by Doug Piquette, Executive Director, ERIEC
Last Thursday, October 31st, members of the Edmonton business community had the opportunity to listen to Venture publisher and president, Ruth Kelly speak about the business advantages for diversifying their employee workforces here in Alberta.
“My maternal great-grandparents immigrated to Alberta from what was then the Austro-Hungarian Empire. They crossed a turbulent ocean and the vast empty expanse that was Canada at the turn of the century to arrive at what is now Stony Plain, Alberta where they struck a homestead. They left their home, friends and family and came to this strange and sometimes forbidding land because they believed that there could be something better, something sweeter”, she shared with the audience.
“Our challenges are different than those faced by Alberta’s pioneers. Our task is not to break land but to break technological frontiers, not to explore unknown mountain ranges but to explore the potential of the human mind and spirit, not to discover deposits of gold but to discover the richness of a society that fosters and encourages diversity, individuality and innovation”, she stated.
This was the third Annual Business Leader’s breakfast for ERIEC which drew a crowd of 50 employers from various industry sectors and was held at the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce conference room located downtown at the World Trade Centre. Ms. Kelly’s keynote presentation focused primarily on our current demographic and workforce realities in Alberta but she also shared her perspectives on why local business leaders should hire, integrate and retain skilled immigrant employees in the workplace. She told the audience that it would be beneficial for both businesses and for the province if immigrants were to be considered not just as a source of labor but as potential citizens.
ERIEC’s objective of the annual breakfast is to create awareness by sharing information, trends and local strategies with the local business community regarding the range of talented, educated and experienced internationally trained professionals that make the Edmonton region their home.
“This province was built by brilliant, brave, entrepreneurial individuals who seized their opportunity to carve a future from this abundant land. We are the inheritors of that legacy. I believe with all my heart that we are capable of and eager to create an exciting, compelling, engaging future”, Ms. Kelly emphasized in her keynote address.