Category: What’s New

Congratulations to the 2016 Nominees for the Oakville Awards for Business Excellence

The Oakville Chamber of Commerce and The Rotary Club of Oakville West are pleased to present the 22nd Annual Oakville Awards for Business Excellence (OABE) that will culminate in a Gala Dinner on Wednesday, March 29th at the Oakville Conference and Banquet Centre. The nominees for this year’s awards were officially announced at the OABE Nominee reception on Tuesday, February 7th at the Holiday Inn, Oakville Centre.

This year, the winners will be chosen from nominees in nine categories: RBC Small Business of the Year, Bell Mid-size Business of the Year, Large Business of the Year, Franchisee of the Year, Professional Services Provider of the Year, The Morris Mercanti Restaurateur of the Year, KPMG Entrepreneur of the Year, Genworth Community Builder of the Year, and Oakville Hydro Conservation Leadership Award.

At the gala, the winner of Oakville’s Business Icon Award and Charity or Not-for-Profit Excellence Award will be announced. The Business Icon Award recognizes a prominent Oakville business which is highly regarded in the business community. The Charity or Not-for-Profit Excellence Award honours a charity or not-for-profit organization which is highly regarded in the community and raises funds or provides services to improve the lives of people within the community.

“This year we received over 150 nominations from the Oakville community; a record number of nominations! The judges carefully reviewed all of the nominations and selected a list of 78 nominees for the Oakville Awards for Business Excellence” stated John Sawyer, President of the Oakville Chamber of Commerce. “I congratulate all of the finalists on achieving this honour; it is proof of their hard work and dedication. They truly represent the best of Oakville’s business community.”

 

Working in partnership with The Rotary Club of Oakville West, the majority of funds raised from the Gala Dinner will be donated directly to the club’s local youth programs.

“The Oakville Awards for Business Excellence gala has raised more than $500,000 since it began over twenty years ago,” said Rotary President, David Abboud. “Last year’s dinner set a record for attendance comprised of over 600 business, community and political leaders. We are looking forward to a fantastic evening to celebrate business excellence in Oakville.”

The Nominees for the 22nd Annual Oakville Awards for Business Excellence are:

RBC Small Business of the Year

Avante Boutique Inc.

Caju Multimedia Inc.

domilya GROUP Inc.

Elm Hill Cookies Inc.

Icing Marketing Corporation

J.H. Gelbloom Surveying Limited

JAE associates Ltd.

la strada

Leisure Industries Inc.

Lioness Creations Floral Design

MTC Tire Oakville Inc.

Nancy Robertson Team, Sotheby’s International Realty Canada

Oakville Windows & Doors Inc.

Otello’s Banquet & Convention Centre Inc.

Syer Hospitality Group Inc.

Studio H Design

That Pie Place

The Management Coach (Grand Plan Management Innovations Inc.)

The Millionaire’s Daughter

Ultimate Pool Service Inc.

Willowglen School

 

Bell Mid-size Business of the Year:

Cheney Window & Door Specialists

ClubRunner

Florence Meat Supplies Limited

GL Chemtec International Ltd.

Information Display Systems Canada Inc.

JNB Auto Centre Inc.

Merriam Music

Promotional Source Corporation

PSI Payroll Services Inc.

Rock Star Real Estate Inc.

Total Tech Pools and Leisure

 

Large Business of the Year:

Budds’ Group of Companies

Delta Bingo Inc.

Direct Response Media Group

D’Orazio Infrastructure Group Limited

Entripy Custom  Clothing

Freshco Retail Maintenance Inc.

Javelin Technologies Inc.

Longo Brothers Fruit Markets Inc.

OS&B (Oakville Stamping & Bending Ltd.)

Porsche Centre Oakville

Promation (Promation Engineering Ltd. & Promation Nuclear Ltd.)

Whole Foods Market Oakville

 

KPMG Entrepreneur of the Year:

Sophia Segal of Business Analyst Solution

Brenda Ahenkorah-Benoit of Clinical Trial Referral Network, Inc.

Dawn Porter-Schofield of Cornerstone Mediation

Jas Brar of Entripy Custom Clothing

Jillian Bowman of Epicured Market Inc.

Sean Neville of Healthwick

Tiffany Richardson of Icing Marketing Corporation

Christine Yardley of Print Panther Inc.

Allison Christilaw of Reddin Global Inc.

Matthew Zarrillo of Zarr Tech

 

Professional Services Provider of the Year:

CHR Health Centre Inc.

Christine M. Langevin Chartered Professional Accountants

Dynamic Health and Performance

Lakeshore Woods Pharmacy

North Ridge Family Chiropractic

Peter Watson Investments

Positive Accounting

Scotia Wealth Management/The Jamison Group

Tino-Gaetani & Carusi, Chartered Professional Accountants

 

Franchisee of the Year:

BCS – Business Coaching Solutions Corp.

EmbroidMe Oakville

Par-T-Perfect

Quicker Foods Inc.

Turtle Jack’s Oakville

 

The Morris Mercanti Restaurateur of the Year:

Croissant Express Bakery

Oliver & Bonacini Café Grill

The Crêpe Kitchen

 

Genworth Community Builder of the Year:

Mercedes Benz Oakville

Ristorante Julia

 

 

Oakville Hydro Conservation Leadership Award:

Advanced Ceramics Corp.

All-Connect Logistical Services Inc.

Alliance Labeling

Fourmark Manufacturing

Lisgar Developments

 

The Oakville Chamber of Commerce and The Rotary Club of Oakville West thank Platinum Partner RBC for their generous support of the 22nd Annual Oakville Awards for Business Excellence.

 

Event Details:

Date: Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Time: 5:30pm – Registration & Reception; 6:30pm – Dinner & Awards Gala

Location: Oakville Conference and Banquet Centre, 2515 Wyecroft Road

Tickets: $125 per person; $87.50 per person for Nominees

Purchase tickets online or by emailing info@oakvillechamber.com or calling the Oakville Chamber of Commerce at 905-845-6613.

 

 

About the Oakville Awards for Business Excellence

The Oakville Awards for Business Excellence (OABE) are dedicated to recognizing exemplary models of excellence and community service by Oakville’s businesses. The Oakville Chamber of Commerce in partnership with The Rotary Club of Oakville West organizes the OABE now in its 22nd year. The proceeds from the Gala Awards Dinner, including the considerable support from our many Partners, provide funds for the Rotary Club’s numerous youth and academic programs such as the Oakville Awards for Academic Excellence, the Oakville Youth Development Centre, and Camp Enterprise. For more information, visit www.oabe.ca .


China Trip – October 2017

china-trip-twitter-image

For only $2,499* your trip includes:

  • Round-trip International airfare & tax from Pearson International Airport
  • Chinese domestic airfare & tax
  • 4 and 5 star hotel accommodations 3 full meals per day
  • Deluxe bus tours
  • Fluent English-speaking tour guides
  • Admission to all tours and attractions

*Trip cost is $2,499 Canadian per person. Price reflects double occupancy for Oakville Chamber Members. Additional $200 per person for non-members. Add $500 for single occupancy. Addition 3% user fee for payments by credit card.

Join the Oakville Chamber of Commerce for this once-in-a-lifetime China adventure!

Space is limited. For more information, contact Gary Hill and Judith Neal at 905-845-6631, 1-800-368-3273, or chambertripinfo@advhouse.com

12-day Itinerary:

Day 1 – Toronto / Beijing
Check in at Pearson International Airport for your afternoon flight, HU7976 by 5:15pm to Beijing. Your adventure begins as you fly trans-Pacific aboard a wide cabin jetliner. Cross the
International Dateline.

Day 2 – Beijing
Arrive in Beijing, the Capital of China at 6:40pm. You will be met at the airport by your local tour guide and transferred to the hotel after dinner.

Day 3 – Beijing
Sightseeing includes the Tian An Men Square, the largest square in the world; the Palace Museum, also known as the Forbidden City, home of 24 emperors with a total space of 9,999 rooms. Visit the Pearl Market and the Summer Palace, known for many
significance such as the Long Corridor with painted gallery,
Kunming Lake and Longevity Hill, Seventeen Arch Bridge and Marble Boat. Peking Roast duck dinner is arranged.

Day 4 – Beijing
Photo stop at the 2008 Beijing Olympic venues for the outside views of National Stadium, the Bird’s Nest and the National Aquatic Center. Continue the tour to the Great Wall. En route visit the Jade Factory. The Great Wall, the 4,000- mile long and 2,000 years old construction is said to be the only man-made structure visible by naked eye from the moon. Visit one of the Ming tombs, 1 of 13 Ming Emperors’ Tombs is fully excavated and open for exploration.

Day 5 – Beijing
Morning sightseeing to the Temple of Heaven, built in 1420 A.D., where the emperors prayed to the heaven for a good harvest.
Afternoon visit to the Lama Temple of the religion of Lamaism.

Day 6 – Beijing/Xi’an
Morning flight to Xi’an. Sightseeing at the Big Wild Goose
Pagoda. Visit the Chinese Lacquer Ware Workshop. Evening entertainment of Tang Style Dancing Show.

Day 7 – Xi’an
Morning bus excursion to the Terra-Cotta Warriors at the Tomb of the First Emperor of Qin Dynasty. Enroute, visit the Xian Art Ceramic & Terra Cotta Factory. On the way back, visit the Ancient City Wall and Banpo Museum, a preserved pre-historical cavemen site.

Day 8 – Xi’an/Shanghai/Suzhou
Morning flight to Shanghai, follwed by a bus ride to Suzhou.
Sightseeing at the Tiger Hill.

Day 9 – Suzhou/Shanghai
Morning visit to the Suzhou Silk factory. Continue to the
centuries old Lingering Garden. Afternoon visit to the National Embroidery Institute to see silk embroidery, an important local craft with 1,000 years history. Then visit Jinji Lake situated
centrally at Suzhou Industrial Park. Bus ride to Shanghai.

Day 10 – Shanghai
Visit the Pudong New Development District. The Bund, a famous waterfront park and landmark of the city. Yu Garden, a maze of marvelous pavilions, ponds, rocky works and over
arching trees. Free time exploration of the old town bazaar. Visit the Shanghai Silk Rug Factory.

Day 11- Shanghai
Free day for your own exploration of the city. Only hotel room and breakfast included.

Day 12 – Shanghai/Toronto
You may take the morning flight to transit at Beijing then HU7975 at 1:55 pm for Toronto where you will arrive at 2:55pm on the same day.

 

 

 


The Success of Small Business Will Determine the Success of Ontario’s Economy

small-biz-report

The latest report by the Oakville Chamber of Commerce and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce  highlights the contributions of small businesses to the provincial economy, while also identifying, and offering solutions to, the most pressing challenges that small business owners face. The report’s recommendations are the result of detailed consultations over the course of six months held by 25 chambers of commerce and boards of trade with hundreds of small business owners throughout the province as part of the Ontario Chamber Network’s Small Business Too Big To Ignore campaign. The campaign revealed that the three major barriers that small businesses face are Business Education Tax (BET) rate reductions, a lack of access to the workers employers need, and government funding alignment on infrastructure projects.

“In Oakville, local businesses are working hard to expand their operations, however they are facing some big obstacles including the rising cost of doing business in Ontario,” said Caroline Hughes, Chair of the Oakville Chamber of Commerce. “The results of our 2016 Advocacy Survey showed that our members find rising costs to be the most significant factor impacting business and industry. Additionally, 64% of respondents believe that traffic congestion for getting staff to work is a significant obstacle for business, and almost 70% of respondents believe that current regulations are unreasonable and excessive. It is critical that regional governments work with the provincial and federal government to ensure that investments and programs are targeted to reduce operational costs and to support business growth in our region,” added Hughes.

The report also highlights that businesses with fewer than 100 employees make up 98 percent of total Ontario businesses and two-thirds of private sector employment in Ontario. They contribute approximately 28 percent to the provincial GDP and created 87.7 percent of the new jobs nationally from 2005 to 2012. Given the significance of small businesses to the provincial economy, the Ontario Chamber Network urges the government to take immediate action to implement the following three recommendations in the near term:

  1. Continue the scheduled Business Education Tax (BET) rate reductions
  2. Develop a single access point for all government-funded workforce, training, and employment services.
  3. Have all three levels of government commit coordinated infrastructure dollars to connect all Ontario businesses to the 21st century global economy.

“Small businesses in Ontario are being held back by a diverse set of challenges that need to be addressed by all three levels of government.” said Allan O’Dette, President and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. “We are encouraging the provincial government to implement our report’s recommendations so that we can ensure that our economy will have sustained economic growth for many years to come.” added O’Dette.

The Oakville Chamber of Commerce, along with the Ontario Chamber Network, encourages the provincial government to work closely with the employer community to implement the recommendations in the report. These recommendations will feature prominently in the Ontario Chamber Network’s advocacy work leading up to the 2018 provincial election. At that time, the advocacy organization will evaluate the political platforms of each party with a particular consideration as to how their campaign commitments align with the interests of small business owners in Ontario.

Read the report: Obstacles and Opportunities for Small Business in Ontario


Celebrate BDC Small Business Week with the Oakville Chamber of Commerce October 17 – 21

The Oakville Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Business Development Bank of Canada, is pleased to present Julia Hanna as the keynote speaker for the Small Business Week Kick-off Breakfast on Monday, October 17th. Julia Hanna is the Founder and Owner of Ristorante Julia and Ritorno Restaurant, Founder of HealthyFam, and Host of “Return to the Table” in partnership with Cogeco TV.

“Family is whoever sits around the dinner table” has been Julia Hanna’s lifelong philosophy. At the age of 26, Julia opened Café Galleria in downtown Oakville. In 1993 she moved on and established Paradiso, the first Mediterranean inspired restaurant in Oakville. Today, Julia runs 2 successful restaurants, Ristorante Julia and Ritorno. However, Julia’s most passionate undertaking is her non-profit initiative HealthyFam, which teaches at-risk kids, families and seniors about kitchen literacy. An award winning and dynamic entrepreneur, Julia will share her most interesting tales about life in and out of the kitchen.

The schedule of events is as follows:

Kick-Off Breakfast with Julia Hanna
Founder and Owner of Ristorante Julia and Ritorno Restaurant, Founder of Healthy Fam and Host of “Return to the Table”
Monday, October 17  7:30-9:00am
Pre-registration required. Tickets are $35 Members; $45 Non-members. Tables of 8 available.
Register now!

Business After Hours Tradeshow
Wednesday, October 19  5:00-8:00pm
No registration required, unless registering as an exhibitor.
Free to Members and first-time guests. Returning non-members $20 at the door.
Register as exhibitor.

Lunch & Learn: If It Wasn’t For The People, This Job Would Be Easy
Presented by Tim Brennan, Co-Founder and Chief Visionary Officer of Fit First Technologies
Friday, October 21 11:30am-1:00pm
Pre-registration required. Tickets are $35 Members; $45 Non-members
Register now!

 

All events will take place at the Oakville Conference and Banquet Centre, located at 2515 Wyecroft Road.

Chamber members and non-members are welcome to register and attend all Small Business Week events.

Follow the conversation using #SBW2016 & #SBWoakville2016

 

BDC                         Print                                Oakville Conference and Banquet Centre                       pwc                      firstontario-blue-orange-300-dpi


Small Business: Too Big To Ignore

too big to ignore logo - web

The Oakville Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and the Ontario Chamber Network is proud to be a part of the ambitious campaign, Small Business: Too Big to Ignore.

This campaign highlights the important contributions of small businesses to our economy and communities, and seeks to actively engage small businesses across the province in investigating the top barriers to small business growth – and identify solutions to overcome those challenges. To kick off this campaign the OCC has released the report, Top 3 Obstacles to Small Business Growth.

The Oakville Chamber looks forward to leading discussions in our community about the underlying challenges that are weighing on small businesses and stifling job creation. A strong and vibrant small business sector is important for all business. Small businesses are the wealth creators, job creators and risk takers. Small businesses have important relationships with big businesses as part of the economic ecosystem. Big businesses are often highly dependent on small businesses as suppliers, distributors, customers, innovators, and for developing a skilled and experienced workforce to draw from. Small businesses also make up the vast majority of our local membership, our volunteers, and are often the people actively involved in community service.

We want to hear from you. Please engage with us on the Small Business Too Big To Ignore campaign on Facebook and Twitter, share your input, and help spread the message about the importance of small business and why it cannot be ignored.

Join the campaign.


62nd Annual Golf Tournament

2015 Golf College 2

 

 

The Oakville Chamber of Commerce is pleased to present the 62nd Annual Golf Tournament that will take place on Wednesday, May 18th at the Glen Abbey Golf Club.

The golf tournament is important to the Chamber because it raises the funds that allow us to advocate on behalf of the business community. The 62nd Annual Golf Tournament could not be possible without the valuable support of the golfers along with our partners, volunteers, prize donors, and the exemplary staff at Glen Abbey Golf Club. Partnership opportunities are still available!

If you would like to support the tournament, please contact Jad Haffar at 905-845-6613 or e-mail jad@oakvillechamber.com.


Congratulations to 2015 Nominees for Oakville Awards for Business Excellence

The Oakville Chamber of Commerce and The Rotary Club of Oakville West are pleased to present the 21st Annual Oakville Awards for Business Excellence that will culminate in a Gala Dinner on Wednesday, March 23rd at the Oakville Conference Centre. The nominees for this year’s awards were officially announced at the OABE Nominee reception on Tuesday, February 2nd at the Holiday Inn, Oakville Centre.

This year, the winners will be chosen from nominees in nine categories: RBC Small Business of the Year, Bell Mid-size Business of the Year, Large Business of the Year, Franchisee of the Year, Professional Services Provider of the Year, The Morris Mercanti Restaurateur of the Year, Entrepreneur of the Year, Genworth Community Builder of the Year, and Oakville Hydro Conservation Leadership Award.

At the gala, the winner of Oakville’s Business Icon Award and the Charity or Not-for-Profit Excellence Award will be announced. The Business Icon Award recognizes a prominent Oakville business which is highly regarded in the business community. The Charity or Not-for-Profit Excellence Award honours a charity or not-for-profit organization which is highly regarded in the community and raises funds or provides services to improve the lives of people within the community.

“As Chair of the Judging Committee for the OABE’s, I am honoured and thrilled to take part again in celebrating the incredible businesses that make up Oakville’s community,” said Oakville Chamber of Commerce Chair, Kerry Colborne. “I want to congratulate all our nominees. They are truly representative of the best that Oakville’s business community has to offer.”

Working in partnership with The Rotary Club of Oakville West, the majority of funds raised from the Gala Dinner will be donated directly to the club’s local youth programs.

“The Oakville Awards gala has raised more than $500,000 since it began twenty years ago,” said Rotary President, Dr. Simon Pong. “Last year’s dinner set a record for attendance comprised of over 600 business, community and political leaders. We are looking forward to a fantastic evening.”

The Nominees for the 21st Annual Oakville Awards for Business Excellence are:

Oakville’s Large Business of the Year

Bennington Financial Services Corp.
Reunion Island Coffee Roasters
Geotab Inc.

Oakville’s Entrepreneur of the Year

Zarr Tech
Prism Care Corporation
Live to Dance Academy
Britnell Ventures
Oakville Nutritionist
Hearing Excellence Inc.
The Clarity Centre
Surround Integrated

Oakville’s Professional Services Provider of the Year

Hearing Excellence Inc.
Oakville Naturopathic Wellness Centre
CHR Health Centre Inc.
iCare Home Health Services Inc.
WeirFoulds LLP
West Oak Medical Clinic
Positive Accounting
Peter Watson Investments

The Morris Mercanti Restaurateur of the Year

Oliver & Bonacini Café Grill, Oakville
il Fornello Oakville
Kerr Street Café
Taste of Colombia – Fair Trade Coffee & Gift Shop
El Spero Family Restaurant

Genworth Community Builder of the Year

Lakeside Logistics Inc.
The Cardamone Group – Royal LePage Real Estate Services Ltd. Brokerage
Nachla Law Office (aka Nachla Law Office Professional Corporation)

RBC Small Business of the Year

Spartan Impressions Inc.
That Pie Place
Rock Star Real Estate Inc.
MTC Tire Oakville Inc.
Hopedale Bowl
One Health Clubs
Aroma Kitchens & Baths Inc.
Oakville Kitchen & Bath Centre
Otello’s Banquet & Convention Centre
Pretty in Pink Spa Studio Inc.
Painters Place
Nancy Robertson Team, Sotheby’s International Realty Canada

Franchisee of the Year

Par-T-Perfect Toronto West/Halton/Peel
Winmar Oakville/Mississauga
Sunset Grill – Oakville South 

Bell Mid-size Business of the Year

Top Notch Cabinets Inc.
Ace Auto Collision
Knar Jewellery
Thorvin Electronics Inc.
Blue-Pencil Information Security Inc.
Finewood Products Limited
Ancam Solutions Company Ltd.
Total Tech Pools and Leisure
Infinity Communications Inc.

Oakville Hydro Conservation Leadership Award

UPS
Procor
Denninger’s
Home Depot

The Oakville Chamber of Commerce and The Rotary Club of Oakville West thank Platinum Partner RBC for their generous support of the 21st Annual Oakville Awards for Business Excellence.


Oakville Chamber Renews its Accreditation with Distinction

distin-e-r2016-2018The Oakville Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce it has successfully renewed its Chamber Accreditation of Distinction. The national accreditation program was designed to recognize chambers who satisfy a set of high standards and practices – chambers who look to the future and want to stand out.

What is Accreditation?

In 2004, representatives from all levels of the chamber network formed the Chamber Accreditation Council of Canada (CACC) and launched a national accreditation program designed to recognize chambers that satisfy a set of high standards and practices—chambers that seek to stand out, that look to the future.

Accreditation is a formal acknowledgement that member chambers of commerce/boards of trade have been successfully evaluated by the CACC against rigorous national standards of policy, service and performance.

Benefits

Accreditation will ensure:

  • Strategic focus on core chamber activities.
  • Uniform practices and policies across the network.
  • Dependable governance procedures.
  • Distinctive brand identity.
  • A competitive edge against other business organizations.
  • A stronger “voice of business” in your community.
  • An increased role in national and international policy advocacy.

The Oakville Chamber of Commerce truly values its members and maintaining this Accreditation of Distinction is an essential part of this ongoing commitment.

 


The Governor General of Canada Visits Oakville

Governor GeneralThe Oakville Community Foundation, in partnership with the Oakville Chamber of Commerce, welcomed His Excellency, the Right Honourable David Johnston to Oakville on the evening of December 15. With 650 guests in attendance at the Oakville Conference Centre, His Excellency addressed the Syrian refugee crisis and Canada’s resettlement plan.

In his speech, Mr. Johnston iterated that the refugees aren’t numbers – they’re people who have specific needs. He further called upon communities to focus on those needs, and match them with the extraordinary outpouring of generosity from people in Oakville, as well as across Canada.

Following the Governor General’s address, Wendy Rinella, CEO of Oakville Community Foundation, announced the Oakville Resettlement Fund which will make grants to registered charities who are playing a role in refugee re-settlement issues, needs and solutions in the Oakville community.

Below is the Governor General of Canada’s Address:

What a pleasure it is to be here in Oakville with all of you to talk about giving a warm welcome to Syrian refugees.

Let me say how wonderful it is that many of you have travelled here today from other communities in the region. It’s so important that we share our best thinking and work together.

This of course isn’t the first time you’ve gathered to discuss refugee resettlement. And  what you’ve achieved herewith the Oakville Resettlement Fund—which is one of many across the country—is so impressive. Bravo to everyone involved!

As you know, two weeks ago we held a forum at Rideau Hall on welcoming Syrian refugees to Canada. And at that event, I called this humanitarian effort a defining moment for our country.

What do I mean by that?

I mean that it’s a moment to reflect upon our fundamental values as Canadians;

to test the depth of our commitment to diversity, inclusiveness and tolerance;

and to demonstrate our willingness, and our ability, to help people in desperate need.

Let me pause there for a moment and share with you an important point made by one of our panellists at the Rideau Hall forum: Conrad Sauvé of the Canadian Red Cross.

“We’re dealing with people who are fleeing war,” he said. “Nobody wants to leave their home. They’re leaving because they don’t have a choice, because they’ve lost hope.”

But he added:

“Their hope now is Canada.”

Mr. Sauvé has been to the refugee camps, and his was an important reminder that refugees aren’t numbers, they’re people—people who have very specific needs.

Our job is to focus on those needs, and to match those needs with the extraordinary outpouring of generosity coming from people here in Oakville and right across Canada.

Without a doubt, we are caring—now we have to be smart about it.

Now, let me build on the idea that this is a defining moment for Canada and for communities such as this one.

Because it’s something else too.

It’s an opportunity.

This is an opportunity to strengthen communities throughout southern and southwestern Ontario and right across the country;

to re-imagine how we care for the marginalized and vulnerable among us;

and to reaffirm our cities and towns as smart and caring communities that balance both equality of opportunity and excellence.

On this, let me again invoke the resettlement funds that many of your communities are creating. While these funds are being created as a response to the needs of Syrian refugees, they can also be used for future resettlement challenges and to strengthen inclusiveness overall.

So this is a great example of what I mean when I say we have an opportunity to build our communities for the future.

All of you who are here today understand that this is both a challenge and an opportunity for our respective communities.

So how do we proceed?

Let me share a few insights and ideas that were shared by those who attended the refugee forum at Rideau Hall. They are leaders in the field, some of Canada’s best and brightest when it comes to welcoming and integrating refugees.

These insights and ideas can be grouped into three broad themes or categories: coordination, inclusiveness and communication. Naturally, they overlap to some degree.

First, the importance of coordinating our efforts. This of course means working together, but it also means not reinventing the wheel. This may be the first time your community has welcomed large numbers of refugees, but ask yourselves what kind of resources and organizations already exist here that you can adapt, leverage and build upon. This includes organizations that don’t have refugee or humanitarian causes in their mandates. What skills and facilities already exist that could be put to good use?

One aspect of coordination comes in paying close attention to your local strengths and limitations. As with most of the challenges we face in Canada, one size does not fit all. Why would refugee settlement be any different?

The community of Oakville, for example, has specific strengths that can be leveraged to great effect. Focus on using those unique strengths to support the areas where you or nearby communities may be lacking.

The second theme I want to emphasize is the importance of inclusiveness. This is so important. After all, inclusiveness is really just another way of saying “community,” and this is where the expertise of so many people in this room can be invaluable. Being successfully inclusive is a community effort, from the services a city or town can provide—language lessons, resource centres, recreation—to the critical role of the private sector.

The centrality of finding employment was one of the points raised at the Rideau Hall forum. Employers can play a key role by hiring refugees, holding an open house, acting as mentors, and creating welcoming workplaces.

On this, we’re very fortunate in Canada to have a strong appreciation of diversity in the workplace. As Margaret Eaton, the executive director of the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council pointed out at the forum, employers understand that talent is what matters, which means that highly-skilled and educated Syrian refugees can be a strong asset to any organization.

Let me move to my third theme: the critical importance of communication.

Before the discussions got underway at the Rideau Hall forum, we watched a video message recorded specially for the occasion by a representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, who simply said:

“What we need most in times of turmoil are visible signs of solidarity.”

It was a reminder not only that the world is watching Canada, but also of the key role communications play in the effort to welcome and settle refugees.

This means a number of things.

One, it means clearly communicating our plans and initiatives to each other, a point which goes back to the need for coordination.

Two, it also means effectively communicating with refugees themselves, a requirement that underscores the need for interpreters and translation services.

And three, it means paying attention to how we communicate with the general public.

In this, as in all of our efforts to create a more just society, the message must be that helping those in need helps us all. It’s not a zero-sum equation, or an either/or situation. Rather, the more we’re able to integrate and support those in need, the more we create prosperity across our society. This is especially true given our changing demographics in Canada, as well as our vast geography.

So with this in mind, I’d like to challenge all of you to find ways to talk to the people who aren’t in this room—your neighbours, members of your community, your kids’ hockey coach or the people you see at the dog park. Make the case to as many people as you can as to why this is both the right and the bright thing to do.

Because in the end, a refugee family is no different than a family of recent immigrants or a family that has been here for generations: all seek a better life for themselves and their children, and all contribute through their striving for a stronger, more prosperous Canada.

Quite simply, this is the story of our country, past, present and future. And just as we look back with pride on the welcome that was given to Vietnamese boat people or that the First Nations gave to early settlers who were starving and dying of scurvy in the 17th century, your grandchildren and your grandchildren’s grandchildren will look back on this as a moment when we did the right thing.

Let it be known: to help people in need is to be on the right side of history.

On that note, I think of the nationwide My Giving Moment campaign, which aims to celebrate and inspire giving by encouraging people to share their stories of helping others.

We can think of this effort to welcome and resettle Syrian refugees as one giant My Giving Moment for Canada. What a wonderful display of empathy and generosity to inspire not just all Canadians, but the world!

You are leaders in your communities in various fields in the public, private and non-profit sectors. You are committed to successful refugee settlement and to ensuring an inclusive society for all. You know how important this work is, and you know that individual Canadians will determine the extent of our success in this project.

We must seize this window of opportunity. As you all know, right now there is a sense of momentum among Canadians, but we can’t be sure it will be there in two weeks or a month. We must make the most of it.

I know we can and will, because the cause and the company are very good.

Now let me close with a story that inspires me that comes from this part of the province. This being southern Ontario, no doubt you’re all familiar with the Mennonite tradition of barn-raising.

The story is set just outside Waterloo, where my wife, Sharon, and I lived on a farm before our move to Ottawa.

One day, our neighbour, Edgar—a kind and generous member of the local Mennonite community—was over at our house while Sharon was going over the budget for our farm. At one point, she asked Edgar, “How much would it cost to replace the barn?” Edgar replied, “Why do you need to know?” To this, Sharon explained that she was trying to reduce our farm’s operating costs, and so was going over the insurance portfolio.

For this, she needed to put a price on the barn in the event that it burned down. Edgar replied that there was no need to put a price on the barn, because if it burned down, the neighbours and community members would volunteer their time and recycled lumber to come together to replace it, free of charge.

He then hesitated for a moment, before adding, “Put $2,000 down because we’ll need to buy new asphalt shingles.”

Now, this story may seem extraordinary, but everywhere I go in this country, I see evidence of this impulse to help others, and how it is both generous and practical. It has led me to see barn-raising as a metaphor for how we can build a smarter, more caring Canada.

The welcome that people in this community and right across the country are giving to Syrian refugees is a great example of barn-raising. Quite literally, you’re putting roofs over the heads of those who have lost everything.

A warm Canadian welcome in a cold Canadian winter—what could be more fitting?

Canada’s diverse, tolerant, multicultural society is one of our great strengths and perhaps our greatest contribution to the world.

That’s why it’s so important that we succeed in welcoming refugees.

That, and simply because it’s the right thing to do.

I’m so glad you’re all here today for those people in need, and for Canada.

Let’s work together and meet this defining giving moment for our country head-on.

Thank you.

 


Governor General of Canada to visit Oakville

Governor General of CanadaThe Oakville Community Foundation, in partnership with the Oakville Chamber of Commerce, is honoured to present a thought-provoking keynote address by His Excellence the Right Honourable David Johnston. The Governor General of Canada will speak about the community effort to welcome Syrian refugees to Canada.

This dinner event will take place Tuesday, December 15 at the Oakville Conference Centre, starting at 5:30pm with registration and reception. Business attire is recommended. Purchase tickets online or call the Oakville Chamber at (905)845-6613.

About the Governor General of Canada

David Johnston began his professional career as an assistant professor in the Faculty of Law at Queen’s University in 1966, moving to the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law in 1968. He became dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Western Ontario in 1974. In 1979, he was named principal and vice-chancellor of McGill University, and in July 1994, he returned to teaching as a full-time professor in the McGill Faculty of Law. In June 1999, he became the fifth president of the University of Waterloo.

Mr. Johnston has served on many provincial and federal task forces and committees, and has also served on the boards of a number of public companies. He was president of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada and of the Conférence des recteurs et des principaux des universités du Québec. He was the founding chair of the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy and chaired the federal government’s Information Highway Advisory Council.

His academic specializations include securities regulation, information technology and corporate law. Mr. Johnston holds an LL.B. from Queen’s University (1966); an LL.B. from the University of Cambridge (1965); and an AB from Harvard University (1963). While at Harvard, he was twice selected for the All-American hockey team and was named to Harvard’s Athletic Hall of Fame. He was the first non-American to chair Harvard’s Board of Overseers.

He is the author or co-author of 24 books including new editions, holds honorary doctorates from over 20 universities and is a Companion of the Order of Canada.

He was born in Sudbury, Ontario, and is married to Sharon Johnston. They have five daughters and 12 grandchildren.

Sworn in on October 1, 2010, His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston is the 28th governor general since Confederation.