Marion Bremner (Photo/Kelowna Chamber)

Kelowna trail blazer named Business Leader of the Year for 2021

Bremner was the first woman director and president at Kelowna Chamber

The Kelowna Chamber has named Meals on Wheels Kelowna manager Marion Bremner Business Leader of the Year for 2021.

“The chamber is absolutely delighted at the choice of Marion as our 2021 Business Leader of the Year,” said Pamela Pearson, incoming chamber president. “Her selection by our independent judging committee was unanimous, and what a stellar choice it is. I am honoured to announce her award during International Women’s Week. We are so pleased that a former Chamber president, and the first woman to fill that position, is being recognized.”

Bremner was born in Herbert, Sask., grew up in Didsbury, Alta., and after graduating from high school moved to Calgary where she was hired in 1964 by the Royal Bank. She was transferred to Kelowna in 1974 and became a bank manager in 1976, making her only the second woman in the Okanagan to reach that position with RBC at the time. Bremner became the first woman director of the Kelowna Chamber in 1978. When she arrived for her first board meeting, which happened to be at the Kelowna Club, it was an exclusive men’s club, no women allowed. Meeting venues were quickly changed. Bremner became the first woman chamber president in 1985.

After two unsuccessful runs for Kelowna mayor in 1984 and 1986, Bremner was elected to council in 1988, followed by three more terms for a total of 11 years as a councillor. In 1990, she founded Habitat for Humanity in Kelowna and went on to become the first woman Chair of Habitat Canada and secretary for Habitat International (’96-’01) representing Canada and building homes with former U.S. President Jimmy Carter around the world.

In 2000, the founders of Meals on Wheels asked the Kiwanis High Noon Club to take over the operation of the program. The Kiwanis agreed and hired Bremner as manager. She created the City of Kelowna Book of Remembrance and Salute to all the Heroes during the wildfires of 2003, partnering with Interior Savings Credit Union and Capital News. Bremner was a finalist for Woman of the Year in 2004 and a licensed realtor from 2004 to 2014.

Bremner will be honoured during the Kelowna Chamber’s Business Excellence Awards on Mar. 30 at the Grand Okanagan Resort.

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