It’s well-deserved recognition for the entire Tsawwassen Shuttles Inc. (TSI) team and everyone who has supported them over the years, says President and CEO Steven (Slə́qsit) Stark.
Following a nomination process, the B.C. Achievement Foundation, whose mission is to honour excellence and inspire achievement, announced TSI had received the “Indigenous Business of the Year – 11+ person enterprise” award.
“[This award], it’s a testament of everybody’s involvement throughout the whole process for the last 10 years or so ... To me, it wasn’t an award for me, it was an award for everybody else and my community. This is the first time that it’s ever happened in Tsawwassen First Nation,” says Stark.
And it won’t be the last time either, he assures.
“We have entrepreneurs that are trying to get into business. We have a treaty that we signed that allowed Tsawwassen First Nation to develop its land and, hopefully, members then could create opportunities for themselves for longevity while the municipality and the self-governing Nation develops its land,” says Stark.
TSI started out as Stark Transportation in 2011 and initially offered marine services for environmental and fisheries research, but has since evolved to offer shuttle, marine, sweeping and watering services.
He credits the business’ success to everyone who has supported him and TSI over the years, and gives special thanks to TFN Chief Ken Baird.
“At the age of 15-years-old, I was introduced to hard drugs and I lived on the streets from 16 to 26-years-old, on and off, and I came back to Tsawwassen First Nation to get sober within my community ... I had a lot of support within Tsawwassen First Nation. Chief Ken Baird allowed me to live with him in early sobriety for about five years,” said Stark in the award recognition video on the B.C. Achievement Foundation’s website.
“I think that was the foundation of me being able to get enough clean time and sober time underneath me to positively change my life and keep working at what I’m doing.”
To other folks who may be on the entrepreneurial path, Stark encourages them to be persistent and to ask for the opportunity and space to showcase what you can do.
The B.C. Achievement Foundation celebrates the spirit of excellence and honours the best of the province through its award programs, which “pay tribute to exceptional people doing exceptional work,” reads their website.
The foundation has five different award programs, including the Community awards, the Indigenous Business Awards, the Fulmer First Nations Art awards, the Carter Wosk Applied Art + Design Awards and the British Columbia Reconciliation Awards.