I came in as President this time last year, not having been on the committee in previous year so personally felt it took some time to get settled in to the role. I am looking forward to the coming year with a little more confidence and moreover clarity as to what we need to try and achieve. In terms of the year gone by highlights included the following:
New Arrivals Group. Declan, Carolyn and Deirdre’s committee did great work on this front and certainly in the early part of the year this was a key area where we as a Chamber could point to achievement and activity. The highlight being the night in January at Grace O’Malley’s with over 300 attendees. There were many other initiatives hosted by Declan & Co including skiing, and we had approx 20 or 30 join up as members because of this.
I think this work directly lead to the realization of the need for a more formal Immigration support structure for new arrivals and between this, and Eamonn planting ideas in Ottawa ears, we now are close to seeing the launch of the Irish Canada Immigration Centre here in Toronto, the “ICIC”. The Chamber is one of 4 founding groups behind this initiative, and I have asked Declan to be our rep on this Board. Eamonn is acting Chairman. It remains to be seen to what extent the Chamber new arrivals committee will continue in the coming year – in theory it is covered off by the ICIC but it would be good to continue some efforts to ensure the Chamber pays attention to the needs of the new arrivals and moreover positions itself as something worth belonging to.
Speaker Series – we struggled in the early part of year to line up speakers. We did have a fairly firm line of communication with David McWilliams but partly because he was considering a run in the Irish elections, it came to nothing. Thankfully since then we managed to line up 4 well attended and well received events in relatively informal settings at PJ O Brien’s; namely Niall McGee, Eddie O’Sullivan, Dominic Hannigan T.D., and most recently the Atlantic Corridor Trade Group.
This format worked very well and although we lost small amounts of on all, it was money well spent. We can tweak the format to break even if needed going forward, and also will seek a sponsor. Special thanks to Kyle and Matthew for lining up the 1st two speakers. Certainly for me Eddie O’Sullivan’s speech was one of the highlights of the year for me. It hit the sweet spot of having relevance to business, and an Irish angle, and just an all round very impressive event.
Other events of note in the past year – last year’s Quiz organised by Michael & Diarmuid was successful as always, as evidenced by early sold out status for this year’s event; also the Golf Day in June, which in part due to some great weather, was one of our best ever. Special thanks to Eamonn and the many volunteers we had on the day for that. Finally in March we had a visit from the ICBA in Dublin, which mostly thanks to leg work on the visitor’s part, was a great success. We co-hosted with E.I. a breakfast for them, Parade Grand Marshal Michael O’Muircheartaigh and our members which went off very well; special thanks to EI for that.
In terms of the year ahead, I would see the following as areas where we need to make progress on:
o Further strengthen ties with other Chambers in Canada, and complete the project part funded by the Irish Government grant. This is the 20th anniversary of the Chambers in Canada – started in Montreal – a meeting of the national Chambers in Montreal on Dec 8th in part to mark this anniversary.
o Continue connections with the ICBA and work on matters of mutual interest. Consider a reciprocal trip to Ireland in 2012 or possibly later.
o Continue a speaker series along the lines of the recent events at PJ’s. It does not always have to be a high profile speaker – just important to provide opportunities for people to meet up and connect. Will look to the Board to play a greater role in ensuring we get the numbers out to these and other events.
o Continue to assist Irish businesses and trade associations seeking to expand in Canada.
o Do more to promote business among our own members. This in part will come from having more events and allowing members opportunity to promote / introduce themselves at such events.
These objectives are likely no different than would be outlined at any AGM in recent years but I hope to assign one or two Board members to champion the specific areas with a view to moving the needle on all fronts in the coming year.
In conclusion I want to thank Eamonn, our Executive Director, also now close to his 20th year for his hard work, good humour and good advice. A big thank you to the Board and a special mention to outgoing directors, Diarmuid Donnelly and Robyn Meredith.
I believe the Chamber has an important role to play in the fabric of the lives of those that choose to get involved with us. The majority of our members were not born or educated in Canada and hence do not have the natural network that one would have if this was the case. The Chamber can go a long way towards filling that gap. Similarly for Canadian born members we offer a great way of expanding one’s network. Given the continuing immigration from Ireland we have a great opportunity to increase our membership and our relevance and in so doing, drive greater value back to our members, which ultimately must be the overarching goal of all that we do.
Chamber Speaker Series
Thursday, January 26th
“Oscar Season – The Movie Biz with an Irish Angle”
Pat Quinn Lounge at P.J. O’Brien’s, 37 Colborne Street
Cocktails: 6:30pm / Speaker Panel: 7:00pm
Tickets (at door only): $20.00 (includes a drink and finger foods)
RSVP to : firstname.lastname@example.org
Please join us in the Pat Quinn Lounge at P.J. O’Brien’s on Thursday January 26th for the latest in our on-going Chamber Speaker Series.
In partnership with the Toronto Irish Film Festival, the evening will feature a panel discussion on film. John Galway, President of the Harold Greenberg Fund (and a proud Chamber member), will moderate the panel.
Confirmed guests include:-
Alex Farrell - Director, Media & Entertainment | RBC Commercial Markets
Tamara Shannon - Vice President of eONE Entertainment, distributor of Irish film Albert Nobbs
Eleanor McGrath - Writer, Producer & Director of Kanata: An Irish Story
In addition to the panel, the Toronto Irish Film Festival will reveal details of its upcoming 2012 festival, as well as provide DVD giveaways.
For more info. email us at: email@example.com
Annual Christmas Party – Friday December 16th
It was a good time and everyone was in the Christmas spirit. Enjoy these images captured by our very own Santa Claus – Smitty.