Willa Black to receive the 2015 Award for Excellence in Aboriginal Relations from the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business and Sodexo Canada

August 11, 2015

Toronto, Ontario - The Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB) and Sodexo Canada are pleased to announce that this year’s recipient of the Award for Excellence in Aboriginal Relations is the Vice-President of Corporate Affairs for Cisco Canada, Willa Black.

Willa Black to receive the 2015 Award for Excellence in Aboriginal Relations from the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business and Sodexo Canada

As Vice-President of Corporate Affairs, Willa Black’s leadership on the Connected North Program has served to bridge the Aboriginal digital divide through the use of networking technology.

Connected North has been instrumental in increasing healthcare and educational capacity in remote and underserved Aboriginal communities across northern Canada. The initiative was inspired by a meeting in 2011 between Black and Mary Simon, herself a former Award for Excellence in Aboriginal Relations winner, who at the time was President of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami. The meeting helped to establish a clear direction for Black’s desire to create something ‘by Canadians and for Canadians’ with Cisco’s technology at its heart.

Through her tireless initiative, Black has touched many lives and done extraordinary work to reduce the digital exclusion of northern Canadian communities which has had additional social, economic and health benefits for all involved. The goal now is to connect all 600 Aboriginal schools in Canada so that they can share their culture and values more broadly across Canada – bridging the cultural divide that can exist between Aboriginal people and Canadian society.

CCAB President and CEO JP Gladu stated, “The passion and commitment that Willa Black has infused into the Connected North program serves as an outstanding example of corporate Canada embracing new ideas generated through new technologies.  Willa’s work will resonate across the country in the years to come bringing opportunity and potential in its wake.”

“Willa Black’s leadership on the Connected North program clearly demonstrates how Canadian executives can leverage their company’s expertise to tackle a problem and change the world for so many people. Her dedication and get it done attitude is inspiring and I hope this award encourages other companies to consider what they could do to make a difference in our remote communities across Canada,” expressed Barry Telford, President of Sodexo Canada.

The Award for Excellence in Aboriginal Relations is presented annually to a Canadian who has personally contributed, through his or her professional and voluntary commitments, to building bridges between Aboriginal people and Canada’s business community. The recipient of the award is selected by a jury of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal business leaders. Ms. Black will be presented with the award at the CCAB’s 13th Annual Vancouver Gala on September 24, 2015.

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