GREATER VICTORIA – Last November, I went shopping for a new tie. It was more exhilarating than it probably should have been, but my excitement wasn’t really about the tie. Sure, it was sweet and looked great with my suit. But the real thrill of the purchase was that it was part of preparing for the biggest gala celebration in years. Certainly bigger than any gathering I’d been to during the pandemic and arguably as grand as any gala in The Chamber’s recent history — and we’re known for hosting some pretty fun parties.
Alas, Omicron had other ideas. The COVID-19 variant brought renewed restrictions and my tie stayed tucked away until it could debut on a less auspicious occasion. It was difficult to ask Chamber staff to stand down after so much work had gone into planning for the launch of a brand-new Business Hall of Fame, presented by RBC.
Since then, we’ve had time to refine our plans as we patiently waited for a return to certainty. We settled on Oct. 5. And now, as that date quickly approaches, I’m feeling the same anticipation I had last fall.
I have a sense I’m not alone. We need this as a business community. We need to celebrate each other and our long history of businesses serving as the backbone of our city. So, for those of you who agree, here’s a refresher on what’s planned for Oct. 5.
As this is our inaugural Business Hall of Fame event, we are essentially inducting two cohorts to create a solid foundation for the hall.
The first cohort is comprised of everyone who has been awarded a Chamber Lifetime Achievement Award. This was an annual honour that was part of our Business Awards gala until 2020, and winners being inducted into the hall are: Bill McCreadie, Gordy Dodd, Eric Charman, Mel Cooper, Murray and Lynda Farmer, Naz Rayani, Bob Skene, Keith Dagg, Terry Farmer, Cedric Steele, Gordon Denford, Alex A. Campbell, Robert H. Wright and John Chew.
In 2021, we actually moved away from this category to include leaders who are in the prime of their working life. Since then, the Award of Distinction has “highlighted a business person who has contributed to Greater Victoria through leadership and vision as a positive role model and a sustained commitment to a prosperous community.”
Of course, we also want to pay tribute to people whose lifetime of work deserves to be commemorated. I believe the Business Hall of Fame is the best way to do this going forward.
This year, we have five inductees entering the hall: Chief Robert Sam, Ian Maxwell, Helen Beirnes, Clare Copeland and Ron Lou-Poy. They were selected by a committee of community leaders based on their roles as pioneers and innovators. Each has a unique story that helped pave the way for others to follow.
These are all pioneers who helped build our economy and paved the way for today’s entrepreneurs and organizations. Innovators who broke through barriers to blaze new trails and help our region become the extraordinary place it is today.
I hope you will be able to join us on Oct. 5 at the Victoria Conference Centre to celebrate the tremendous history of business in Greater Victoria. I promise it will be a milestone marking the start of a promising future where we can work together to build good business and great community for all.
Time for me to find a new tie! To register for the Business Hall of Fame, presented by RBC, go to victoriachamber.ca.
Bruce Williams is CEO of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce
This column was originally published in the September edition of Business Examiner