Awarding Excellence in Aboriginal Business Leadership
Covert Logistics and Voilà par Andréanne received Excellence in Aboriginal Business Leadership Awards (EABLA) on October 13 at RBC Convention Centre Winnipeg. The event is hosted by Aboriginal Business Education Partners (ABEP), a community of First Nations, Métis and Inuit students pursuing Bachelor of Commerce (Honours) degrees at the University of Manitoba’s Asper School of Business.
Covert Logistics, a locally-owned and rapidly growing transportation company, received the Excellence in Aboriginal Business Leadership Award. Founded by Caralyn and Robert Rabichuk in 2002, Covert started as a humble one-truck transportation company that has since grown into a multi-million dollar enterprise with over 60 pieces of equipment.
Caralyn is a member of the Métis nation and provides operational oversight to the company. Robert, a 2002 graduate from the Asper School of Business, says his business education has provided him with the requisite knowledge to become Covert’s logistics expert.
“Having our business acknowledged by such a prestigious award is an honour,” says Caralyn. “Being entrepreneurs can be a thankless job, but we have a passion for what we do that drives us to work harder and longer than most in order for our business to succeed. It’s great to hear from someone else that our hard work is paying off. This award has motivated Rob and I to continue to strive for even greater things at Covert Logistics. It has given us a renewed sense of pride that pushes us to continue to grow.”
Voilà par Andréanne, a Métis-owned and inspired clothing design company, received the Excellence in Aboriginal Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Award. Andréanne Dandeneau, a fashion design graduate of Montreal’s LaSalle College, has designed and manufactured her own clothing line for 12 years.
“I am incredibly proud of this recognition because it validates how I wanted to build Voilà from the start – a proudly Métis business that honours tradition while also promoting the innovative capacity of our Indigenous community,” says Andréanne Dandeneau, owner of Voilà par Andréanne. “Being a proud Métis woman has always been a big part of my life. I was beyond fortunate to have had parents that instilled in me the importance of knowing our family roots and knowing exactly where we came from. I can still remember so many family trips where my parents would take us to places to discover and learn all we could about our heritage and to become connected to our ancestors. It was on these remarkable trips where I would see the beautiful symbols of my Métis heritage and would later go on to use as my inspiration in my designs.”
At the forefront of the slow fashion movement, Dandeneau has never strayed from her emphasis on sustainability and quality. Voilà’s manufacturing employs sustainable materials produced at a Canadian knitting mill certified by Free the Children.
Now in its twelfth year, the EABLA gala is one of Manitoba’s most prestigious events for honouring Aboriginal business leaders.
ABEP Director Peter Pomart says, “This year’s gala was a tremendous success. The award recipients serve as fine examples of how our Indigenous community members can make significant contributions to the Manitoba economy while staying true to their values and heritage. I am deeply honoured that many leading companies and organizations support this event year after year because of the direct benefit it provides to Indigenous students at the Asper School of Business.”
More than 240 guests attended the event, including 25 students and 16 alumni. University of Manitoba Elders in Residence Norman Meade and Marlene Keaseas led the Grand Entry. Minister Cliff Cullen (Growth, Enterprise and Trade) brought greetings on behalf of the Province of Manitoba. He was joined by Assistant Deputy Minister Jamie Wilson.
One hundred per cent of event proceeds provide direct benefit to Indigenous students enrolled at the Asper School of Business through scholarships and initiatives. At a VIP reception, ABEP also recognized four student members who received scholarships from EABLA partners and sponsors:
- Kieran Saindon (MTS Future First Scholarship in Aboriginal Business Education)
- Dylan Allary (RBC Awards in Indigenous Business Education – Undergraduate Scholarship)
- Michael Teichrieb (RBC Awards in Indigenous Business Education – Undergraduate Scholarship)
- Skye Villamil (RBC Awards in Indigenous Business Education – MBA Entrance Scholarship)