The 2017 Equestrian Canada (EC) Annual Convention, hosted in partnership with Horse Council British Columbia (HCBC) kicked off on Friday, April 7 in Vancouver, BC, and is set to provide the Canadian equestrian community with three days of exceptional educational opportunities, collaborative sessions, and social and networking events.

To officially open the Convention, EC Vice President, Tony Eames and CEO, Eva Havaris provided delegates with Opening Remarks on the morning of April 7.

Opening Address from the Board: Moving Forward Through Participation & Engagement

Eames took to the stage first, and spoke to the partnership with HCBC in hosting this year’s Convention.

“My first official duty is to offer, on behalf of EC’s Board, a heartfelt vote of thanks to the members of Horse Council BC for jointly hosting our Convention this year,” said Eames. “Without their incredible support, we could not have put together a Convention agenda that’s as good as I think it is.”

Eames next delivered a speech on behalf of EC President, Jorge Bernhard, who was unable to attend the Convention due to pressing business that required international travel in his capacity as Chairman of the Board for Nicaragua’s largest power generation and distribution company.

Bernhard’s speech reviewed his history with EC, as a Board member and more recently as President, and discussed the reorganization of EC that began in 2015 with a taskforce responsible for transitioning EC under the new Canadian Not-for-profit Act, and implementing a leaner and more efficient governance model.

All in all, I believe our current model is a good one. It is a better model, a more representative model, and one that was endorsed by our key stakeholders at the time. Some difficult decisions have been made, some passionate arguments have taken place, and we have faced some strong opinions and criticisms from segments of our community.

Has it all worked perfectly? Of course not… That said I am convinced that a lot of really good work has been done and much progress made. We have a much more engaged community. We have excellent support from many members of our community. We also have detractors, as many organizations have – the dissenting voices making their grievances felt in no uncertain terms. I believe this is a good sign; a sign of engagement and interest in the development of the organization.

So, I hope that this convention will provide the forum to help us all make EC a better Federation and a stronger, more unified community. We urge your participation and your input. It’s not too difficult to be critical, but it is a hard job to make things work. We need everyone’s help to continue and improve on what we have done up to now and how we can best move forward.

To read Jorge Bernhard’s full speech, delivered by Tony Eames, click here.

Opening Address from Eva Havaris: Building an EC Community

Eva Havaris took to the stage next, delivering opening remarks and setting the stage for the key sessions of the day, a three-part series on organizational change and alignment around Building a Unified Canadian Equestrian Community by Victor Rosansky – President of LHR International, and an internationally renowned speaker and consultant who has dedicated his career to helping some of the world’s biggest companies (including Verizion, Walmart and FedEx) overcome challenges and achieve alignment and unity.

The main points covered by Havaris included the following excerpts:

The past year has been a challenging one for everyone, coloured with many highs and lows. Suffice to say this past year has demanded patience, focus, reflection and resolve from many different EC contributors, including the Board, volunteers and staff. It has challenged all of us, personally and professionally.

As I expressed to the hiring committee in my interviews almost three years ago, changes and improvements were possible, but it would not be easy and it would require a team effort. So here we are today at Convention, almost two years to the date from that first meeting of the By-laws Taskforce, and we are at a similar junction with a similar opportunity before us. Where does the organization go from here?

It is our hope that this Convention serves as a critical turning point in the organization. We have built the Convention program over the next few days to create the environment for meaningful dialogue between the different sectors in the organization with a focus on finding solutions.

We want to Build an EC Community.

We need your help to determine the way forward from here. What should the priorities of EC be? We are here to listen to all points of view, so together we can help EC get to the next level of performance. Some of you may be feeling pessimistic. Others may be excited to get started. I can tell you that at our first meeting of the By-laws Taskforce in 2015, the 20 people in the room that showed up were very skeptical about the process, pessimistic about our ability to achieve a common vision, and were utterly worn out by EC. Sound familiar?

By the end of the process, we had become a team. We had achieved our mandate and the By-laws were nearly unanimously supported by those who engaged in the vote. That’s what is possible for this organization to achieve because we’ve done it before. And the first step starts today.

To read Eva Havaris’ full speech, click here.