A Williams Lake business owner won the 2020 Canadian Automobile Dealers Association (CADA) Dealer Recognition Program award.
Brian Garland, owner of Cariboo Chevrolet Buick GMC Ltd in Williams Lake, was named the recipient in the Ambassador category.
“I never looked to win it, but victory is good for everyone,” Garland told the Tribune.
The Ambassador Award is presented to someone who has rendered extraordinary service to the community and industry, CADA winner CEO Tim Reuss said in a video announcing the finalists and winners.
Nominations are received from over 3,200 Canadian dealers across Canada and reviewed by a panel.
Garland is not sure who nominated him for the award and has said he honestly believes he will one day be nominated.
“In our industry we have talked about the impact we can have on our city and that has been in the foreground. With Cariboo culture, if you don’t score, it’s just practice, that’s my code.
Over the years, Cariboo GM has hosted pumpkin carving events, supported the Dry Grad car raffle and Thompson Rivers University Williams Lake.
“We’re doing it because it’s good for the community,” Garland said.
In 2012, Garland brought locals together to form TRU Grit, a fundraising group to support TRU Williams Lake by providing scholarships to students who attend campus.
The film, Tru Grit, was playing in town and Garland thought the name was appropriate for the band.
“I like cities with universities – I have friends in Nova Scotia who live in college towns and they have their own flavor,” he said. “I am really grateful that we have a university.
Since its inception, TRU Grit has raised thousands of dollars through the TRU Grit Gala held in Williams Lake.
Cariboo GM also presented a large scholarship to cover the tuition fees of a student in the applied sustainable breeding program at TRU Williams Lake for the past three years.
He is also a big supporter of the Cariboo Chilcotin Youth Fiddlers and has organized the purchase of violins and guitars to start the group.
He even tried to recruit someone from the East Coast to teach the kids, but said “those goddamn Nova Scotians” didn’t want to leave the house.
“I went to Inverness, Nova Scotia and I sat down with the editor of the newspaper and I asked, ‘Can you please help us recruit someone to start a school of violin in Williams Lake? ”
Eventually, he met Ingrid Johnston, who now leads the fiddler group, and was able to convince her to get involved.
“She was classically trained and had been a member of the Kamloops Symphony,” Garland said of Johnston. “She and her husband Ty run a ranch. She was such a gift to us. It was so great to have him.
Garland and his wife Muriel moved to Williams Lake in 1969 from Edmonton.
Their daughter Dallas works with Brian and their late son Geoff died of cancer in 2018.
For the CADA Awards, 15 names of finalists were submitted to expert and independent judges from Ivey Business School and Western University through a “rigorous” review process.
The judges’ comments noted that Garland had helped build his community over the decades.
“What is particularly striking is the diversity of its efforts to build and strengthen the community beyond the limits of its business interests,” the judges noted.
“His efforts to create the TRU Grit group to save the local university are very remarkable, and his initiatives on youth and music education are truly inspiring.”