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Royal Roads Fellow honored with lifetime achievement award

March 9, 2011
By: 
Amy Dove
Tags: news

It's easy to find a community project in Greater Victoria that Cedric Steele is associated with. It's even easier to find people who happily sing his praises.

Described as a man rich with integrity and community spirit, who is willing and eager to help others in business and in life, the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce is honouring Steele with the Governor's Lifetime Achievement Award.

"It's high praise because when I see the people that I am following they have all done some great things in the community," Steele said. "I feel quite humbled to be in the same group of people."

For Royal Roads University, it's a chance to celebrate one of their own. Steele is a founding member of the Royal Roads Fellows Council, a group of respected business- and community-minded professionals who offer insight and guidance on the university's activities. Many of the members are there because of Steele's recommendation and community standing, said Royal Roads President Allan Cahoon. 

"He's passionate about community. We are delighted he is recognized by the chamber - it's long overdue," he said.

There are many reasons why Steele was selected for this year's award, but they fall into three categories for Bob Skene, a member of the award committee and past chancellor and acting president of Royal Roads. His commitment to the Canadian navy, community organizations such as Salvation Army and the work he did to establish the Faculty of Business at the University of Victoria were all considered.

Appointed an Honorary Captain in 1997, Steele works hard to connect the community to the navy that serves it. He was instrumental in bringing aircraft carriers USS John C. Stennis and USS Abraham Lincoln to Victoria, and ensuring the 5,000 plus crew onboard were well taken care of in 2000. He was also co-chair of the committee that oversaw the navy homecoming statue downtown, a celebration piece that was actually his idea, Skene said. "He has so much empathy for the folks that serve."

In 1999, he was awarded the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal and then a Gold Star in Lieu of second award in 2000 for his work with the aircraft carriers visit that same year. Having spent time as a guest aboard navy vessels, Steele is well aware of the demands on a sailor.  

"The navy wanted to show me what they do," he said. "I experienced all aspects of naval life, from the exercises, to the diplomacy they exerted. I just liked the quality of the people, the dedication and the way that they treated and were treated by a foreign nation."

That dedication to people and community is well reflected in Steele's character, said John Juricic, of Juricic Sehmi Marketing Group, who also sat on the award committee. He met Steele when he first came to Victoria in the early 1980s as a stockbroker looking for a business mentor.

"He provided the guidance, leadership and inspiration that really allowed me to succeed in business for the last 30 years," Juricic says. "He is always optimistic, he is always available. He is just looking for ways to help, all the time."

Steele has consistently provided strong leadership for the chamber and the community, Juricic said. A past president of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce, Steele was also chairman of the Glenlyon-Norfolk School board of governors, chairman of corporate fundraising for Timmy's Telethon, and served six years as a member of the Victoria Police Board among other appointments.

He has been involved with the Canadian Forces Liaison Council since 1994 and was awarded the Canadian Forces Decoration in 2009 for 12 years of service to the Canadian Navy.  In 2002 he was awarded the Golden Jubilee Medal and appointed as a serving member of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem. Steele was the Honorary Consul of the Republic of Latvia with an office in Victoria, B.C. from 2002 to 2010.

He is president of Cedric Steele Realty Ltd., a commercial real estate company, which he founded in 1972. Steele also owns and operates Prospect Lake Golf Course.

The Governor's Lifetime Achievement award recognizes Steele's contributions so far, but the community shouldn't be fooled into thinking he is done, Skene said.

"He's not done yet. This is a lifetime achievement award but he's still got lots of energy and there will be other projects."

Steele's award will be presented during the chambers Gala Awards Ceremony April 19 at the Victoria Conference Centre. For more information go to www.victoriachamber.ca.