Good business is key to building a great community, and the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce is committed to being a positive contributor to the reconciliation process.
“At public gatherings, or lately in online gatherings we always gratefully acknowledge how we live and work in the ancestral territory of First Nations,” Chamber CEO Bruce Williams says. “The time has come for a further acknowledgement, that being how the economy and culture we have created was built by suppressing Indigenous culture, spiritual beliefs, family practices, freedom and stewardship of the land, sea and air.”
In the years since colonization, settlers have placed restrictions on Indigenous people, separated children from their families, evicted them from their ancestral land and water, introduced disease, imposed an elected system of governance, stolen artifacts and sacred symbolic artifacts, attempted to assimilate them into our beliefs and eliminate their culture.
“First Nations have not had full access to the economic prosperity we have created in their traditional territories,” Chamber Chair John Wilson says. “That’s not right. As an organization founded in 1863, we are part of the history of our community. Regrettably, we need to acknowledge that means we share responsibility for the suppression of Indigenous peoples.”
For these reasons and many others, the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce is creating an Indigenous Business Task Force for the purpose of engaging Indigenous-owned businesses and First Nations in a strategy to enhance every possible opportunity for those businesses to flourish within our shared economy.
One of the roles of The Chamber is building relationships between businesses, between communities and across governments. To ensure all Indigenous-owned businesses have the opportunity to participate in Chamber programs, our Board of Directors has agreed to waive membership fees for a full year for Indigenous-owned businesses. We will continue to provide inclusive rates to help Indigenous-owned businesses experience the benefits of ongoing Chamber membership. This offer will be open to all Indigenous-owned businesses, including current members, who choose to participate in this program.
“The Chamber is an organization that values good business and understands a healthy economy means so much more than maximizing profits,” Songhees Development Corporation CEO and Chamber director Christina Clarke says. “The reconciliation process will be difficult, but it requires efforts like this to acknowledge the truth and continue to heal our community.”
About the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce:
Since 1863, The Chamber has served Greater Victoria by working together to build good business and great community through advocacy, networking, professional development and innovative services as changing times require. In 2020, the Chamber Champions initiative added a powerful resource to provide leadership and guidance to our organization. Current Champions are: Big Wheel Burger, CHEK News, CIBC, Kinetic Construction, Knappett Projects, Mike Geric Construction, MNP, RBC, Seaspan, Spinnakers, TELUS Business, and the University of Victoria. Find out more at VictoriaChamber.ca.
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