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Northern economic developer will get lifetime achievement nod

Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business to honour Dawn Madahbee Leach in new year
Dawn Madahbee Leach is the long-time general manager of the Waubetek Business Development Corporation in Whitefish River First Nation.

Dawn Madahbee Leach, the long-time general manager at the Waubetek Business Development Corp., is being celebrated for her body of work in economic development in the North.

In February, Madahbee Leach will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Canadian Council of Aboriginal Business (CCAB), during the organization’s Central Business Forum and Awards Dinner, scheduled to take place on Feb. 7 in Toronto.

The 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.

According to the CCAB, the jury’s decision to select Madahbee Leach for the award was unanimous.

“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,” Madahbee Leach said in a Dec. 5 news release.

“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.”

Madahbee Leach has roots in the Aundeck Omni Kaning and Whitefish River First Nations, situated along the North Shore of Lake Huron.

She's served as general manager at Waubetek since 1988. The organization provides financing and other resources to Indigenous business owners starting or expanding their businesses.

Under her leadership, Waubetek has provided financing of more than $110 million and funding to 27 First Nation communities.

In addition, Madahbee Leach has contributed her expertise to a number of related organizations, including the National Indigenous Economic Development Board, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, and Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Madahbee Leach is also one of the key leaders in the 2022 National Indigenous Economy Strategy, which is developing 107 calls to action that lead to economic prosperity for all Canadians.

In 2018, Madahbee Leach was named one of Canada’s Most Powerful Women, and a year later received the Governor General’s Meritorious Service Cross.

The CCAB will also recognize Toronto-based fashion designer and artist Lesley Hamptom, a member of the Temagami First Nation, with the Young Aboriginal Entrepreneur Award.

That award goes to a young business leader who is driving the Indigenous economy forward.

Hampton’s business is 100 per cent Indigenous-owned, with a strong advocacy for size-inclusive clothing, mental health awareness, and body positivity.

The CCAB is a national advocacy group dedicated to promoting, strengthening and enhancing a prosperous Indigenous economy through the fostering of business relationships, opportunities, and awareness.