Simard returns as president of Smoky River Chamber

Emily Plihal
Local Journalism
Initiative Reporter

The Smoky River Chamber of Commerce has elected a new executive board and they’re set to work hard on behalf of businesses within the region.

Chamber president Nichole Simard says three individuals were elected at the annual general meeting on Jan. 22, but they are still looking for a treasurer.

“We have a lot of appreciation for our executive board’s hard work in 2023,” says Simard.

“Shout out to Candace Waye who acted as president this past year, and to Joey Sutton who served as our treasurer for three sessions. All the best to Joey in his new endeavours. Candace is now joining our continued efforts in the role of director.”

Simard says she was elected as president, Tatum Small was elected as vice-president, and Anita Portsmouth has agreed to stay on as interim secretary for the time being.

“Tatum Small represents Plain Jane Cannabis and the Honeyfest committee,” says Simard. “Tatum began with just a single location and has now expanded to four locations. I believe this demonstrates her tenacity as a respected entrepreneur, leader, and problem solver.”

Simard says each elected official brings different skillsets and knowledge to their respective roles, making the team strong in their support of local businesses.

“Anita Portsmouth participates in several community initiatives and officially represents Smoky River FCSS (Family and Community Support Services),” she says.

“Anita is one very organized lady, who always brings a unique and thoughtful perspective to our discussions. For myself in the role of president, I represent ATB Financial and Simard Butcher Company, and I specialize in business strategy and finance through my work, and I like to think I bring a strategic mindset and leadership to our team overall.”

Simard says they are hoping to have an open lane of communication available to business owners in the region, and they’re willing to listen to suggestions provided.

“I strongly believe the Chamber is important to our region because local business needs a voice, an advocating body, and the resources that a chamber is meant to provide,” says Simard.

“We’re still growing into that, but we’re starting to put those pieces in place that can really be meaningful and valuable to our member businesses and community partners,” she adds. “It’s not possible without the perspective of our local business owners, and we need their support and participation to keep growing.”

Simard says the Smoky River Chamber of Commerce serves all towns and rural areas within the region, including McLennan, Donnelly Guy, Falher, Girouxville, and Jean Cote.

“We know that many businesses in our region do not call any of those communities home,” she says.

“We are open to supporting and working with all businesses, big or small, town or country.”

A Meet the Chamber night will be held on May 2 from 6-8 p.m. in Falher at the Log Cabin, located next to the Town Office at 15 Central Ave SW.

“(Meet the Chamber is) so that we can get to know our region’s business community better, and vice versa,” she says.

“With a new board and a few vacant roles, it’s important to hear what business owners think and need, and for them to have an opportunity to participate with us.

“We’re also inviting some special guests into town that we work with.”

Simard says people should attend the event if they are a business owner, manager, or decision maker, or if you are a partner or service provider in support of businesses (politicians and economic development professionals), or if you care about growing local business and a growing future for the region.

“The chamber is the voice of local business,” explains Simard. “Once fully established, we can operate Shop Local initiatives, provide resources for barriers business owners face, advocate for policy, serve as a networking platform, and provide a lot of other great resources at discounted rates to our membership. That’s the vision we have for the chamber, and we will achieve it with local participation and support.”

If you have more questions about the event or would like to join the Smoky River Chamber of Commerce, please contact the chamber at

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