What defines a Cowichan Changemaker?
Our Changemakers are the influencers, activators, connectors and innovators within the Cowichan Valley. Whether working in business or volunteering for community organizations, they are the builders and collaborators who embody new ways of doing things. Changemakers see the potential that others miss and they connect the dots between people and ideas. Join us in celebrating and learning about the people who are shaping the future of the Cowichan Region.
Meg Cuthbert and Dan Pender | Potentially Famous Productions
Coming home to start a business
Dan Pender was born and raised in Cowichan but left to pursue opportunities in audio and video production in Victoria and Vancouver. Eventually, the desire to be near family and to live in a smaller and more affordable community led him to return with his partner Meg, a writer and video journalist. They had dreamed of setting up a recording and video production facility, but hadn’t been able to afford it in the city. Could they make it work in Cowichan? There was only one way to find out.
Their company, Potentially Famous Productions, has been working with local businesses and musicians and is starting to attract clients from outside the region. And while there are challenges to being slightly off the beaten track, Dan and Meg believe they can make it work – for them, being able to live in the place they love is well worth an extra investment in ingenuity, creativity and effort.
Creating exceptional local theatre for 25 years
Chemainus Theatre, like so many artistic endeavours, started small. Their first production was performed on the streets of Chemainus. By 1993, the theatre had created its own home, an award-winning building in the heart of the town. While early days were difficult and required huge commitment and hard work on the part of founders Ken Smith and LaVerne Erikson, the theatre has become one of Cowichan’s premier attractions.
Over the past 25 years, the theatre has presented hundreds of critically acclaimed shows ranging from mysteries to musicals. Its annual Christmas productions have become a family tradition around the region, as have its many musicals. Behind the scenes, hundreds of volunteers put in thousands of hours so that the shows can go on, and the founders continue to be involved as Directors at Large. As an artistic venue, a tourist attraction and a supporter of the arts, the Chemainus Theatre is truly one of the jewels in Cowichan’s crown.
Building an inclusive, dynamic workplace
Gordon Smith, owner of Cowichan Woodworks Limited, is a highly talented artisan and entrepreneur who constantly pushes his limits, reinventing his business and embracing cutting-edge technologies. Thanks to his forward-thinking approach, his company has become renowned for its extraordinary custom millwork and beautiful high-end cabinetry.
In the summer of 2017, Gordon was honoured to receive the inaugural Champion of Inclusion Award from the Cowichan Intercultural Society in recognition of his efforts to bring new workers from across the globe to his Cobble Hill location. “Of course I want to hire workers who are motivated to do well and create a better life for their families,” he says. “But if I can offer them a fresh start and a welcome to life in Canada, then it’s a win-win for everyone.” For Gordon, it’s all part of making his company the best it can be.