and Lesley Hampton, as the recipient of the Young Aboriginal Entrepreneur Award.

Recognizing their contributions to the Indigenous economy at different stages in their careers, both are to be honoured and celebrated at an Awards Dinner following CCAB’s Central Business Forum on February 7th at the Marriott Toronto Eaton Centre. ESS Support Services Worldwide is the Award Sponsor for both national awards and Bruce Power is the Lead Sponsor for the Central Business Forum.

“I am looking forward to our event on February 7th to celebrate two exemplary and inspiring Indigenous women,” said Tabatha Bull, President & CEO, Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business. “Over the span of her career, Dawn Madahbee Leach continues to make significant contributions toward Indigenous economic development and demonstrates lifelong leadership. Lesley Hampton, an up-and-coming icon as an artist and fashion designer, continues her activism in the fashion industry and serves as an inspiration to other young Indigenous entrepreneurs.”

CCAB’s Business Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to a First Nations, Inuit, or Métis person whose business leadership has made a substantive contribution to the economic and social well-being of Indigenous people. The jury’s unanimous decision to recognize Dawn Madahbee Leach, a respected international Indigenous business leader with CCAB’s national award.

Through her work with the National Indigenous Economic Development Board, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, and Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, she continues to be integral to Indigenous economic development in Canada.

She has a deep connection to her routes as an Anishinabe Kwe from the Aundeck Omni Kaning and Whitefish River First Nations, as she continues to be a part of the development of Indigenous strategies in multiple sectors, regionally. She is also notably one of the key leaders in the 2022 National Indigenous Economy Strategy, developing 107 calls to action that lead to economic prosperity for all Canadians.

Her longstanding career has allowed her to have a deep understanding of the challenges that Indigenous businesses and communities face, and how to develop strategies for long term success. As general manager of Waubetek Business Development Corporation, she has been responsible for more than $110 million in financing and funding to 27 First Nation communities.

“This Lifetime Achievement Award from Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business is humbly accepted on behalf of all who have guided, supported and encouraged me on my life’s journey to be brave, to work hard, and to bring about positive change,” says Dawn Madahbee Leach. “I am extremely grateful to have among my teachers many inspirational Indigenous leaders from within our communities, in business, in national organizations, and around the world who share a vision of prosperity for our people.”

“ESS is proud to sponsor the Aboriginal Business Lifetime Achievement Award; I send my congratulations to Dawn Madahbee Leach for her dedication to advancing economic development in Indigenous communities across Canada and around the world.  Dawn’s lifetime commitment has had a tremendous impact on all who she’s encountered; community leaders, young women and men with whom she has worked, students, business owners, elders and leaders.” said Johanne Belanger, president, ESS North America. “Dawn is a lifelong leader and trail blazer in Aboriginal economic development.”

The Young Aboriginal Entrepreneur award recognizes the young business leaders of today who are driving the Indigenous economy forward. Lesley Hampton, an inspirational business owner and young Indigenous leader, continues to make her mark and the well-deserved recipient of this awardAn Anishnaabe kwe from Temagami First Nation, fashion designer and artist Lesley Hampton represents authentic Indigenous representation in the fashion industry through storytelling on the runway and steering away from typical fashion norms. Her business is 100 per cent Indigenous-owned, with a strong advocacy for size-inclusive clothing, mental health awareness, and body positivity.

Lesley Hampton designs have been seen through Vogue, Buzzfeed, and worn by various artists and actresses at award shows such as the 2021 Emmy Awards, 2020 Golden Globes, 2022 Juno Awards, 2022 Toronto International Film Festival, and Vancouver International Film Festival. She is a laureate of the 2021 Indspire Youth Award, 2021 Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards Fashion Impact Award, and 2021 Fashion Group International Toronto Visionary Award. As she continues to be successful in the Canadian market, she is growing internationally, with clients through direct sales and e-commerce sales. As Lesley Hampton’s business and brand continue to grow Indigenous representation increases in the fashion industry.

“I’m so honoured to be the recipient of the Young Entrepreneur Award and thankful to the CCAB for this recognition; to follow the footsteps of so many incredible young leaders. I dedicate this award to my community and my team who empower and inspire me daily,” says Lesley Hampton.

“ESS is proud to sponsor the Young Aboriginal Entrepreneur Award; my sincere congratulations go out to Lesley Hampton for raising the profile on mental health awareness, body positivity and authentic representation in fashion, media and beauty,” said Johanne Belanger, president, ESS North America. “Lesley is an important voice in the Canadian fashion landscape and her work is building a more inclusive tomorrow.”

CCAB is thrilled to be kicking off the first event of the year in Toronto at the Central Business Forum and Awards Dinner, sponsored by Bruce Power, on February 7th at the Marriott Toronto Eaton Centre. CCAB events focus on connecting people and businesses to innovate, learn, engage in discussions, pursue partnerships, make connections, and celebrate success. Early bird tickets go on sale Monday, December 5th!

For event tickets and information go to

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