Dear Members and Friends,
As we start off 2018, I have the pleasure to share with you the highlights of a very busy and successful 2017 for the BCBC. For the third year in a row, we have held a significant number of high-caliber events, and have continued to build on new initiatives to serve you better.
We have continued to seek out new partnerships adding Nourish Food Marketing and the Organization of Women in International Trade (OWIT) to our repertoire of partners, and we continue to explore several exciting opportunities. We have also engaged in a number of activities with our various partners this year, including supporting Brussels Airlines in the inaugural North American edition of their Bike 4 Africa charity fundraiser. Please visit our website to find out the great benefits these partnerships can offer you.
2017 marked the 150th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada, and along with the rest of the country, we participated in celebrations over the summer, both with our new partners from OWIT as well as at the National Club of Canada’s Gala, thanks to one of our founders, Mr. Lionel Goffart. In addition to being “Canada 150”, 2017 also marked the 100th Anniversary of the Battles of Passchendaele, some of the defining battles of World War I for Canada, and along with the Battles of Ypres, paved the way for the strong ties which Belgium and Canada enjoy today. Both Passchendaele and Ypres were commemorated across Canada, including a “Belgian Pavilion” in Ottawa which was opened by H.E. Raoul Delcorde, Ambassador of Belgium to Canada, and which included scale models of the battlegrounds as well as various photos and memorabilia from the battles.
We have continued our very successful Business with Belgium series, with the May edition providing a special insider’s look at CETA, presented by fellow Belgian, H.E. Marie-Anne Coninsx, Ambassador of the European Union to Canada. During her four-year term in Canada, she was at the forefront of the final phases of CETA negotiations and the implementation of this ground-breaking new trade agreement, often referred to as the benchmark for future FTAs. Although her duties were to the European Union as a whole, she was always a stalwart supporter of her fellow countrymen, and we were sorry to see her come to the end of her tenure during the summer. We wish her all of the best with her future postings and endeavors.
For the sixth year, we partnered with the International Economic Forum for the Americas on their Toronto Global Forum, which is committed to heighten knowledge and awareness of the major issues concerning economic globalization, with a particular emphasis on the relations between the Americas and other continents. We also partnered with the Economist for their third Canada Summit this September, having partnered with them in each of the previous editions, as well as with The Change Leadership Conference in May.
It is noteworthy that organizations such as Export Development Canada, CIMA Canada, and IE Canada continue to attend our events; this shows us that other organizations are being drawn to our doorstep as a resource for international learning and networking. We continue to be recognized as the go-to organization for guidance and representation of all things Belgian.
In addition to our recurring series – Belgians in Canada (BIC), Business with Belgium (BWB), and Frites Night – we have partnered on several events with our friends and partners, with topics as diverse as FX & FinTech solutions for both individuals and companies, developing a global mindset, how to export and an EU-Canada Feasibility Study on Mineral Investments. CHOQ-FM once again asked us to take part in the launch of their new program schedule, with an increased focus on current events and/or business affairs; as we partnered with them a number of times this past year on such topics, they requested that we speak to our collaboration.
In November 2015, we held our first-ever charitable event; a fundraiser benefitting the Labatt Family Heart Centre for Sick Kids Hospital for whom we managed to raise $1,398. Due to the success of this event, we decided to make this an annual undertaking, and moved it to the more symbolic date of December 6th, better known in Belgium as Saint-Nicholas; as the patron saint for children, it seems only fitting that we come together as a community to support Sick Kids on this date. For the third year in a row, we were able to increase the amount of money raised, reaching $1,800; thank you all for your support in this effort. This year we had two Premium Prizes: a pair of round-trip Toronto-Brussels tickets offered by Brussels Airlines, and a pair of tickets to the iHeartRadio Jingle Ball. A special thanks goes out to all of our sponsors who provided us with food, drinks and raffle prizes.
As some may recall, in 2010 the chamber was on the verge of closure. At the end of 2015 we closed the renaissance phase of the BCBC, having successfully rebuilt it to be one of the most active and vibrant European chambers in Canada. 2016 saw the start of the next phase of growth and expansion, in which we will be offering more and new services for business, more opportunities to network and learn, more events, and more added value for your BCBC membership. This phase has continued to progress steadily throughout 2017, and we are going to continue to build a solid reputation as the go-to point of contact for both Canadian companies wanting to do business with Belgium as well as Belgian companies expanding into Canada. We continue to maintain and foster a strong relationship with our various Trade Commissioners throughout Canada such that we may all provide as comprehensive a resource as possible. We thank you for your continued support as we continue to build a better and stronger Belgian Canadian Business Chamber
Without our sponsors much of what we do would not be possible. We are very thankful for the continued support from our sponsors: Brussels Airlines, Labatt, AGFA Gevaert, Aird & Berlis LLP, Dentons LLP, KPMG, YAOL, Nigel Bagley Graphic Design, Puratos, McCain, Atlas Copco, Goslett Wong – Business Immigration Law Group, MTFX, HRWare, Gerrard-Boden Management, Groupe Estelle de France, Mardalvi, TWC International Executive Search, A. Hartrodt, and Léon Collet Translation.
2017 has been an exciting year, and we are already getting geared up for an even more exciting 2018. We really do appreciate your feedback; I encourage you to get in touch with us via the “Contact Us” page on our website and let us know what you’d like from your Chamber. We have also begun a modernization project of our website, so please let us know what you’d like to see. If you haven’t already done so, I invite you to join our social networks on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
I look forward to seeing each and every one of you at our upcoming Wine & Food with the Belgians on January 24th!
All the best for 2018,
André van der Heyden
Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer
Belgian Canadian Business Chamber