“My grandma always just said…making people smile is the most important thing,” says Nicholas Kruger. (Chehala Leonard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter)

“My grandma always just said…making people smile is the most important thing,” says Nicholas Kruger. (Chehala Leonard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter)

Entrepreneur Nicholas Kruger nominated as Okanagan community changemaker

With humour and knowledge, Nicholas Kruger says it’s important to give back

By Chehala Leonard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

As a cool winter breeze blows across the water’s surface on the southernmost point of Lake Okanagan, Nicholas Kruger, a father, professional pool player, and entrepreneur sat down to talk about being nominated as an Okanagan community changemaker.

Kruger says he feels, “flattered,” to be nominated as someone who made 2020 better.

“I didn’t expect something like this,” he says.

Meghan Harms heard the IndigiNews callout for the nominations and she nominated Kruger.

“While proudly Indigenous, he doesn’t limit his mentorship abilities to the youth of his own community,” she says.

“When my children announced their desire to open a small business, Nik was immediately drawn to helping them,” says Harms.

Father, entrepreneur, pool player

READ MORE: Pool sharks at Lakeside resort

Kruger, from Penticton Indian Band is the owner of Connoisseur Wine Tours, which offers wine tours, including private tours, sightseeing, limousine service and chartered bus services in the Okanagan.

He is also the owner of Float Penticton, a shuttle service that picks up customers anywhere within Penticton, bringing them to the river for a float, and then dropping them off when they complete the river channel.

For Kruger, entrepreneurship extends beyond businesses. He likes to share his insights with people on how to run a business successfully.

“I like to share that kind of stuff with people with entrepreneurial tendencies,” he says.

“All the good things that [have] come with it and the bad things…so that they can not make the same mistakes as I made.”

Running his businesses he says he hopes young people take notice that there’s an alternative life than working nine to five.

“People are very used to working nine to five and whenever the young people see me out there running my own business, get successful, it gives them the courage to go out there and do it too,” he says.

Kruger’s businesses primarily run during the summer months, so he uses the wintertime to travel and play pool professionally. He says he has won various tournaments around the world, including being part of the team that won the World Championship Bar Table 9-ball tournament in Oroville California in 2006.

He also represented Canada at the Chinese Eight-ball World Championships in Yushin, China.

And took second place 24th Annual V.N.E.A International Championships in Las Vegas, Nevada in 2004, among many other wins both nationally and internationally.

“I don’t win the titles for me. I win them for my mom and dad,” says Kruger.

He says that the biggest singles tournament he’s ever won was the Andy Mercer Memorial Tournament.

“People see that, they see me travelling, going out there, leaving the reserve and doing stuff on a larger scale. And hopefully, I inspire one or two people to be able to do the same,” he says.

Giving back to community

READ MORE: New shuttle service to and from Penticton River Channel

When Harms sent in the nomination for Kruger she also recognized Kruger’s contribution to the community.

“Some may know him from his comic relief on various local social media community groups where he exhibits a talent for mediation through humour,” she says.

Kruger, who posts regularly on the Penticton Facebook page, which has over 23,000 members, says he often shares jokes, positive quotes and educational posts.

“My grandma always said as long as they’re happy or making people smile is the most important thing,” he says.

He also believes in giving back to people and community.

“It’s important to give back because people helped me,” he says. “It’s a respect to the people that helped me when I first started out…is to help other people.”

One way that he does this is by hunting for single mothers, Elders, and children without fathers.

“I hunt for single moms and for Elders,” he says.

He recently made a video for single mothers and youth without parents on how to process traditional meat to help build up their confidence.

“There’s not as much abundance of animals in the mountains, so we have to spend more time in the mountains. So when we get something we like to give it to them and then hope that they can have someone help them process it,” he explains.

“So I made a video for the single moms or the Elders or the youth that don’t have parents so that they can go back and revisit it and be able to process the animal… on their own terms and build confidence for themselves.”

He also points out that every family harvests meat differently and how teachings are shared.

“There’s certain families that are better at different things and we would go out to those families and we would learn from them,” he says.

“Your family might do it differently and that family might do differently. It’s okay. There’s no wrong way to do it. And just let them know that. I think it’s good if we all learn off each other,” he says.

Kruger hopes for giving back is that finding ways to get together and share is the most important thing.

“The more ways that we know and share the better we are as a community.”

Indigenous

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Jaimee Peters photo of a Willow Midwives helping with a birth. Willow is closing its doors March 31 because of a shortage of midwives. (Contributed)
Petition to save South Okanagan’s only midwife clinic nears 3,000 signatures

After 12 years, Willow Community Midwives has to close its doors due to a shortage of midwives

Calls for potential overdoses in B.C. spiked in 2020, especially in the Okanagan - Shuswap. Pictured above is a BCEHS re-enactment of paramedics attending an overdose. (BCHES photo)
UBCO program increases drug checking availability in Kelowna, Penticton, Vernon

January 2021 data shows of 95 opioid samples tested across Interior Health, 93 contained fentanyl

Youth from Vernon, Kelowna, Penticton and the Kootenays were able to dig into two evenings of online learning and connection through United Way Southern Interior B.C.’s <CODE>anagan program. (Submitted)<code> </code>
CODEanagan gives youth a chance to learn about technology

The youth, aged 12 to 21, built their own WordPress sites and developed blogging ideas

A rainbow shining on Kelowna General Hospital on May 12, 2020 International Nurses Day. (Steve Wensley - Prime Light Media)
New COVID cases trending down in Interior Health

24 new cases reported Thursday, Feb. 25, death at Kelowna General Hospital

Okanagan patients will benefit from the recent inclusion of the Medical Arts Health Research Group in a worldwide study with the National Institute of Health (NIH). The study will be a global collaboration for finding better treatments for COVID-19. (File photo)
Okanagan research group involved with finding better COVID treatments

Okanagan Medical Arts Health Research Group invited to collaborate in global study

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

The Salmon Arm Economic Development Society released a video on Feb. 22, 2021 promoting agriculture and food production in Salmon Arm and the Shuswap. (SAEDS image)
New video promotes Salmon Arm staples of agriculture, food production

Three-minute video from economic development featuring local producers receives appreciative reviews

One person was extricated from a vehicle that rolled off Highway 97 Feb. 25, 2021, near Clerke Road in Coldstream around 2 p.m. (Roger Knox - Vernon Morning Star)
Two hurt in Highway 97 rollover south of Vernon

Ambulance transfers two patients with non-life-threatening injuries

The BC Prosecution Service announced last year that it was appointing lawyer Marilyn Sandford as a special prosecutor to review the case, following media inquiries about disclosure issues linked to a pathologist involved in the matter. (Black Press Media files)
Possible miscarriage of justice in B.C. woman’s conviction in toddler drowning: prosecutor

Tammy Bouvette was originally charged with second-degree murder but pleaded guilty in 2013 to the lesser charge

A puppy stolen from a West Kelowna residence has been reunited with its family. (Kelowna RCMP)
Stolen puppy reunited with Central Okanagan owners

A happy ending; puppy stolen from West Kelowna vehicle found in Kelowna, returned to family

A kid in elementary school wearing a face mask amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Metro Creative)
Union asks why an elementary school mask rule wouldn’t work in B.C. if it does elsewhere

B.C. education minister announced expansion of mask-wearing rules in middle, high school but not elementary students

A pharmacist prepares a COVID-19 vaccine at Village Green Retirement Campus in Federal Way on Jan. 26. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
Canada approves use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine

The country joins more than a dozen others in giving the shot the green light

Veteran Vernon radio announcer Frank Martina is returning to the local airwaves with his popular Saturday Classics show, which will run from 1-4 p.m. on Vernon’s new community station Valley FM, set to launch in the fall of 2021. (Morning Star - file photo)
Vernon radio announcer returning to airwaves

New community station Valley FM reaches deal with Frank Martina to air his Classics show

Most Read