Brian Garland recognized for community efforts with national automobile dealer award

Brian Garland chats with Liam Dennison, a student in the Applied Sustainable Ranching program at Thompson Rivers University Williams Lake. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
Cariboo Chevrolet Buick GMC Ltd. owner Brian Garland (centre) stands with Thompson Rivers University Applied Sustainable Ranching program co-ordinator Gillian Watt, (left) and student Liam Dennison, winner of the 2020 Bull Pen Award, during a visit with the class at the Williams Lake Stampede Grounds Wednesday, Sept. 30. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
Brian Garland, second from left, visits with students in the Applied Sustainable Ranching Program at Thompson Rivers University Williams Lake. (Rebecca Dyok photo)

A business owner in Williams Lake has won a 2020 Canadian Automobile Dealer Association (CADA) Laureate Dealer Recognition Program award.

Brian Garland, owner of Cariboo Chevrolet Buick GMC Ltd in Williams Lake, has been named the recipient in the ambassadorship category.

“I never set out to win it, but the win is good for everyone,” Garland told the Tribune.

The ambassador award is given to someone who displays extraordinary service to the community and the industry, said CADA Laureate CEO Tim Reuss in a video announcing the finalists and winners.

Nominations are received from Canada’s more than 3,200 dealers across Canada and reviewed by a panel.

Garland does not know who nominated him for the award and said he honestly thought he would ever be nominated.

“In our industry we have talked about what impact we can have on our town and that’s been in the forefront. With Cariboo culture, if you don’t keep score it’s only 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 do that because it’s good for the community,” Garland said.

In 2012, Garland gathered locals to form TRU Grit, a fundraising group to support TRU Williams Lake by providing scholarships and bursaries to students attending the campus.

The movie, Tru Grit, happened to be playing in town and Garland thought the name was appropriate for the group.

Read more: Gala to raise funds for TRU bursaries

“I love towns with universities — I have some friends in Nova Scotia who are in university towns and they have a flavour of their own,” he said. “I’m really thankful 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 has also presented a large bursary to cover tuition for a student in the Applied Sustainable Ranching Program at TRU Williams Lake for the past three years.

He is also a big supporter of the Cariboo Chilcotin Youth Fiddlers, and organized buying fiddles and guitars to get the group started.

He even tried to recruit someone from the East Coast to teach the youth, but said ‘those darn Nova Scotians’ don’t want to leave home.

“I went to Inverness in Nova Scotia and I sat down with the publisher of the newspaper and asked, ‘can you please help us to recruit someone to open a fiddle school in Williams Lake?”

Eventually he met Ingrid Johnston, who directs the fiddle group today, 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’s been so great to have her.”

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 finalist names were submitted to expert and independent judges from Ivey Business School and Western University in a ‘rigorous’ review process.

Judges’ comments noted Garland has helped build his community over decades.

“What is particularly striking is the diversity of his efforts to build and strengthen the community above and beyond the confines of his business interests,” the judges noted.

“His efforts to establish the TRU Grit group to save the local university are very notable, and his initiatives on youth and music education are truly inspirational.”

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