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Malahat Nation's Josh Handysides wins chamber award of distinction

Josh Handysides, chief administrative officer for the Malahat First Nation and a driving force behind the Malahat Skywalk attraction and other initiatives, has been given the Greater ­Victoria Chamber of Commerce Award of Distinction.
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Josh Handysides, chief administrative officer of the Malahat First Nation. MALAHAT FIRST NATION

Josh Handysides, chief administrative officer for the Malahat First Nation and a driving force behind the Malahat Skywalk attraction and other initiatives, has been given the Greater ­Victoria Chamber of Commerce Award of Distinction.

Handysides has been ­instrumental in building diverse partnerships between the ­private and public sectors and the Malahat Nation.

“Josh has been the steady hand behind a number of projects that have been game changers for our region,” said John Wilson, chair of the chamber’s board of directors. “The Malahat Skywalk has been a boon for tourism, generating positive publicity on social media as a destination for ­visitors to Vancouver Island.”

The Award of Distinction, sponsored by the Times Colonist, highlights a businessperson who has contributed to Greater Victoria through leadership and vision as a positive role model and a sustained commitment to a prosperous community.

“It’s fitting that the judges saw the value in Josh’s efforts to better connect Indigenous entrepreneurs with our region’s business community,” said Chamber CEO Bruce Williams. “We are committed to taking action to further reconciliation and one way to achieve that is by celebrating the success of Josh and the Malahat Nation. His leadership to bring a film studio that will create hundreds of jobs, and his support of the Spirit Loop marketing campaign are helping our economy build resilience and move forward.”

Handysides has also led initiatives to further environmental stewardship as well as improve opportunities for physical and mental-health care and community safety. He has been integral in working on a proposal for a world-class film studio on Malahat Nation land. The Spirit Loop tourism loop from Victoria to Port Renfrew and Lake Cowichan and down through the Malahat is helping to extend the range of Greater Victoria’s tourism industry while preserving traditional uses of the land and important ecosystems.

The Malahat Nation has also partnered with post-secondary schools to provide trades training for its members and has partnered on an industrial complex that produces environmentally friendly building materials.

“I’m humbled by this recognition and grateful for the help and support of the Malahat Nation,” Handysides said. “The energy and creativity of Indigenous entrepreneurs is a powerful force for our economy and we look forward to continuing to build bridges and showcase initiatives that connect Malahat Nation to its land and traditions.”

The 2022 Business Awards feature 14 categories recognizing businesses that distinguished themselves in customer service, sustainable business practices, emerging professionals and non-profit associations.

In December, Mary Lou Newbold was announced as Chamber Member of the Year for 2022.

Winners are determined by an independent panel of prominent business leaders who serve as judges.

The Chamber’s 2022 Business Awards will be held on May 7 at the Fairmont Empress. The event will be broadcast on CHEK TV.