What kind of year will 2023 be? Will we continue to experience the profound social shifts and economic uncertainty that has disrupted how we think about our obligations to each other, ourselves and our communities? We know that we all need to take responsibility for climate action leadership, as well as for moving forward on Indigenous reconciliation and improving life for our most vulnerable.
Looking to the future to help pave the way for better days is something the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce has actively done for 160 years. Today, we benefit from our experiences and strive to be an organization that embraces the best practices of our times. Our mission states we are “working together to build good business and great community for all,” while our vision is to become “the region’s most diverse and influential business association.”
Our organization was formed in 1863 by early settlers who saw an opportunity for this region to become a hub for culture, finance and shipping. It was a time of gold rushes, fortune seekers and adventurers. It was also a time that brought drastic change for Indigenous communities and the economies they had built over centuries. The ensuing decades brought quickening industrialization and streams of settlers looking for land and a new life. There are many lessons to be learned from history, and in many ways it has become more important than ever for us to acknowledge the past so that we can avoid making similar mistakes in the future.
In 2021, we were the first chamber in Canada to apologize for the role our organization played in the suppression of Indigenous culture and the trauma inflicted on generations of First Nations people. Unfortunately, there are too many examples of discrimination by mainstream society against communities that were treated as “others.” The Chamber took action by establishing an Indigenous Economic Reconciliation Table and the Inclusion, Diversity and Equity Advancement (IDEA) committee.
Additional priorities include working with business to build more sustainable practices to address climate change and social issues such as housing affordability and healthcare. On behalf of all of our current members, I look forward to connecting with more people in the coming months to share the story of The Chamber and getting down to work on the challenges our community still faces.
Join us for the Chamber 160th gala on Feb. 9, from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Royal B.C. Museum to celebrate the many milestones and accomplishments that serve as the foundation for building a better tomorrow. Details at victoriachamber.ca.