They have different backgrounds and interests and are excelling at a wide variety of careers, but some of the qualities the winners of the inaugural Future 15 awards have in common are a passion for Campbell River, a desire to give back and ideas for how to ensure our community’s future is bright.
These characteristics and many more were celebrated Feb. 19 during the Campbell River and District Chamber of Commerce’s Future 15 celebration at the Maritime Heritage Centre.
The awards were open to young professionals between the ages of 19 and 45, and the Chamber received 52 nominations. The 15 winners were: Dr. Hanif Paroo, a doctor of optometry at IRIS Discovery Harbour; Ahmed Siah, a research scientist at the BC Centre for Aquatic Health Sciences; Amanda May Raleigh, culture and community manager at Broadstreet Properties; Amber Zirnhelt, community planning and development services manager at the City of Campbell River; Derek Lamb, a chartered professional accountant with Chan Nowosad Boates; Dr. Tanya Flood, an optometrist at FYidoctors Campbell River; Karen Stewart, a chartered professional accountant with Chan Nowosad Boates; Erica Chan-Lafrance, a partner at Chan Nowosad Boates; Curtis Wilson, an artist, referrals officer for the Nanwakolas Council and elected councillor for the Campbell River Band; Myriah Foort, finance manager at the City of Campbell River; Rachel Blaney, MP for North Island-Powell River; Dr. Robin James Evans of Novos Innovations; Shannon Baikie; regional manager of community and labour market services with North Island Employment; Heather Brown, a research assistant at the BC Centre for Aquatic Health Sciences; and Wyth Marshall, a research scientist with the BC Centre for Aquatic Health Sciences.
Colleen Evans, president and CEO of the Campbell River and District Chamber of Commerce, found the event very inspiring.
“Being in that room and hearing [about the winners], I think that was such a big part of why this was so important to do,” she said. “If you’re not in that network, you’re not aware of the incredible contributions and talent in our community.”
This is the first time young professionals are being honoured like this, and Evans says there are three main reasons the Chamber of Commerce wanted to put on these awards.
“No. 1 was to profile people in our community who are already contributing to a healthy economy, a positive environment and have a deep commitment to volunteerism,” she said. “From the Chamber’s perspective, we need a vibrant workforce to meet the needs of our employers; we need to attract and retain young professionals in our community to meet the needs of those employers. And we need to have young people engaged in the community through volunteerism – they’re our future board members, they’re our future councillors, they’re the future philanthropists in our community.”
Evans says the Chamber wants to keep working with the winners and will create a group for the Future 15 alumni so they can get together and discuss issues such as social enterprise, social innovation, education and business development over the next year.
“These are 15 people to watch over the next couple of years. These are people that are shaping what’s going to happen in Campbell River.”