Malahat Nation CAO receives Chamber Award of Distinction

Malahat Skywalk
The Malahat SkyWalk, a project brokered by Josh Handysides on behalf of the Malahat Nation, is an example of what success looks like for Indigenous economic development — a multi-tiered project whose long-term impact will include improved well-being and access to resources for the Nation. Photo: Jeffrey Bosdet. 

The Victoria Chamber of Commerce will recognize Josh Handysides, Chief Administrative Officer of the Malahat Nation, with their 2022 Award of Distinction.

The award is given to local business leaders who’ve made a considerable contribution to their communities through leadership and vision as a positive role model. Handysides, says a media release, has been instrumental in building diverse partnerships between the private and public sectors and the Malahat Nation.

Josh Handysides, CAO of the Malahat Nation
Josh Handysides, CAO of the Malahat Nation. Photo supplied.

“Josh has been the steady hand behind a number of projects that have been game changers for our region,” said John Wilson, Chair of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Directors. “The Malahat Skywalk has been a boon for tourism, generating positive publicity on social media as a destination for visitors to Vancouver Island.”

Handysides is also lauded for his work to bring a film studio to an 80-acre parcel on Malahat lands. The project, currently in the investment phase, will include a business and industrial park, hotel, shopping village and a technical academy for film apprenticeships and skills ­training and create hundreds of jobs.

Handysides has also led initiatives to further environmental stewardship as well as improve opportunities for physical and mental health care and community safety.

The Chamber notes Handysides’ support of the Spirit Loop marketing campaign “helping our economy build resilience and move forward.” The Spirit Loop aims to extend the range of Greater Victoria’s tourism industry while helping preserve traditional uses of the land and important ecosystems.

“I’m humbled by this recognition and grateful for the help and support of the Malahat Nation,” said Handysides. “The energy and creativity of Indigenous entrepreneurs is a powerful force for our economy and we look forward to continuing to build bridges and showcase initiatives that connect Malahat Nation to its land and traditions.”

Chamber CEO Bruce Williams added “it’s fitting that the judges saw the value in Josh’s efforts to better connect Indigenous entrepreneurs with our region’s business community. We are committed to taking action to further reconciliation and one way to achieve that is by celebrating the success of Josh and the Malahat Nation.”

The Chamber’s Award of Distinction is described as “a contemporary re-imagining of the Lifetime Achievement Award.”

Their 2022 Business Awards feature 14 categories recognizing businesses that distinguished themselves in many ways, including excellent customer service, sustainable business practices, emerging professionals and non-profit association of the year.

In December 2021, Mary Lou Newbold of Mayfair Optometric Clinic was announced as Chamber Member of the Year for 2022. Winners are determined by an independent panel of prominent business leaders who serve as judges. The Chamber’s 2022 Business Awards will be held on May 7 at the Fairmont Empress.