Aboriginal Business Hall of Fame (ABHF) Lifetime Achievement Award

About the Award

Champions of Aboriginal business exist across the country, but only a small percentage of individuals devote their lifetime to furthering the Aboriginal economy.

Aboriginal persons whose business leadership has made a substantive contribution to the economic and social well-being of Aboriginal people over a lifetime are eligible for the Aboriginal Hall of Fame Lifetime Achievement Award (ABHF).

Presented at the 20th Annual Toronto Gala, January 31, 2018

Nomination deadline: September 15, 2017

Nomination Form or Eligibility Criteria

The nominations for the 2017 ABHF Lifetime Achievement Award are now open. If you know a First Nations (Status or Non-Status), Inuit or Métis business person deserving of this award fill out the form below.

Nominate the next Lifetime Achievement Award Winner

Most Recent Winner



Dr. Herbert Belcourt

Respected Métis entrepreneur Herb Belcourt is the founder of several businesses including Belcourt Construction started in 1965, the third largest power-line company in Alberta that employed 265 in the field.  He is author of Walking In The Woods: A Métis Journey  Published October 2006 by Brindle & Glass which topped the best seller list and was nominated for the Wilfred Eggleston Award for Non-Fiction 2007 Alberta Literary Competition.

In 1971 Herb co-founded non-profit Canative Housing Corporation that rented to Métis people in Edmonton and Calgary, started  an Urban skills program in Edmonton for tenants, developed a Day Care Centre for their children– working in cooperation with preventive social services– and bought a bus for transporting women and children to these programs.  Herb actively worked as operations manager from 1991 to 2004. In 2006 he received the National Aboriginal Achievements Award for Housing.

In 2001 Herb with two fellow co-founders formed Belcourt Brosseau Métis Awards a $13- million endowment with a mandate to support Métis students pursuing further education. To date  $17-million is in the endowment, and over 15 years $6- million has been given away to over 1,000 students in over 200 programs in every institution in Alberta.

Herb’s accolades include an Honourary Doctorate of Laws (University of Alberta, 2001), The Order of Athabasca University (2006), Investiture as a Member of the Order of Canada (2010) and an Honorary Diploma from NorQuest College (2014).

Past Winners



Chief Darcy Bear

Chief Bear has been widely-recognized for his economic, business and cultural achievements. He was a recipient of the Commemorative Medal for the Centennial of Saskatchewan in 2005, he was named one of the “Ten Most Influential People” by Saskatchewan Business Magazine and was awarded the CANDO “Economic Developer of the Year” in 2006.In 2009, the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations awarded Chief Bear the Circle of Honour Award for Community-Based First Nation  Business. In December 2011, Chief Bear received the Saskatchewan Order of Merit, the highest recognition given to residents  of the province. On January 25, 2012, Whitecap Dakota First Nation signed the Framework Agreement for Self Governance,  which kick-started Whitecap’s journey towards self-governance. On May 23, 2012, Chief Bear was honoured with the  prestigious Diamond Jubilee Medal, reflecting his commitment to service. In 2013, he was named an Inaugural Grandey  Leadership Honouree, and the City of Saskatoon also bestowed a municipal park in his honour. The 2014 Throne Speech in  the provincial Legislature recognized Chief Bear’s “progressive leadership.” Most recently, he was the recipient of an  Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from the University of Saskatchewan in the fall of 2014. Chief Bear was instrumental in developing a self-governing Land Code, which created a business-friendly environment on Whitecap lands, complete with a land tenure system, commercial infrastructure and a real-property tax law. Whitecap now serves as a national example of positive community development and heightened self-determination. To date there has been approximately $100 million in capital investment in the community and an unemployment rate reduction from 70 per cent to 5 per cent.



Mel E. Benson

Mel is president of Mel E. Benson Management Services Inc. a consulting firm working in various countries with a focus on First Nations/Corporate negotiations. Mel is also part owner of the private oil & gas company Tenax Energy Inc.

Retired from Exxon International, Mel has been a director of Suncor Energy since 2000, serving on the compensation and environment, health and safety committees. Mel also sits as a Director of the Fort McKay Group of Companies and as a Director of Oilstone Energy Services, based in the USA.

A member of several charitable organizations, Mel prides himself on being active in his community. He’s taken numerous leadership positions in this capacity, most recently being appointed to the advisory council for the Alberta Land Institute through the University of Alberta.

Mel is a member of Beaver Lake Cree Nation, located in northeastern Alberta.

Watch the Mel E. Benson vignette below:


William MacLeod

From the Cree Nation of Mistissini, Quebec, former President and CEO of Cree Construction and Development Company.


Jim Thunder

While leading his community of Buffalo Point First Nation as hereditary Chief for 30 years, Thunder transformed an empty land into a world-class vacation destination.

C.T. (Manny) Jules

Chief Commissioner and CEO of the First Nations Tax Commission.


Gregory Koostachin

An entrepreneur with 35 years of business leadership in his community Attawapiskat First Nation in northern Ontario.

Dave Tuccaro

Founder, President and CEO of Tuccaro Group of Companies.


Chief Clarence Louie

Elected Chief of the Osoyoos Indian Band since 1985 and employer of hundreds of people at Band owned businesses.

Ruth Williams

CEO of All Nations Trust Company (ANTCO) and has a 25 year history of leadership in social and economic development in the Aboriginal community.


Pita Aatami

President of Makivik Corporation and Chairman of First Air and Director of Air Inuit, both subsidiaries of the Makivik Corporation.

Mervin Dewasha

CEO of Neegan Burnside, an Aboriginal owned engineering firm and has been a leader in encouraging Aboriginal youth to pursue careers in science and engineering.


Jim Boucher

Chief of Fort McKay First Nation and Chairman of the Board of the Fort McKay Group of Companies.

Judith Sayers

Former Chief of the Hupacasath First Nation and current Co-Chair of the Island Corridor Foundation.


Nellie Cournoyea

Chair and CEO of the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation (IRC) and is a former Premier of the Northwest Territories.

Ron Jamieson

a Mohawk from Six Nations, Ontario, and former Senior Vice President of Aboriginal Banking at the Bank of Montreal.


Victor Buffalo

A Cree from Samson Cree First Nation, business leader and entrepreneur.

Harry Cook

Former Chief of Saskatchewan’s Lac La Range Indian Band First Nation, who oversaw the exceptional success of Kitsaki Development Corporation.

Garfield Flowers

An Inuk from Hopedale, Newfoundland and Labrador.


Fred Carmichael

A Gwich’in from the Northwest Territories and Aboriginal aviation pioneer.

The late Suzanne Rochon-Burnett

A Métis from Ontario who founded the first Aboriginal owned radio station.


The late Dr. Billy “Chief’ Diamond

A northern Quebec Cree, and founder of Air Creebec.

Irvin Goodon

A Métis from Boissevain, Manitoba and founder of Canada’s largest post frame construction company.