Today I am reflecting on my week away at the BC Chamber Executives AGM and conference followed by the BC Chamber AGM and Conference. What an intense week!
The BC Chamber Executives is an organization I am very grateful for as through this membership, my fellow Executive Directors form my “BC team”. We are an interesting mix of experience, skill sets and business sizes but we ALL share something in common – a desire to make a difference in our respective communities. We share the challenges of leading a non-profit, where there is so much reliance on funding whether it be through grants, membership, fundraising or our new focus of non-dues revenue. Our business communities share challenges whether it be workforce housing, labor market or increased costs of doing business. We are a team that is spread across our Province sharing a passion to help our business communities and to support local business. To make a difference in our communities.
I was honoured to be able to contribute to the content of the conference by presenting to my team my story, my journey towards truth and indigenous relations. I proudly presented a sneak peak of the project that we are working on in partnership with the Stz’uminus Education Society.
BCCE is an excellent resource for Chamber Executives both new and seasoned in the industry. It provides mentorship, coffee chats and education relating to our industry. Being a smaller organization, and with these assets in mind, our conference included well thought out sessions and the sharing of information through the experience of our Team. Panels, indigenous learning and operational learning sessions led by my fellow Executive Directors.
Externally we experienced an excellent coaching session and we heard from our member partners Kubera Payment Solutions and BC Chambers Plan sharing their strategies to support our Chamber members. For us these two organizations are particularly important partners as they provide an opportunity for non-dues revenue for our Chamber. What do they offer? Please do not hesitate to contact me, I would be happy to tell you all about them.
These two days facilitated learning as well as created strong partnerships and generated renewed enthusiasm in our roles.
Day 3 was our swing day, after 2.5 days of sharing, learning and yes, laughing, we ended our BCCE Conference with a hike to the site of a train wreck from 1956. The afternoon was the start of the BC Chamber Conference and AGM, beginning with Caucus Meetings and the Welcome Reception and Dinner.
What’s the difference you say?
Well, let me tell you. The next 2.5 days were intense. It was a completely different vibe as we were joined by some of our directors as well as corporate members and politicians. I was grateful to be joined by our Ladysmith Chamber Director, Dave Devana of the Nanaimo Airport. I was proud that my Board was represented at this BC Chamber event.
We focused forward with a panel of dynamic young entrepreneurs “40 under 40’s”, and we worked together with an address from the Minister of Finance, the Honorable Katrine Conroy, Kevin Falcon, leader of BC United and Sonja Furstenau, leader of the BC Green Party, and a session with Cohen Bradley and Allison Burns Joseph representing Indigenous Tourism, A Step towards Truth and Reconciliation. In person sessions with question periods and an opportunity to meet with the speaker after their session. In between these sessions were education sessions including but not limited to Mental Health leadership, addressing the Labour Market Gap and A National Economic Look. Cutting Edge of the Ledge with Keith Baldrey and Vaughn Palmer on Day 2 did not disappoint.
Once again, I am reminded that all these sessions and all this information is not only specific to each region of our province but also shared by all regions. The panel “Trending to the Future: What are today’s sectoral trends telling us?” consisted of three panelists from 3 different sectors, one from LNG, one from Agriculture and one from Construction. I was pleased to see local farmer, Jennifer Woike representing Agriculture on the panel.
Meeting with politicians, economic forecasting, panels and learning is not all that goes on at the BC Chamber Conference.
The meat of the BC Chamber conference is our policy sessions. It started at the Wednesday caucus meeting where I met with the other Vancouver Island Chambers to discuss policies on the list that directly affect Vancouver Island. Duncan Chamber was submitting a policy and North Vancouver came into our meeting to ask to amend the policy by adding to it. A highlight for me in this process was when we pulled a policy from the Consent Agenda regarding the Island Rail Corridor. The policy had been submitted 3 years ago and with the recent activity with respect to the corridor, our caucus members felt it should be brought forward and updated. It was an interesting experience for me over the next two days as we met, discussed and put together the wording to update this policy. This policy came up towards the end of our policy session on the second day and I am pleased to report that our amendments were accepted and the updated policy approved. Rewarding.
Through this experience, I made some amazing connections and am looking forward to working more closely with the other Island Chambers and the BC Chamber Policy Review Committee over the next year. We will collaborate on top-of-mind issues to create, update and review Vancouver Island policies for submission to the BC Chamber next year. Our BC Chamber membership supports us and strengthens our voice when they bring these policies to the Provincial Government.
Now, if you are intrigued or would like to chat with me about my eventful week away, please do not hesitate to contact me.