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Dennis Thomas-Whonoak

Senior business development manager, Tsleil-Waututh Nation, Age 39

Who or what is responsible for your work ethic?

My wife. 

What is your guilty pleasure?

Mini Oh Henry! bars. 

What is the best book you would recommend?

Rebuilding Native Nations by Miriam Jorgensen.

Now that you are (or are close to) entering your forties, what goals have you set for yourself?

To try and do hikes with my family. And play more golf. 

What was your childhood career dream?

National Football League player.

Name your happiest place.

Paddling in a Coast Salish ocean-going canoe.

What was your toughest business or professional decision?

Getting my master of business administration at age 39. 

What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

To build self-reflection into your day to ensure you are bringing your best for yourself and for others. Embed my Indigenous values into everything I do.  

What is your best habit?

Always putting my kids first.

Tell us one improbable fact about yourself.

I ended up in an Argentinian hospital after bailing on the TV show ‘Wipeout.’ 

Best piece of advice ever received?

My Indigenous identity and culture are inherent to my success. Being true to myself — Indigenous history, culture, traditions and ways of knowing — breeds happiness. 

Biggest learning (about life or business) during the pandemic?

You can accomplish a lot from an upstairs bedroom in your house. 

What career highlight are you most proud of?

Representing my Nation (Tsleil-Waututh) in welcoming the world to our shared traditional territory for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. Building the largest ground-mount solar array in Metro Vancouver for our Nation’s new administration office. Sharing our culture with thousands of locals/visitors through Takaya Tours. Being elected to my Nation’s council.