Reconciliation Day dedicated to “honour survivors, their families, and communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of Indigenous relations takes place” was the first of what the Chamber hopes will open a new era of inclusive economic opportunity. Reconciliation has a distinct connection to the future of Nanaimo’s business community.

Among demographic metrics measuring growth in entrepreneurialism, Canada’s young Indigenous population stands out. In fact, the term “Indige-preneur” has been coined because these startups are so prolific and display such a high rate of success. Our mid-Island community is no stranger to that and, in fact, all of Vancouver Island can boast a significant amount of Indigenous Economic Development. This, in turn, supports work forces from sectors as varied as forestry, resource development, processing, advanced manufacturing, fisheries, transportation, to hospitality and tourism, the arts, health care and on and on.

In Nanaimo, Petroglyph Development Group is the corporate arm of the Snuneymuxw First Nation. The Chamber is flattered by the opportunity to sit at the table of the new Nanaimo Prosperity Corporation with PDG, and on the new Board of Tourism Nanaimo with Snuneymuxw reps helping guide Nanaimo’s economic future in hospitality. Nanaimo’s new Marriot Hotel, and the recently announced Downtown to Downtown foot passenger ferry both realized their start with an equity investment by Snuneymuxw First Nations.

First Nations art expressed through carving, painting, dance, cultural celebrations, or public displays like the Noel Brown Welcome Pole raised at Maffeo Sutton Park last week are part of the local Indigenous economy. Recent stories about Ay Lelum — the Good House of Design showing its unique Coast Salish designs at world-famous New York Fashion week are a point of pride for the whole community!

The Nanaimo Chamber and Snuneymuxw have agreed on a draft MOU focused on supporting, facilitating and advocating for local Indigenous economic development. We’re also committed to work to meet the goals of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission, especially Article #92 and by supporting UNDRIP, which the Nanaimo Chamber committed in writing to last year. This year, your Chamber is dedicated to bringing the joint agreement to a signing ceremony. You’ll all be invited to witness.

In light of the snap election call, the Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce announced its one-night All Candidates Forum on September 15. The Chamber has been organizing such presentations over the years, and they’ve become a mainstay on the periodic election scene locally.

 

“These are special times, so we’ve planned a hybrid event – a mix of a limited live audience and live-streaming coming from the Shaw Auditorium at Vancouver Island Conference Centre,” according to Kim Smythe of the Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce. “We’ll invite questions in advance, and from the audience on-site, just as we usually do. We’re hoping all parties will accept our invitation and present their candidates for consideration in this forum. It’s really timed so that voters can use the event to help them make up their minds in the last week after a month of election promises.”

 

Information and details on registration for the live event, and access to the virtual event, will be posted on the Chamber’s website, social media channels and in local media.

With opportunities to open up small public gatherings again, Downtown Nanaimo is adding a ‘Corner Concert’ series to entertain lunch crowds and passersby this summer.

Solos and duos will take over downtown corners near patios adding a new ‘live music’ vibe to downtown, celebrating a return to a more normal social setting with the pandemic increasingly fading from everyday life and a new hospitality season upon us. “It’s been a very challenging couple of years for downtown businesses – retailers, restauranteurs, tourism operators have all struggled to survive.” said Kim Smythe, on behalf of the Downtown Nanaimo Business Association.

According to Smythe, a number of initiatives are underway to attract and welcome Nanaimo residents and visitors back downtown after the announcement of restriction relaxations. In addition to advertising in publications with Island-wide and BC Ferries distribution, Downtown Nanaimo is running a local social media photo promotion all summer, with $2,000 in prizing shared among eligible participant winners. www.downtownnanaimo.ca

Corner Concerts will connect people to the gathering-spots that are coming alive downtown again. Diana Krall Plaza, Museum Way, and National Land Building steps are going to be the most popular corners to serve as Corner Concert venues. Entertainment takes place 11:30 am – 1:30 pm on Fridays, Saturdays, & Sundays throughout the summer with a variety of performers.