Reflections and Gratitude from New Chamber CEO

Written by Leslie Courchesne, CEO of the Tri-Cities Chamber

First published in the Tri-City News on Thursday, September 30, 2021.

Today marks the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. In observance of this day, the Tri-Cities Chamber office is closed as we reflect upon the history and trauma of residential schools in Canada and honour those who were lost and the survivors, families and communities who continue to grieve. It is also Orange Shirt Day, an Indigenous-led commemorative day that opens the door to a global conversation on all aspects of residential schools.

Whether your workplace is open or closed today, we encourage you to reflect upon the importance of this day. You can also help support the Orange Shirt Society in continuing to raise awareness by making a direct donation or purchasing an orange shirt from an official retailer.

During my first month on the job, I have seen — time and time again — that the Tri-Cities business community is full of caring and dedicated individuals, who are committed to helping each other and our communities thrive, through thick and thin.

As the new CEO of the Chamber, I’ve been impressed with how our Board of Directors, Committee Members, and Ambassadors are leaning in to guide and support the organization, rolling up their sleeves to assist on everything from advocacy work to Chamber events and initiatives. Thank you to each and every one of you!

Many of our Chamber members are also stepping up to sponsor or take part in Chamber events and programs, and your continued involvement is so appreciated as we continue to strive to offer strong educational and networking opportunities in a safe manner. Every member and volunteer I’ve met, as well as community leaders and our wonderful staff team, have been so welcoming and supportive as I begin my journey with the Chamber. I am also beyond grateful to past CEO Michael Hind, who continues to field my questions and is so generous with his time.

I look forward to meeting more of our members virtually or in person, getting to know you and your businesses. We have become a trusted information source for our members throughout the pandemic and will continue to provide clear and timely updates, understand and discuss concerns and challenges with our members, and advocate on your behalf at all levels of government, so your business has the support you need to not just recover, but to thrive.

It has not been a quiet month at the Chamber. We were pleased to hold Candidates Debates on September 7, in advance of the federal election. Thank you for submitting your questions, and to the more than 900 of you that watched the debates live and afterwards online. My sincere congratulations to Ron McKinnon, re-elected in Coquitlam — Port Coquitlam and Bonita Zarillo, elected in Port Moody — Coquitlam. I applaud all candidates on their campaigns, and for their courage to run.

As we begin to hold in-person events again, with safety protocols in place — including our recent KICKSTART on September 28 at The Fountainhead Network, and our upcoming Mayors’ BBQ on October 14 at Westwood Plateau Golf & Country Club — we encourage you to join us.

We are also excited to announce that submissions are now being accepted for the 2021 Business Excellence Awards (BEA). Every year, the Chamber recognizes the businesses, organizations and individuals that demonstrate excellence in business and passion for the community with our BEA. Help us celebrate our community’s excellence by extending a nomination to an exceptional individual or organization, or by completing a self-nomination. This year’s winners will be announced at the BEA celebration on January 29, 2022, and the deadline for nominations is October 8. For details, please visit TriCitiesChamber.com.

In addition to in-person events, our popular online events continue as well. I hosted Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart for an online Coffee Talk with our members on September 29, and enjoyed our monthly lunch hour Munch & Mingles, to connect with members.

Our Chamber also offers exceptional programs, benefits, and access to various opportunities, including our popular CEO Roundtable and Business Development Program, the World Trade Centre Vancouver’s Trade Accelerator Program, clubs and events with our Tri-Cities Young Professionals Program, and more.

Safe to say, there is a lot for a new CEO to wrap her head around, but I am absolutely thrilled to be joining the Chamber team! I have lived in Port Moody for 18 years with my husband, raising our two children here, and I love that I am now working on behalf of the communities so near and dear to my heart. Whether you are a solopreneur or work with a multi-branch corporation, if your organization is not yet a Chamber member, please consider joining us. You can reach me at .