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CAMSC 2008 Business Achievement Awards

The annual Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Supplier Council – CAMSC – Business Achievement Awards Gala was held on October 15th last at the Fairmont Royal York in Toronto. CBC Newsworld anchor and host of the program Absolutely Canadian ?Carla Robinson emceed a packed house of corporate supporters, government officials and Aboriginal and Minority suppliers in attendance.

Ontario Minister of Small Business, Harinder Takhar was the keynote speaker, and in his address he reemphasized the important contribution that small businesses make to the province. Minister Takhar complimented CAMSC for the work they are doing in linking Aboriginal and Minority businesses to private sector procurement opportunities and he indicated that the ministry would support CAMSC in its mission.

A key feature of the gala is an Aboriginal and Minority art showcase, curated by the Craig Scott Gallery. Great admiration and appreciation was expressed by the audience for the many talented Aborginal and Minority artists from across Canada whose work was displayed. To view art displayed, visit:

A special thanks to our Supplier of the Year Award sponsor Cisco, our reception sponsor Corporate Express a Staples Company, gold sponsors Alcatel-Lucent, Chrysler, Dell, Grand & Toy, Kraft, and Office Depot, and our many silver sponsors who made this celebration possible.

Supplier of the Year: Champion Products

Awarded to the year’s outstanding Aboriginal or Minority-owned business, based on growth and development, export sales growth, and major accomplishment during the previous year.

Over the last 17 years Champion Products has grown from a simple business selling shopping bags to local supermarkets to a diversified product manufacturer and distributor selling more than 6,000 products to customers in Canada and the United States. Revenue has grown to $21 million annually, and export sales have increased to 20% of revenue.

Champion is an innovative company committed to manufacturing and sourcing green products. Recently the company secured a major contract to supply biodegradable EcoLog certified bags to a Canadian supermarket chain on a national basis. Leveraging its cultural familiarity with other international markets, Champion has made a major investment in Dubai and hopes to use it as a springboard to realize market opportunities in the Middle East. The company has made significant investments in technology offering online purchasing capabilities to volume customers.

Champion Products is located in Windsor, Ontario and employs 65 people. For more information, visit:

Small Business of the Year: Little Miss Chief

Awarded to an Aboriginal or Minority owned business with 20 or fewer employees, the small business award goes to a company with impact ? in sales growth, in exporting or as an industry innovator.

Ellen Melcosky, founder and President of Little Miss Chief, truly lives by the words of encouragement she offers others: “Follow your dream, be proud of who you are and where you came from. Remember to respect the land, your family, and all who you come into contact with.”

A member of the Esketemc First Nation, Ellen developed her gourmet smoked salmon product based on a family recipe passed down from her grandmother. Her cedar box packaging reflects west coast First Nations traditional legends, designed by a First Nations artist. Out of respect for the land, Little Miss Chief made a commitment to sustainability by choosing to cure wild keta salmon, rather than wild sockeye salmon that is suffering from overfishing and dwindling stocks.

Little Miss Chief produces a high-quality gourmet smoked salmon in shelf-stable packaging that is sold across Canada, the US and to several markets in Europe. Revenues have nearly tripled over the past two years, with year-over-year growth exceeding 65%. Last year, Ellen secured a major contract with a national grocery retailer, and was recently included in a new publication “New Pioneers: Stories of 100 BC Women Entrepreneurs” produced by the Women’s Enterprise Centre.

Little Miss Chief is a certified CAMSC Supplier based in central Okanagan, B.C. and employs 4 people. For more information, visit

Corporation of the Year Award: Xerox

This award is for leaders who exemplify the very best in corporate practice when it comes to the promotion of supplier diversity. They constantly strive for excellence, and pro-actively include certified Aboriginal and Minority suppliers in their procurement opportunities, assist in the development of Aboriginal and Minority suppliers, and passionately promote supplier diversity and business development within their own organization as well as the broader business community.

Xerox Canada has a longstanding commitment to Aboriginal and Minority economic development which is demonstrated by its leadership role in many forums. The former President of Xerox Canada, Doug Lord, served as the founding Chair of CAMSC, and the corporation has long supported the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business.

While the business case for diversity may be different for each corporation, there are generic benefits for all organizations, all of which have a positive impact on the bottom line. These include improved products and services, ability to attract, motivate and retain diverse talent and being a socially responsible organization. Xerox has demonstrated all of this. It has actively included CAMSC-certified suppliers in bid opportunities, and in the current fiscal year is projected to significantly increase its procurement expenditures with CAMSC suppliers to almost $1 million. Xerox Canada has also actively engaged some of its prime suppliers in supporting supply-chain diversity and identified opportunities for diverse suppliers at the Tier Two level.

Xerox’s success is strongly connected to innovation and creativity. In the U.S., it is a longstanding member of the National Minority Supplier Development Council, with which CAMSC is affiliated, and it has actively linked CAMSC suppliers with purchasing opportunities in the US.

For more information on Xerox’s commitment to diversity, visit:

Procurement Business Advocate of the Year Award: Ramesh Swamy, Deloitte

Presented to the individual who, through their actions, best symbolizes the spirit and intent of Aboriginal and Minority economic development. This individual must be an advocate in conducting his or her business responsibilities but not necessarily a procurement buyer.

Diversity has been a thread throughout much of Ramesh’s career. Prior to returning to Canada in late 2006, he led the University of Southern California (USC) Business Expansion Network for a number of years. He received many distinctions for his supplier diversity efforts at USC, including being named an Outstanding Man of Minority Business in 2003 by Minority Business News USA.

Since returning to Canada and joining Deloitte’s Financial Advisory practice, Ramesh has contributed significant time and resources to raise awareness and improve the impact of supplier diversity programs in Canada. He has given presentations on supplier diversity best practices to various organizations, co-authored an article for Purchasing B2B magazine on the business case for supplier diversity in Canada, met with the Right Honourable Paul Martin to advise on strategies to deploy capital into Aboriginal communities, and worked with the CAMSC Board to develop a three year strategic plan.

Ramesh was instrumental in Deloitte’s recent decision to join CAMSC and is currently driving the development of their supplier diversity program.