I am pleased to report that the 12 month period ending 31 December 2017 was another positive year as the Chamber continued to build on the momentum of the previous year. As a chamber our mandate is to provide a forum for our members to network and promote their business and professional interests, while also supporting the development of enhanced trade links between Ireland and Canada. We also play a part in the wider Irish community in Toronto and look forward to maintaining that in 2018.
The Irish community in Toronto continues to get stronger with a new wave of Irish availing of the opportunity to come here and work in this great city with its diverse population. I feel I should note that the very best of our city has been on display in the last few days since the Yonge-Finch tragedy.
Following on from the comments of Matthew last year, the changing demographic has resulted in us varying the type of events we have run and the speakers and topics we are engaging in.
I’ll touch on some of the events we hosted, while Cathy will give a more detailed summary shortly.
In 2017 we had a fortunate year in the level of interest the Ireland-Canada relationship received from the Governments of both countries. This resulted in the visit of two Taoisigh in the year and great opportunity for the Chamber to host them – with thanks to the Embassy of Ireland and Ambassador Kelly and team and also Enterprise Ireland and Neil Cooney and his team.
We also hosted breakfasts in partnership with IBEC, and WLG Gowling and the Ireland Canada Business Association – the format on these varied from keynote speakers to panels and pure networking. I think we are close to achieving the right balance for our members on the types of events we put forth with 2017 a great example of that.
We continued the Presidents Dinner for the 4th year, with Paul Quigley the CEO and co-founder of Newswhip joining us from Dublin as keynote speaker. I felt this event worked really well with an engaging speaker who was able to provide a level of insight and opinion on how we consume news and the pitfalls within that. I’m really looking forward to continuing to build on this in 2018 with what we hope will be quite a unique event.
From a community perspective we continue to support the Eamonn O’Loghlin Irish Canadian Immigration Centre and the Irish Person of the Year. Where possible we also tried to support other Irish community initiatives based on the limited resources we have available.
On the social front the quiz and Christmas party remain popular with members. We are transitioning the golf event to a society and hope to build on last years activity and add greater structure and numbers in 2018.
For 2018 we will remain true to the mandate as outlined. Areas of focus for me and the board, will be as follows:
- Defining areas of leadership with the Chamber board. The intent here is to allow the board better split the activities and involve the membership in defining how we move forward on key areas. It should allow us develop a more proactive approach. The areas are:
- Govt and Stakeholder relations
- Membership and new arrivals
- Treasurer (already filled by John O’Dwyer)
- Communications and Social Media
- Key Events
- We will have some changes to the board with Kyle McNamara departing to Van Diemens land and Treasa O’Loghlin also stepping down to focus on family and work. We will look to fill these positions in the coming month or so. My thanks to Kyle for his strong support over the years and I wish him the very best on his opportunity in Melbourne. Treasa had a boy approximately 11 months ago and is going to focus on Jack and work for the next couple of years – my thanks also to Treasa.
- Refresh of the existing website. This is underway and a developer is working on it at present. My hope is with a better looking and more intuitive site we can develop it to become a more useful tool in communicating with the membership
- Membership – as a group we need to better define what membership to the ICCCTO means and I am focused on doing that through the refreshed website. I believe a clearer articulation of this in conjunction with the high pedigree of events we are running will help grow the membership and set us up for continued success in years to come.
- Sponsorship – we need to find replacements for some of the pillar sponsorships we have lost in the last 1-2 years (KPMG and likely ScotiaBank). These are a key partner in enabling the chamber provide the events and support is currently does.
- The 5th Annual Presidents Dinner is now booked for Oct 16, 2018 at the National Club. The speaker this year is Donna Dooher, co-owner and executive chef at Mildreds Temple Kitchen, author and former CEO of Restaurants Canada. I am excited about the type of event I think we can make this.
- As Cathy will highlight we (she!) ran our first event focused on our female members. It was a great success and I hope we can develop additional events along this line.
- Golf – The formal golf day has now been replaced by a Golf Society. This was in response to challenges in cost of the event and securing the numbers required in the summer months. This year Rory O’Donovan has stepped up as organiser and captain and is looking to run a number of events starting with an outing in late May.
I would like to thank Cathy Murphy as our executive director – not a great deal happens without Cathy and she has been key in us delivering the events we outlined and the growing the membership from 2016. I would also like to thank the board who all contributed to our success in 2017, I look forward to working together in 2018 to continue making the Chamber a strong part of the Toronto Irish-Canadian business community.