RED DEER, Alta. – Despite his protests, former City of Regina IT director and past Municipal Information Systems Association (MISA) Prairies president Chris Fisher’s greatness has officially been recognized by the organization he co-founded.
On Tuesday, during the 2018 MISA Prairies Conference, Fisher was given a lifetime membership award by current MISA Prairies president Dan Newton in recognition of his contributions to the chapter, including his leading role in its creation and his years spent on its board of directors.
And just as when he was interviewed by ITBusiness.ca sister publication Municipal Interface, Fisher did his level best to downplay his eligibility for such an award.
“I feel humbled,” Fisher told ITBusiness.ca, “because I know there’s so many other people who also put in time and effort and, in true MISA fashion, worked together to make the organization such a success.”
While accepting the award, which he called an “honour,” Fisher praised MISA Prairies members for their camaraderie and enthusiasm for cooperation – a concept which had been foreign to him during the first 20 years of his career, which included an eight-year stint in the secretive oil and gas industry.
“In the oil and gas sector you couldn’t really share anything with your competitors, and here… we share and we care, and I think that makes us more like a family – a big family – than competitors,” he said. “So the way I look at it, over the last 20 years I’ve really expanded my family, and I really thank you for that.”
As for why he didn’t deserve the sole credit the award implied, Fisher explained that others were involved in MISA Prairies’ creation as far back as 1998 – the year its seeds were planted and a year after he began working with the City of Regina.
It was in 1998, during a conference run by ITBusiness.ca parent ITWC’s president and CMO, Fawn Annan, that Fisher met three other municipal IT workers-turned-MISA heavyweights – former Nanaimo, B.C. technology director Per Christensen; former Region of Peel IT director Roy Wiseman; and former City of Winnipeg IT manager Peter Bennett – who encouraged him to join MISA, which had only two chapters (Ontario and B.C.) at the time (the City of Regina joined MISA Ontario).
Later, when Fisher, Bennett, and other representatives met in Calgary to create MISA Prairies in 2002, it was Christensen who helped the fledgling organization find its wings.
“Just to show you what sort of camaraderie there was between the branches of MISA, B.C. gave us $10,000 to start MISA Prairies,” Fisher said. “And it wasn’t a loan – they just gave us the money and said, ‘we’ll help you however we can.’ So we took their bylaws, et cetera, too. It was very good.”
Fisher was also involved in creating MISA/ASIM Canada, an umbrella organization which includes not only MISA Ontario, MISA B.C., and MISA Prairies, but MISA Atlantic and Quebec’s Réseau de l’informatique municipale du Québec (RIMQ), in 2005.
One aspect of MISA/ASIM Canada that Fisher said has always given him “chills” is the fact that so many of its members run one-, two-, three-, and four-person operations, yet deliver excellent service and show obvious care for their communities regardless.
“I’m proud of that,” he said. “And I think that you should all be proud of what MISA is today.”
“Look around – just look at all of the other people who are here – because there is nobody else like the people in a municipal environment,” he continued. “You are creative, you are nimble, you can stretch a buck. You’re passionate about what you do… and it was really an honour and a privilege for me to work and play with all of you.”
For his part, current MISA president Dan Newton said that he believed Fisher “absolutely” deserved his lifetime membership award.
“Chris contributed to our chapter immensely,” Newton said. “It was an easy award to give.”