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Indigenous Women in Leadership (IWIL) award

About the award

CCAB and LNG Canada are proud to present the Indigenous Women in Leadership award.

The role of Indigenous women in traditional life has long been one of leadership and strength. The tenacity and determination of Indigenous women today stands as a powerful testament to their role in preserving traditions and culture. Indigenous Women in Leadership (IWIL) nominees are leaders and mentors in Indigenous business.  They are politically and nationally engaged businesswomen that have contributed and improved the lives of Indigenous people. Their work has made a difference to their community and/or across the country, empowering others to do the same.

CCAB encourages nominations from all First Nations (Status and Non-Status), Inuit and Métis business, political and nationally engaged women whose work has changed the lives of people in their communities and nationally. Anyone 18 years of age and older is eligible to submit a nomination.

Eligibility Criteria

Nominees have a history of excellence in the conduct of their business, careers, politics and community leadership reflecting their skills, vision, determination and perseverance.  IWIL laureates are distinguished individuals who are well advanced in their successful careers and change-making lives.

Nominees are known for their contributions to the development of their community.  Setting an example for others to follow can be as important as holding a formal leadership position.  Nominees enjoy broad community support because of the impact of their business or life activities.  Nominees are catalysts for change in their community.

Nominees contribute to the expansion of knowledge and capacity.  Embracing new technologies while remaining committed to traditional ways is an important part of sustainable development.  Nominees have the vision to challenge accepted wisdom and move beyond it, and the commitment to give their employees or community meaningful access to training or education opportunities respecting and including traditional knowledge and culture.

Nominees have contributed in a substantive way to the community and/or national well-being. Their results are identifiable and measurable, and could include economic development, employment opportunities, sustained business growth, starting and maintaining new ventures, and creating options for the future.  Accomplishments in business sectors  can include the arts, sports, politics, health, education, etc.

Nominations for 2024 are closed. The award will be presented at the 40th Anniversary Award Gala, May 29, 2024.

Candidates are deemed ineligible if they have an existing formal relationship with CCAB (e.g. Board of Directors, CCAB Staff member, Award Sponsor, etc.)

Past Winners


Rose Paul

From an early age, Rose Paul’s grandparents instilled within her a lifelong commitment to help her Mi’kmaw community grow and prosper. As CEO (Chief Executive Officer) of Bayside Development Corporation, Rose has been the trailblazer for business development, negotiations, and partnerships the business arm of Paqtnkek Mi’kmaw Nation, that commitment has fueled a vision to maximize future employment and business development for Paqtnkek community members.

Rose and her leadership team worked to develop the first ever tripartite agreement with Provincial and Federal governments and was awarded the multi-million-dollar highway interchange site on Exit 38B and with land that the community was separated from a 1960 breach of agreement. With the completion of Phase One, the development of the Bayside Travel Centre, she is now focused on Phase Two of the highway showcase working towards the construction of a new business centre.

Rose has built a strategy for economic strides and developing Strategic Partnerships, reclaiming spaces at decision and planning tables, and creating partnerships Corporately through Economic Reconciliation. An essential element of the community’s long-term economic vision are strategic partnerships with corporate stakeholders, such as industry leader, first of its kind in North American Everwind Fuels. It is an alliance that Paul says will drive them towards ‘energy sovereignty’ and becoming a net zero contributor in the fight against global warning. She is also building business and sector industry partnerships such the space sector, Maritime Launch Services, Signal Gold in the mining industry and Clearwater Seafood.

Generous with her time, Paul has been a speaker at events across Canada and is a volunteer for roundtables that explore the tragedy of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. She is a fluent Mi’kmaw Speaker, a strong advocate for her community and a mother of 8 children and 16 grandchildren who have been her strongest motivators.


Shelly Mandeville

Shelly Mandeville is a CEO and co-founder of three companies (In Synch Consulting Inc., Naoka Inc. and Wildrose Contractor Supports) operating in her home territory, as well as Alberta. Born in the Northwest Territories, Shelley inherited her entrepreneurial spirit from her parents and grandfather who inspired her to advocate for equality for Indigenous entrepreneurs. Throughout her career, Shelly has continued to work with Indigenous communities and advance economic development.

In 2016, she participated, via ministerial appointment on the Climate Change Innovation and Technology Engagement Taskforce, by providing recommendations and advice on how Alberta can support climate change technology objectives. She was instrumental in the creation of Aspiring Women in Leadership and Legacy (AWILL), a non-profit organization that serves to promote equality and facilitates the sharing of wisdom among women leaders in Edmonton and across Alberta. Shelly also created a series of over 140 self-guided lessons designed to raise self-awareness in leadership, offered by the organization and sponsored by her company Naoka Inc.

Shelly was recognized in 2015 with the Aboriginal Woman Entrepreneur Award of Distinction by the Alberta Chambers of Commerce. She shares her acquired business acumen by serving on various boards, including past Chairwoman for Apeetogosan Métis Development Inc., Vice-Chair for the National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association, and Chairwoman of Boyle Street Aboriginal Services. Shelly also served as Vice President of the Alberta Chapter of the Aboriginal Financial Officers Association and as a board member of Boyle Street Community Services.

As one of very few women to lead a 100% Indigenous-owned company in the oil and gas industry, her tenacity and unwavering commitment to the betterment of Indigenous peoples has impacted the lives of communities, individuals, her employees, and her peers. As a survivor of the Indian Residential School System, Shelly’s story serves as an inspiration to others and the endless possibilities that exist for them. She currently resides outside of Edmonton, Alberta and is the mother of two grown daughters and Kokum to two granddaughters.


Chief Tammy Cook-Searson

A member of Lac La Ronge Indian Band (LLRIB), Tammy Cook-Searson was raised on the family trapline near Brabant Lake, Northern Saskatchewan. A fluent Cree speaker, Cook-Searson is exceptionally proud of her First Nations heritage, and is a strong advocate of culture and language, maintaining strong ties to the land. Elected LLRIB Councillor at the age of 25, she served three terms before she was elected as the band’s first female Chief in 2005. Cook-Searson is currently serving her sixth consecutive term.

As Chief of LLRIB, Cook-Searson is President of Kitsaki Management Limited Partnership, which manages the bands economic development activities. The Kitsaki portfolio is diverse, with investments in insurance, engineering, mining, utility project management, environment, hospitality, transportation, and more. Kitsaki is committed to long-term, sustainable business, and continues to develop opportunities that meet the appropriate profitability, risk and employment criteria.

Cook-Searson serves is Board Director with multiple organizations, including: the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority Board, the Northern Inter-Tribal Health Authority, and the Assembly of First Nations. Her role as LLRIB Chief also means she is an active member of the Prince Albert Grand Council and the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations. As a Canadian Ranger with the 4th Canadian Ranger Patrol Group, she assists with search and rescue operations in the region.

Driven by a collective vision of community, Cook-Searson recently played an instrumental role working with others to lobby for the funding to build a Wellness, Treatment and Recovery Centre in La Ronge. This Centre will provide northerners with timely access to mental health and addictions support services, blending therapeutic treatment with traditional Woodland Cree teachings. This $16.1 million project is currently under construction in La Ronge, with completion slated for October 2021.

Cook-Searson is involved in many cultural events and fundraising activities. She leads a healthy lifestyle and is an active member of her community.  Cook-Searson enjoys spending time with family and friends in the bush and on the lake. She loves berry picking, photography, running, and learning new skills.


Dr. Deborah Saucier

Originally from Saskatoon, Dr. Saucier is a proud Métis who is committed to advancing reconciliation on university campuses and in academia. As the president of Vancouver Island University, Dr. Saucier is working toward closing the education gap for Indigenous youth so they may achieve their full potential and strengthen their communities. Previously, she served as president of MacEwan University, where she worked to incorporate UNDRIP and the TRC Calls to Action into institutional decision making. She implemented both policy and physical changes on campus to ensure that Indigenous students saw their heritage reflected in campus spaces.

“A major focus for me as an administrator has been to change the narrative about who goes to university, which helps to move the needle and increase the number of women and Indigenous peoples in leadership positions.” – Dr. Deborah Saucier


Nicole Bourque-Bouchier

A long-time resident of Fort McMurray and a member of the Mikisew Cree First Nation, Nicole Bourque-Bouchier is the Chief Executive Officer and Co-Owner of The Bouchier Group.

With full-time operations commencing in 2004, The Bouchier Group has grown to be a leading provider in integrated site services to the Athabasca Oil Sands region, with over 1000 employees. Work divisions encompassing contracting, site services and engineering, Bouchier’s offering ranges from road maintenance, winter drilling and excavation projects, to building and renovating camps, energy remodeling and construction.

Nicole has served on the boards of numerous non-profit organizations such as the Keyano College Board of Governors and President of the Northeastern Alberta Aboriginal Business Association. She currently sits on the Alberta Apple Schools Foundation and the Indspire Board of Directors.

Nicole has been honored with numerous accolades including the Ernest & Young’s Oil & Gas Entrepreneur of the Year Award, Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women and accepted the MacEwan University 2016 Allard Chair in Business. In 2018, Nicole was the recipient of the Indspire Award for Business & Commerce.


Roberta L. Jamieson, O.C., I.P.C., LL.B., LL.D. (Hon) | President & CEO, Indspire | Executive Producer, Indspire Awards

Roberta Jamieson is a Mohawk woman who has enjoyed a distinguished career of firsts. She was the first First Nation woman in Canada to earn a law degree; the first non-parliamentarian appointed an ex-officio member of a House of Commons Committee; the first woman Ombudsman of Ontario; and the first woman elected Chief of the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory, where she continues to reside with her family. An accomplished expert in alternative dispute resolution, Roberta also served as Commissioner of the Indian Commission of Ontario.

Under Roberta’s leadership, Indspire has flourished. Raising funds from government, corporate and private sectors, Indspire’s annual disbursements of bursaries and scholarships to support Indigenous students in post-secondary education have increased sevenfold. An innovative K-12 Indspire Institute was launched providing support to educators and communities working to improve educational outcomes with culturally grounded curriculum and techniques. Roberta is also the Executive Producer of the annual Indspire Achievement Awards.

Roberta, a long time advocate for greater diversity on corporate boards, is a member of Hydro One’s Board of Directors and  a member of Gender Equality Advisory Council for Canada’s G7 Presidency.

She has earned numerous awards, including, most recently, YWCA’s President’s Award and Women’s Executive Network’s “Canada’s Most Powerful Women” Hall of Fame, as well as 25 honorary degrees. In 2015, Ms. Jamieson was recognized by the Public Policy Forum for the outstanding contributions she has made to the quality of public policy and good governance.

She is an Officer of the Order of Canada.


The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould

The 2017 CCAB Inaugural Indigenous Women in Leadership (IWIL) Recipient is The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, P.C., Q.C., M.P. Minister of Justice, Attorney General of Canada and Member of Parliament for Vancouver Granville. She is a lawyer, advocate, and former Regional Chief of the BC Assembly of First Nations.

Called to the BC Bar in 2000, Jody Wilson-Raybould began her legal career as a provincial crown prosecutor in Vancouver and later served as an advisor at the BC Treaty Commission. In 2004, she was elected as Commissioner by the Chiefs of the First Nations Summit. Minister Wilson-Raybould was elected Regional Chief of the BC Assembly of First Nations in 2009 and re-elected in 2012. After being elected as the Member of Parliament for Vancouver Granville in 2015, Minister Wilson-Raybould was appointed Minister of Justice and Attorney General on November 4, 2015.

Minister Wilson-Raybould is a descendant of the Musgamagw Tsawataineuk and Laich-Kwil-Tach peoples, who are part of the Kwakwaka’wakw and also known as the Kwak’wala speaking peoples. She is a member of the We Wai Kai Nation and is married to Dr. Tim Raybould.


 Award Sponsor