The Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce has chosen its first year of business hall of fame inductees.
The five people have all proven an exceptional level of leadership in the region’s economic growth and prosperity, the chamber said in a release.
“This first group represents people who were innovators, who broke through barriers and helped our community become the truly extraordinary place it is today,” Chamber CEO Bruce Williams said.
The first inductee, Helen Beirnes, is best known for having established the National Charm and Modeling School, a self-development program for young women across the Island. She also wrote a weekly newspaper column and hosted television shows on Channel 6 and Channel 10.
Beirnes was the first woman to be elected to Victoria council in 16 years in 1976 and was the first woman president of the chamber of commerce from 1971 to 1972. She died in 2013.
Clare Copeland is being recognized for his role in amplifying CFAX radio’s platform by boosting its transmission power, making it a 24-hour station and recruiting unique radio talent. After selling the station, he created Copeland Communications in 1980 and served businesses across B.C. for more than three decades.
Copeland served as chamber president from 1968 to 1970 and sat on the board of directors at St. Michael’s University School, where a theatre is named in his honour. He died in 2010.
A distinguished Victoria lawyer is also being honoured. Ron Lou-Poy is a Victoria College (University of Victoria) graduate and senior partner with Crease Harman and Company. He continued his involvement with the university as a board of governors member and chancellor.
Lou-Poy also played a large part in the reconstruction of the Gate of Harmonious Interest in Victoria’s Chinatown and is an avid promoter of Chinese education and culture. He has received numerous notable awards, including the Order of Canada.
Industrial businesses owner Ian Maxwell is the fourth inductee. He’s the owner of Ralmax Group of Companies, which runs a recycling facility, shipyard, construction company, and property management company, among others, across the Island.
Maxwell has led several business-boosting initiatives, including helping to rescue Point Hope Shipyard from bankruptcy in 2003, taking on one of the largest ever fabrication projects on Vancouver Island in 2020, and acquiring a majority stake in the Harbour Ferry Service in the same year to keep it running.
Lastly, Chief Robert Sam is being recognized for creating a safe and sustainable future for Songhees First Nation. He led the negotiation process to create a settlement with the provincial and federal government over dispossessed land now occupied by the B.C. legislature. He also played a main role in the Te’meux Treaty Association and was a founding member of the First Nations Finance Authority.
Sam created better access to education for Indigenous students, mentoring many young people himself, and helped craft important bylaws for Songhees First Nation. Sam died in 2012.
All inductees will officially be honoured at a gala ceremony in February.
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