One person and a gallery from the Comox Valley received two awards recently as the Aboriginal Tourism Association of B.C. recognized outstanding achievements of aboriginal businesses and industry partners in seven categories.
K’ómoks band members Ramona Johnson — on behalf of the band-owned I-Hos Gallery — and artist Andy Everson, earned awards.
Johnson, manager of the I-Hos Gallery since its inception nearly 18 years ago, was awarded the Retail Award as an aboriginal businessperson who has shown success and innovation in the operation of the gallery, offering guests a variety of unique and traditional gifts.
Johnson and I-Hos were recognized for promoting cultural appreciation and understanding through representing authentic aboriginal arts and artists in a retail gallery.
Johnson noted, “This is a recognition for all those years of hard work that has put I-Hos in the spotlight. Our gallery team views each and every customer as a life-long customer; we concentrate on people in our expanded Comox Valley community.
“Partnering with AtBC has increased our visibility as we’ve reached new heights in our goals.”
Recognized as a cultural spokesperson and leader in the Comox Valley, well-known graphic artist Andy Nagedzi Everson received the Artist and Entertainment Award to recognize his extensive contributions as an aboriginal artist.
Everson, though his contemporary interpretations of Northwest Coast First Nations imagery, song and dance, was acknowledged for providing better understanding of K’ómoks culture, language, tradition and history.
He is known for his performances with the Le-La-La, Gwa’wina and Kumugwe Dance groups as well as for his extensive limited edition fine art prints.
At the awards ceremony, Everson thanked his family for supporting him for the time he spends away from home for cultural events. He also expressed how much he loves and enjoys showcasing his culture and sharing it with others.
Welcomed to the territory of the Okanagan Nation by Chief Clarence Louie, the conference organizers presented an engraved crystal trophy vase to award recipients.
The prestigious awards, presented at an exclusive National Aboriginal Tourism Opportunities Conference at Spirit Ridge Vineyard Resort and Spa in Osoyoos, were created to raise awareness about the ever-growing aboriginal tourism industry in B.C.
Keith Henry, CEO of AtBC, commented, “These awards recognize the significant efforts and achievements of B.C.’s aboriginal cultural tourism operators. By honouring the leaders in our industry, we aim to inspire others to continue to provide exceptional and authentic Aboriginal tourism experiences across Canada. I would like to extend congratulations to this year’s winners and thank them for their commitment to excellence.”
— Aboriginal Tourism Association of B.C.