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The Duncan Cowichan Chamber of Commerce held its Black Tie Awards ceremony Tuesday night, celebrating business excellence and volunteerism in the Cowichan Valley. The ceremony, held at the Chemainus Theatre, was a night of glamour and excitement as the community came together to celebrate Cowichan’s best.

In the category of CUSTOMER SERVICE, Island Savings recognized the outstanding service of individuals from local businesses. The winner is Mark Paetz of Mark’s Instant Sign Shop, whose dedication to providing exceptional customer service over 30 years in business was recognized by the judges.

The VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR award, presented by Peninsula Co-op, was a fiercely contested category, with three deserving finalists. Ultimately, the winner is Tony Owen from Cowichan Bay Marina, whose tireless efforts in the community truly set them apart. Tony’s heartfelt acceptance was felt by all.

The YOUNG ENTREPRENEUR award, presented by Coastal Community Credit Union, celebrated the next generation of business leaders. The winner is Travis Berthiaume of Oodyoos Pet Store whose passion and determination are truly impressive.

In the category of GREEN BUSINESS, Economic Development Cowichan recognized businesses whose sustainable practices are making a difference in the community. The winner is Duncan Paving, whose commitment to sustainability through their deliberate minimizing of their environmental footprint is an inspiration to others.

The ART IN BUSINESS award, presented by Live Edge Design, highlighted the creativity and success of an organization in the visual, performing, or digital arts. The winner is Duncan Cowichan Festival Society, with Longevity John Falkner at the helm whose dedication to the local music scene is unrivalled.

In the category of BUSINESS ACHIEVEMENT 1-5 EMPLOYEES, Westland Insurance recognized the hard work and dedication of small businesses. The winner is NTL Excavating Ltd., whose focus has been on both growing their business and giving back to the community.

BUSINESS ACHIEVEMENT 6-19 EMPLOYEES, presented by Nanaimo Airport, was a highly competitive category, with strong finalists. The winner is Yeshi Foods Inc., whose success and growth are a testament to their hard work and vision. Yeshi started at the Old Farm Market and are now stocked in 700 stores across Canada.

The award for BUSINESS ACHIEVEMENT 20+ EMPLOYEES, presented by Grant Thornton LLP, recognized the contributions of larger businesses in the Cowichan Valley. The winner is Craig Street Brewing Company, whose success and leadership from Lance and Liz Stewart have helped them navigate the pandemic and still give so much to the community.

In the category of NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION, Cowichan Green Community recognized the vital work of three organizations. They are all unique with clear, positive outcomes. The all had organizational challenges and they all adapted and pivoted amazingly during these last few difficult years. The contributions of all the finalists were so impressive, the decision was made to acknowledge them all! And so, the winners are Clement Centre for Families, Nourish Cowichan, and Providence Farm whose tireless dedication to creating better community for everyone has made them stand out equally to the judges.

And finally, we proudly announced Denise McKinlay as the winner of the 2022 Lifetime Achievement Award. This amazing individual has been contributing to the Cowichan Region since the 1960s, dedicating her time and expertise to numerous organizations, including the Cowichan District Hospital Foundation, where she has served for over three decades. Her efforts have helped raise millions of dollars to support improved healthcare in the Cowichan Valley. With previous awards such as the Queen's Golden Jubilee Commemorative Medal and the City of Duncan Scroll of Honor, Denise is a true inspiration. Congratulations, Denise McKinlay, we are lucky to have you!

The Duncan Cowichan Chamber of Commerce congratulates all the winners and finalists of the 2023 Black Tie Awards, and thanks all the sponsors and volunteers who made the evening possible. We look forward to continuing to celebrate the excellence of our local businesses and community members in the years to come.

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