Pudge Bawa was the headliner at the 22nd Black Tie Awards presented by the Duncan Cowichan Chamber of Commerce, which streamed live on YouTube on May 4.
The Duncan Cowichan Chamber of Commerce made the decision back in March of 2020 to postpone the awards due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The hope was to be able to celebrate Duncan’s finest within the business community at an in-person event but that was not meant to be. Streaming the event live online was the next best option. It was hosted by Sonja Nagel, executive director of the Duncan Cowichan Chamber of Commerce, Cathy Robertson, the general manager of Community Futures Cowichan, and Chamber president Julie Scurr.
Bawa was honoured with the chamber’s Lifetime Achievement award at the end of the virtual ceremony.
“It’s nearly impossible to sum up Mr. Bawa’s life and his dedication and contribution to the Cowichan Community,” Scurr said.
“Mr. Bawa’s many contributions to the Cowichan community are prolific. His company, Marpole Transport, now owned by his son, Rajin, is the largest Vancouver Island-based trucking and transport operation with a fleet of 135 trucks and more than 200 employees,” Scurr said. “Marpole Transport has also been a consistent platform upon which Mr. Bawa has supported numerous local causes including B.C. Forest Discovery Museum, Chesterfield Sportsplex, Cowichan Exhibition, Cobble Hill Fair, Heart and Stroke Foundation (the Big Bike ride), Heart House Victoria, B.C. Summer Games, Cowichan Hospice, and countless local youth sports teams but perhaps most notable of all in his volunteer work is Mr. Bawa’s service as a director with the Paldi Sikh Temple and the Cowichan District Hospital Foundation.”
A tribute to Bawa was shown featuring many of those involved with Bawa over the years.
“As far as we’re concerned, you could not have picked a better candidate,” Dave Mayo of the Paldi Sikh Temple said. “He has been and is still one of the main pillars that protects, preserves and helps the Paldi Sikh Temple to run.”
Bawa was able to give a speech over the phone.
“It’s something I’ve never expected,” he said. “I’m very honoured and humbled to be the recipient of the Black Tie Lifetime Achievement Award. I was totally surprised when I was told I was the winner. It was very unexpected.”
Bawa’s accolade was the final award handed out during the ceremony.
The first award of the night was for customer service.
“Always a tough category,” said Nagel.
Vince Avery and the team at Thrive Now Physiotherapy took the 2020 Customer Service award, sponsored by London Drugs.
“This is absolutely fantastic,” Avery said over the phone. “Thank you very much to whoever nominated us.”
Avery thanked his co-workers, saying, “We all pull the same as a team and we’re very very fortunate to live in such a beautiful place and work with such great people.”
The other nominees in this year’s Customer Service category were Andrea Laite, manager of the CVI Restaurant & Lounge, and David and Victoria Robinson of McBarley’s.
Up next was the award for Business Achievement (1-5 employees), sponsored by Island Savings, a Division of First West Credit Union.
Nominated were Laura Shand of Cowichan Valley Running, Sam and Jen Beswick of Ignition Motorsports, and Aaron and Cate Scally of Small Block Brewing Company.
The winner was Ignition Motorsports.
Next was the award for Business Achievement (6-19 employees), sponsored by Veridis Plumbing & Heating and PD Stover Professional Corporation.
Susan Quakenbush of Cheers Cowichan Tours, George Gates and Evelyn Koops of the Farm Table Inn, and Jeff Downie of the Old Firehouse Wine & Cocktail Bar were the nominees. Downie won the award and answered Nagel’s phone call from City Square, where cheering could be heard in the background.
“I’m very honoured, thank you,” he said. “I just want to say thank you to the Chamber for the diligence putting this on. It’s really incredible. What an honour it’s been to be in this category. We’ve been at it for almost a decade and this is a real tremendous moment for this staff and everyone whose put their sweat equity into this place.”
Rounding out the 2020 Business Achievement awards was the 20+ employees category, sponsored by MNP LLP.
Peter & Wayne Richmond of 49th Parallel Grocery, The Cobblestone Pub’s Dave Kral, and Profab Manufacturing Ltd. & Vanguard Cranes Inc.’s Jason LeRoy were the nominees with the Richmond family of 49th Parallel Grocery winning the top prize.
“Woohoo!” Peter Richmond answered above the cheering within his home. He thanked his entire family for their efforts. “It’s definitely been a year of hard work for a lot of us. I want to give a big shout out to all of our team members across all of our locations…We wouldn’t be here without them. At 49th we talk about community all that time and that’s what we are all about.”
The 2020 Young Entrepreneur award, sponsored by Coastal Community Credit Union, featured business owners under the age of 40 who started a business within the last three years. This year’s three nominees were Brennan Colebank of Stillhead Distillery, Dina Stuehler of Ironworks Cafe & Creperie, and Grant Lestock-Kay of Cowichan Cycles.
Colebank’s Stillhead Distillery won.
“Thank you so much. I’m extremely honoured and humbled to be in this category,” Colebank said over the phone.
He thanked his family and his staff.
“I didn’t do this by myself,” he said. “I’m very proud to be part of this business community.”
The 2020 Green Business award, sponsored by the Cowichan Valley Regional District, included nominees Paul Brunner and Family of Blue Grouse Estate Winery, Elly Ruge of Cowichan Auto Repair, and Dawn Howlett, Chris Manley and Olga Roberts of Resthouse Sleep Solutions with the Resthouse crew winning.
“Wahooo!” they cheered when Manley answered. “The Chamber has been unbelievable. We really want to thank the Chamber. This whole process has been really amazing.”
The 2020 Art in Business award followed.
“In this category we get to see some of Cowichan’s most creative businesses,” Nagel noted.
Sponsored by Cowichan Woodwork, the nominees included eventual winner Arnim Rodeck of Shamawood, as well as Kathy Lassche of Mulberry Lane School of Music, and Adera Angelucci and Ryan Smith of SPIRO Creative.
“This is amazing. That’s fantastic,” the winner, Rodeck, said over the phone. “It’s not just about us doing all the hard work, it’s about the beautiful nature we have. The trees, the animals and all that. I think they deserve a big rally as well.”
Nominees for 2020 Volunteer of the Year, sponsored by Peninsula Co-op, were Deb Savory Wright of KidSport Cowichan, Jack Pearce of Providence Farm, and Ken Cossey of Volunteer Cowichan and Oak Transit.
Savory Wright took the prize.
“I’m shocked,” she said. “Oh my goodness. This is totally surprising. I’m extremely humbled to be even nominated and to receive this. Volunteering is not about the recognition. It’s just about giving back and to help ensure that this community that we call home is strong and thriving and healthy for all who live here. While I lead the KidSport Cowichan team it’s the volunteers I work alongside with that I share the recognition with. They’re just a remarkable group.”
The hosts had a soft spot for the volunteering category.
Finally, the 2020 Non-Profit Organization award, sponsored by Cowichan Green Community, featured Jamie Goodman and Gretchen Hartley of Cowichan Hospice as winners, along with Patrick Hrushowy and Carol-Ann Rolls of Cowichan Therapeutic Riding Association, and Fatima da Silva and Rod Allen of Nourish Cowichan.
Goodman accepted the award on behalf of Cowichan Hospice.
“I’m really honoured to accept the award,” he said, noting it’s been a big year with the opening of the Hospice House.
“I’m so proud to just live and grow up in this Cowichan Valley all my life.”
The event conclude shortly before 9 p.m.
“Being a Black Tie finalist is a remarkable achievement,” Nagel noted in congratulating the nominees and winners.
According to the Chamber’s website, “the finalists are being recognized based on public nominations and supporting information received between November 2019 and January 2020. While we appreciate that a lot can change in a year, the Chamber felt strongly that recognition be given regardless.”
The next Black Tie Awards will be held in 2023.