Dear Members and Friends,
As we start off 2019, I have the pleasure to share with you the highlights of a very busy and successful 2018 for the BCBC. For the fourth 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.
For the second year in a row, we opened our “events season” with a “Wine & Food with the Belgians”, hosted by our friends at Dentons. This is a great opportunity to not only take care of your membership, but to also have a great time with your friends from the BCBC community and exploring different wines and cheeses. We will be hosting such an event again this January 24th, and I look forward to seeing each and every one of you there. This year’s Guest of Honour will be the Ambassador’s wife, Ms. Kathleen Billen, author of “.be our guest – the ambassadors of Belgian hospitality”, which highlights Belgium’s exquisite gastronomic products and features recipes from Michelin-starred Belgian chefs!
We have continued to seek out new partnerships adding CFO Source and Tailwinds Accounting 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 joint events with OWIT, EUCCAN, and our fellow EU Chambers in Canada. Please visit our website to find out the great benefits these partnerships can offer you.
2018 marked the 100th Anniversary of some of the major battles of World War I and most importantly, the Armistice ending “The Great War”, and along with the rest of the world, we participated in celebrations, notably VisitFlanders’ “Centennial Designation of Peace Year” celebrations in March. In rather stark contrast to the quiet reflections on peace and remembrance of those who sacrificed on the behalf of their contemporaries which accompany any celebration of large-scale conflict, 2018 also provided for much more light-hearted and animated celebration as national teams battled it out on the fields of the FIFA World Cup; with a strong team, the Belgian Red Devils were considered strong contenders for the title, and Belgians throughout Canada and the world rode a roller-coaster of emotions as the Red Devils fought their way through the field, finishing a respectable third.
We have continued our very successful Business with Belgium series, exploring the opportunities and challenges of CETA, and with the October edition taking a look at the EU’s new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This look considered both the impact which GDPR would have on Canadian companies doing business in Europe, as well as how GDPR might serve as a template for Canada’s efforts to update our own e-privacy regulations.
For the seventh 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.
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 how philanthropy could apply the lessons and methods of the for-profit sector, developing a global mindset and exporting through Canada’s progressive trade agenda and the gastronomic economies of European countries. 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 fourth year in a row, we carried on this tradition, and in this time have raised approximately $6000 for this worthy cause; thank you all for your support in this effort. 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 2018, 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, The Belgian Chocolate Shop, 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.
2018 has been an exciting year, and we are already getting geared up for an even more exciting 2019. 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 2019,
André van der Heyden
Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer
Belgian Canadian Business Chamber