Mark Perry and band provided music for the half-time show. (Marisca Bakker photo)

Bulkley Valley Credit Union named Business of the Year

Awards gala sets new attendance record

The Bulkley Valley Credit Union was named Business of the Year at the annual Smithers District Chamber of Commerce Community and Business Awards gala Nov. 16.

Winners were determined by a vote of chamber members.

The other top award, Business Person of the Year went to Avi Ranjan, owner of Subway.

The gala itself was a record breaking night for the chamber.

The event, dubbed the “Blue Carpet Gala” saw more people attend than ever before and the chamber received more nominations for awards than they ever have.

Chamber manager Sheena Miller was happy with how the evening turned out and pleasantly surprised with how many younger faces were in attendance. She said more than 200 people showed up. Last year, 140 attended.

“The gala has never seen more than 150 people before,” she said.

Chamber board President Greg Wacholtz said they also had a record number of nominations. There were more than 100 hundred nominations and Wacholtz said it was very difficult for the chamber to narrow it down.

Aside from the awards, the evening also featured silent and live auctions, a halftime show with Mark Perry and band, prizes for best dressed and best dance moves and the evening ended with a DJ Dance and glow stick party.

There were 12 awards presented and three special awards.

The Major Contributor to Arts and Culture went to Dolly Alfred for her Witsuwit’en Wednesday, a Facebook page dedicated to the revitalization of the Witsuwit’en language. Every week she shares a word and its translation from her traditional language.

“I’m excited, bubbly and so overwhelmed,” Alfred said after winning the award. “When they called my name, it took a second for it to sink in.The most important reason I started doing this is to reach as many people to teach them the richness and beauty of the language and culture, especially people who are away from Witset and not surrounded by fluent speakers to teach them.”

The Young Entrepreneur of the Year was handed to Jennah Gainer of Telly’s Grill. She co-owns the restaurant with her husband and runs the front end.

Gainer said she was very humbled to win.

“Everyday motivates you to do things differently, you learn so much dealing with different people and customers and having your staff, it is a constant learning experience,” she said. “We’ve been open for two years and you can just hope to get better all the time.”


Home-based Business of the Year:

Rustica Wood Fired Bakery

Family Friendly Business of the Year: Bulkley Valley Bright Beginnings

Environmental Business of the Year: Nature’s Pantry

Citizen/Volunteer of the Year: Mark deHoog

Public Service Excellence: Smithers Fire Rescue

Tourism Excellence: Smithers Brewing Company

Customer Service Excellence for an Individual: Duane de Vries of Bulkley Valley Credit Union

Customer Service Excellence for a Business: Bulkley Valley Wholesale.


The crowd dances to Mark Perry and band during a break in the awards ceremony. (Marisca Bakker photo)

Grant Harris of the Interior News presents the award for Best Business of the Year to Bulkley Valley Credit Union. (Marisca Bakker photo)

Chamber board member Brian Atherton dances with his wife, Carla Atherton who was nominated for Home Based Business of the Year for her yoga studio. (Marisca Bakker photo)

Dolly Alfred celebrates winning the Major Contributor to Arts and Culture award at the Smithers District Chamber of Commerce awards gala. (Facebook photo)

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