Hesquiaht First Nation member wins national award for her Indigenous economic efforts

Sam Laskaris, July 4, 2018

Carol Anne Hilton is the 2018 recipient of the Award of Excellence in Aboriginal Relations, which is handed out by the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business. (Salish Eye Productions photo)

Victoria, BC — 

A Hesquiaht First Nation member has won a national award for her efforts to boost Indigenous economies across Canada.

It was announced in the last week of June that Carol Anne Hilton is the 2018 recipient of the Award of Excellence in Aboriginal Relations, which is handed out by the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB).

“It’s a huge honour to win,” Hilton said. “It’s a highly prestigious award. And it’s a reflection I’ve worked really hard.”

The CCAB is a national association which supports both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal companies through various programs and resources.

Hilton was born in Mission, B.C. but grew up primarily in Chemainus. She now lives in Victoria but is a member of the Hesquiaht First Nation via her late mother Cecilia.

She was honoured by the CCAB in large part because she is the founder and CEO of The Indigenomics Institute, whose aim is to develop and also help Indigenous economies thrive. Hilton is thrilled her work is helping Indigenous people.

“That means everything to me,” she said. “Our people have gone through so much. And economic development is a pathway forward.”

Hilton had been developing the Indigenomics Institute concept the past five years. It was completed this past February. She founded the platform to serve as an Indigenous economy advisory group for government, the private sector and Indigenous communities.

The platform focusses on four core areas deemed essential to not only overcome Indigenous economic barriers but to also address challenges. This is accomplished not only through education and training but also via partnership development. The Indigenomics Institute also provides a platform for dialogue leading to Indigenous economic solutions and also assists in formulating economic policy, research, analysis and planning.

JP Gladu, the president and CEO of the CCAB, believes Hilton is a rather deserving recipient of the award.

“Carol Anne Hilton is a one-of-a-kind generational thinker who is changing the narrative around what Indigenous economies entail, what an Indigenous world view means and how this wisdom can be applied to strengthen local and national economies,” he said in a news release. “Her counsel related to Indigenous economic inclusion and empowerment is regularly sought after by government policy makers and Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal business leaders. Carol Anne is a true change maker whose legacy will be felt for generations.”

Hesquiaht First Nation Chief Richard Lucas also speaks highly of Hilton.

“We’re proud of her accomplishments and the fact she got this award,” he said. “It’s great for us and something we need to be proud of.”

Lucas is also related to Hilton. Her late mother and Lucas were cousins. Lucas said he knew Hilton was capable of accomplishing great things when she concentrated on furthering her academic career.

“When she was continuing to go to school we knew her education was important,” he said. “Of course our tribe supported that.”

Hilton earned a Bachelor of Arts degree after completing her First Nation Studies program at Vancouver Island University. She also earned an Intercultural Education and Training diploma through the University of Victoria. And she completed her MBA in Business Administration through England’s University of Hertfordshire.

Hilton is also the only Indigenous individual on the 12-member Canadian Economic Growth Council, which has been in existence for a couple of years. And for the past two years she has also been a senior advisor for Canada’s finance minister Bill Morneau.

Hilton’s work, however, is far from complete. She’s hoping to play a key role in growing Canada’s Indigenous economy from $32 billion annually to $100 billion within five years.

Hilton established the Indigenomics Series which details the growth of the Aboriginal economy through interviews with Aboriginal business leaders and other prominent Canadian executives.

Hilton is also an author as she wrote a book titled Indigenomics – The Global Power Shift.