Honours add up for Osoyoos chief

Clarence Louie earns 2011 B.C. Aboriginal Business Award for Individual Achievement

Already the recipient of many awards, Chief Clarence Louie of the Osoyoos Indian Band is going to be adding yet another business honour to the band’s mantelpiece next month.

Keith Mitchell, chair of the BC Achievement Foundation, announced this week that Louie is the recipient of the 2011 B.C. Aboriginal Business Award for Individual Achievement.

“Chief Clarence Louie is a leader with a vision”, said Mitchell. “He has dedicated his life to building economic self-sufficiency for the OIB by creating employment opportunities for present and future generations.”

Louie was elected chief of the Osoyoos Indian Band in 1985 at the age of 25. Under his leadership, the band has built a multi-faceted development corporation that owns and manages nine businesses, including Nk’Mip Cellars, the first Aboriginal winery in North America, and most recently the Senkulmen Business Park near Oliver.

It’s a project that Louie said will take the band into the next stage of its development and attract businesses to the area.

“Over the last number of years, we have had many businesses approach us about leasing land … but we didn’t have the infrastructure. We didn’t have land that was serviced and ready for leasing,” said Louie.

The band’s prosperity and success is the result of a long history of economic planning, according to Louie. The band’s first business started in the ‘60s, as did their first leasing agreement, for the Cherryville golf course.

It’s not the first time Louie has received high recognition for his efforts. In 2003 he was named as one of the top 50 Canadians to watch by MacLean’s Magazine, and in 2009 he received Ernest & Young’s Social Entrepreneur award.

Louie will receive this latest honour on Dec. 1 at a gala presentation ceremony at the Hyatt Regency in Vancouver.