Weston Zawada

Small Town Big Dreams: Weston Zawada’s Journey to The City’s Bright Lights and Brighter Future

“Your work takes up such a significant amount of your life. I want to find a way where every single day I wake up, and know I'm doing something that is 100% who I am as a person, and that's what I want the future to be like,” Weston Zawada dreams aloud. He lives in Vancouver, studying finance and entrepreneurship in his fourth year at the University of British Columbia Sauder School of Business. He works for a cryptocurrency startup called Keys Token. At 21, he’s already a passionate blockchain and real estate industry enthusiast.

In high school, Zawada struggled academically but thrived socially. He knew he wanted to study business but wasn’t sure exactly which area. Before he graduated, he researched the best business school and what he would need to get in there to develop a plan. Instead of partying with his friends, Zawada studied and only applied to attend his dream school. He was also part of the Youth Action Network, participating in projects to benefit Indigenous communities and to raise money for world hunger. 

Now, he’s living the dream, far from his hometown of Kimberly, BC. Zawada knew as a teen he wanted to move away, having spent time in Houston, Texas, Vancouver and New York. He decided he needed a change and to see how far he could push himself to reach his goal.  In addition to being sponsored by his home community, he’s also won an Indigenous award from JLL Canada. 

His advice for Indigenous youth thinking about leaving their home community is “you’ve got to taste everything when you're young.” He’s noticed many people get comfortable in their small town, have trouble adjusting to the city when they leave for school and then return home again. He suggests people try city life but acknowledges it’s not for everyone. “Even though you might love it where you are currently, you don't know if you're going to love it five times more elsewhere,” he continues.  

"Even though you might love it where you are currently, you don't know if you're going to love it five times more elsewhere."

As a social person, moving somewhere he knew nobody was hard at first, but three years later he’s found putting himself out there and meeting new people to be an amazing experience. He set his mind to making the most of every opportunity in his new community. 

If he were to go back to his hometown now, he would start a business with friends and spend time at the gym. He would also share what he’s learned while away, something he’s been invited to do at his old high school, knowing not everyone has the resources to move to the city even if they want to. He would want to mentor youth and be more involved in the community. “My life has been anything but ordinary in the last two years… It's honestly a dream come true. But there's been a lot of stress, ups and downs. But I think after all of that, I've learned so much and I would just like to bring that back to the community,” he confides.  

Illustration by Shaikara David

In Vancouver, he’s been running an Airbnb short term rental business with his friends and trying to launch a crypto currency, a form of digital real estate. They are building a Metaverse where it will be currency, full of VR generated digital mansions designed by architects in Miami. “I really think it's gonna be the future. Essentially, it's going to function like actual real estate, but it's going to be with the power of blockchain and cryptocurrency and obviously VR and AR technology, which is pretty freaking awesome,” he beams.

What inspires him from day to day is the desire to see how far he can push himself, having come from somewhere people didn’t expect much from him. With success, the expectations of others have risen. The job he has now is the only one he applied for because he wanted it so badly and that has driven him to work harder. He wants to be able to look back knowing he made all his decisions for himself after seeing so many people take on the choices of their family and friends. 

Zawada wants to be proud of himself looking back so he’s doing everything he can. Looking to the future, he has a year left in school and the job he’s in is high pressure. He wants to graduate and create experiences that will shape who he is and that make good use of his skills in a range of roles. He wants to be active in a variety of areas and he’s recently started his own podcast. 

In his spare time, Zawada plays basketball, skis, dirtbikes, snowmobiles and plays laser tag. He loves horror movies, spending time with his friends, going to the beach and playing video games. He also does talks as part of an Indigenous club at UBC. He also lives in a residence that is aligned with his heritage.

If he could give a message to his younger self it would be to live in the moment. With the fast paced, always connected modern life there are plenty of distractions and he builds things up in his head so he’s always thinking about future plans. At the gym he works out at, he uses the steam room, meditates and takes cold showers which helps him stay in the moment. While it’s uncomfortable in the moment, he is energized when he’s done.

One of his favourite quotes is Kobe Bryant’s “rest in the end, not in the middle.” He believes in investing completely in whatever you are doing and getting things done even if he’s tired. He also believes that hard work pays off and that whatever you do, you need to work hard. In a recent podcast episode about the meaning of life, he shared his perspective that it’s all about fulfillment. Even when things haven’t worked out as planned, he can look back and remember he tried. Focusing on what matters to him and giving those things his all, he’s confident he will find fulfillment and pride in his accomplishments. 

Knowing work takes up such a significant amount of his life, Weston Zawada is finding a way to make sure what he is doing every day reflects who he is completely. He came from a small town to chase big dreams and he’s making the most of what the city has to offer. Embracing his crypto and real estate passions, he sees a future where his value is only rising, like the digital currency he hopes to launch.

Thanks to Alison Tedford Seaweed for authoring this article.

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Key Parts

  • Career
  • Identity
    First Nations
  • Province/Territory
    British Columbia
  • Date
    April 2, 2024
  • Post Secondary Institutions
    No PSI found.
  • Discussion Guide
    create to learn discuss

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