By Rick Garrick
FORT WILLIAM FIRST NATION—Kateri Banning-Skaarup, a member from Fort William First Nation, credits her volunteer efforts and positive role in the community for being nominated for the Premier’s Awards.
The annual awards were launched in 1992 and continue to be administered by Colleges Ontario.
“Our goal is always to make sure that whatever we do, we do it to the best of our ability and to code and that the people we are working for or with are satisfied at the end,” says the Confederation College Mechanical Techniques – Multi-Skilling graduate. “That is our biggest [aim], is to see people happy or to see families living in a safe, clean home.”
Banning-Skaarup and her partner Dan Skaarup initially started up Skaarup Construction a few months after graduating from Confederation College in 2005 and have since turned the business into a successful design and building company.
“I went on to pursue my education further, which I’m still doing,” Banning-Skaarup says. “Now I’m able to actually design houses and small buildings. We design houses, we go build them and then we rent them out or we sell them. Our goal is always to make families happy.”
Banning-Skaarup says their goal was to build homes that are affordable for every family. They have built homes in Fort William and across Thunder Bay.
“Everybody needs a house,” Banning-Skaarup says. “Everybody deserves a roof over their head and children especially.”
Banning-Skaarup was nominated for the Technology category of the Premier’s Awards, amongst other categories such as Business, Community Services, Creative Arts and Design, Health Sciences and Recent Graduate categories. The 2016 awards gala is scheduled for Nov. 21 at the Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel.
“It was pretty cool — it definitely made my day and when I think about it, it makes me smile,” Banning-Skaarup says. “I’m not sure what I got nominated for because there were a lot of really cool people doing cool things in the city, but it’s definitely an honour.”
Banning-Skaarup also received two Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards from Nishnawbe Aski Development Fund and the Influential Women of Northern Ontario Awards over the past year.
“In 2014 my husband won a Northern Ontario Visionary Award,” Banning-Skaarup says. “In 2015, I won Young Entrepreneur of the Year from NADF. I appreciate the award and I hope it inspires other young women to look at trades as an option and as a successful career opportunity out there for them.”
Banning-Skaarup received the Influential Women of Northern Ontario award this past June at the annual awards ceremony, which was hosted by Northern Ontario Business.
“That was absolutely awesome,” Banning-Skaarup says. “I was able to bring my mom to that one because she and my grandmother have been the biggest female influences and role models.”
Banning-Skaarup and Skaarup are currently working with other contractors to build homes in Fort William’s new subdivision.
“It’s a collaborative effort between all of Fort William First Nation’s contractors,” Banning-Skaarup says. “We are all working together for the same cause and for the greater good.”
Recent Premier’s Award recipients include former Fort William Chief Georjann Morriseau, a Confederation College Aboriginal Law and Advocacy graduate who was recognized in 2014.