Skip to content
Sponsored Content

A life transformed: Steven Stark’s perspectives on business reconciliation

The 2023 Indigenous Partnerships Success Showcase runs June 1 and 2 in Vancouver
Steven Stark, member of Tsawwassen First Nation and owner and CEO of Tsawwassen Shuttles inc.

Steven Stark is a manifester who wholeheartedly applies his considerable energy to ideas and opportunities that lift up Indigenous people. 

It’s the kind of ethos that’s led him to wisdom and wealth. 

But it wasn’t always so. 

Substance abuse, homelessness and displacement befell Stark from a young age. 

At 26, he chose a different path: a life of equal parts service and serial entrepreneurship. Now, Stark offers a perspective on culture, commerce and life that few could imagine. It’s this full-circle journey that will be highlighted as part of his discussion with Squamish Nation hereditary chief Ian Campbell, one that will take place as part of the upcoming 2023 Indigenous Partnerships Success Showcase (IPSS). 

“It wasn't until I got clean at 26 that I began to find my way through the help of my community and especially our beloved Chief Ken Baird,” explains Stark. “When we rediscover our identity and take pride in our past, we can see our future defined not by our challenges but by the legacy of our ancestors – Canada’s “first entrepreneurs” – who built a thriving economy all the way up and down the coast and into the interior, in harmony with our values and environment.” 

Stark firmly believes that his cultural confidence helped him overcome the challenges he faced in life – and it’s precisely that resilience that drives today’s Indigenous businesses towards success. 

His pathway to entrepreneurship included a three-decade career in fishing, followed by the establishment of the Tsawwassen Shuttles Inc. and its four divisions: marine, bussing, street sweeping and water trucking. 

Stark also served four terms as an elected councillor with the Tsawwassen First Nation, enabling him to directly influence his destiny and that of his people within the broader community in Metro Vancouver. 

“At the heart of my personal transformation was the transformation of the Tsawwassen First Nation, and core to that was the revitalization and renewal of our traditional culture,” Stark says. “Cultural confidence and success go hand-in-hand, whether as individual business people or as a community.”

Now in its fourth year, the IPSS bridges the gap between commerce and culture, with a distinct focus on including First Nations across the country in corporate Canada. 

Stark will be one of the panel members present at the upcoming IPSS event. Photo by Darryl Dyck for IPSS.

The conference runs June 1 and 2 at the Vancouver Convention Centre and highlights the importance of establishing cultural recognition and respect prior to achieving truly successful partnerships in business and beyond.

“We really do see that economics touches all of our lives, but so does culture and the line between those is somewhat arbitrary at times,” Chief Campbell explains. “On a practical level, when you’re a confident person in your abilities, in your background and you’re proud of who you are and where you come from, you’re in a better place to assert yourself in the business world and in your own life.”

The panel, From Adversity to Intergenerational Prosperity: Steven Stark in Conversation with Chief Ian Campbell begins at 11:30 a.m. on June 2. 

“Canadian business leaders ask, ‘How can we contribute to meaningful reconciliation?’ My message is that the best thing corporate Canada and the entire business community can do is to partner with Indigenous people,” Stark says. “Listen to us. Hear our stories. Build a relationship, and we can break down these barriers as we work together.”

Tickets for the 2023 Indigenous Partnerships Success Showcase are available here.