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Island economic summit speakers to discuss disruption, digital innovation, doughnut economy

Vancouver Island Economic Alliance’s summit to be held virtually Oct. 26-28
The Vancouver Island Economic Summit will be held virtually Oct. 26-28. (News Bulletin file photo)

‘Disruption’ would be a good word to describe the theme of the State of the Island Economic Summit 2021.

This year’s summit happens Tuesday to Thursday, Oct. 26-28, but instead of a gathering of presenters and attendees and between-session exhibits at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre, COVID-19 pandemic safeguards have disrupted those plans and pushed the event online and virtual for the second year running.

The virtual summit opens Tuesday with Stories of Digital Innovation from Island entrepreneurs who will show and tell how Island-based companies achieve amazing feats with evolving digital technology that has even taken the concept of the office into the digital realm.

The summit agenda gets busier Wednesday and Thursday, with speakers, presentations, round-tables, networking opportunities and more all day long.

Wednesday’s keynote presentation is at 3:30 p.m., when Premier John Horgan will address delegates.

The day begins, though with a talk with particular local interest, centring on ‘doughut economics.’ Nanaimo city councillors Tyler Brown and Ben Geselbracht will be guest panelists, as Nanaimo is the first Canadian city to adopt the framework. Carlota Sanz, co-founder of Doughnut Economics Action Lab, will present the vision of doughnut economics and how action on the concept is laying the groundwork to create “ecologically safe and socially just communities.”

The Indigenous economy and how First Nations on the Island are expanding economic activities in traditional and non-traditional industries will be presented by panelist from the Huu-ay-aht, Malahat First Nations and Snuneymuxw First Nation’s Petroglyph Development Group.

As the pandemic continues, there will be discussion about working from home. Some are wondering about tensions arising between employees who stayed at job sites and those who worked remotely during the pandemic. A talk about return-to-work strategies and related mental health considerations will help employers identify workplace mental health issues and the tools and strategies to address mental health concerns in the work environment.

The Geography of Disruption is a session exploring how the forces of “disruptive innovation and dematerialization” might save the planet from sustainability models that are themselves showing signs of being unsustainable.

Disruptions in how Canadians shop and buy food is explored in Wednesday’s opening keynote presentation, It’s Good to Produce Goods, by Sylvain Charlebois, Dalhousie University professor and senior director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab. Charlebois will also engage in discussion about food systems opportunities for the Island.

Supply chain disruptions and worries about quality and reliability of imported goods will be presented by Island Good. The initiative is raising public awareness and, with local government sponsorship, Island Good producers and retailers are seeing sales increases and market expansion. The Island Good: Recipes for Success panel discussion happens Thursday afternoon.

Susan Mowbray, partner and senior economist with MNP LLP will close the summit when she presents the VIEA’s seventh ‘State of the Island’ economic report highlighting the rapid changes happening in the Island’s new COVID economic landscape.

For more on the Vancouver Island Economic Summit and how to register, visit

READ ALSO: Vancouver Island Economic Summit decides on an all-virtual event

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Chris Bush

About the Author: Chris Bush

As a photographer/reporter with the Nanaimo News Bulletin since 1998.
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