OTTAWA – “What kind of Canada do we want in the next 50 years?” One hundred youth leaders from universities across the country tackled that and other big questions about Canada’s future at Converge 2017, a kick-off event for Canada 150 hosted by Universities Canada in Ottawa, February 6 and 7.
The youth delegates shared bold, ambitious and inspiring ideas on building a more innovative, prosperous and inclusive Canada for 2067 with guests including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Governor General David Johnston, Members of Parliament and other government, business, university and community leaders.
“Seeing the energy, ideas and commitment of these youth leaders over the past two days, it’s clear that Generation 2017 is ready, able and committed to building a brighter future for Canada,” said Paul Davidson, president of Universities Canada. “I’m excited to see how they’ll bring this momentum back to their campuses, organizations and communities to advance Canadian pluralism, reconciliation and innovation.”
- Dominic Barton, global managing partner, McKinsey & Company and chair of the federal government’s Advisory Council on Economic Growth spoke about Canada’s global strengths and the need to protect our democratic ideals and institutions.
”We are the bastion of liberal democratic values and we should never take that for granted. We have to fight hard for that.”
- During a livestreamed question and answer session viewed by more than 115,000 people across the country, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addressed youth delegates’ concerns about mental health, work-integrated learning, freedom and reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.
“For us to be the kind of country we like to think of ourselves as being…we need deep and real transformation in this relationship…and we need it to happen right now.”
- The president and CEO of Indspire, Roberta Jamieson called for more financial support for Indigenous education to empower Indigenous youth to play an important role in Canada’s future and to achieve reconciliation.
“Education has been used in this country to make us disappear…We must not only have reconciliation then, we must have reconstruction, renewal, rebuilding of indigenous cultures and languages. And universities must play a central role in this kind of in-the-trenches reconciliation.”
- His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada closed off the event with an inspiring speech and call to action.
“I want you to be ambassadors for this Canadian experiment: for reconciliation, for tolerance, for inclusiveness, for openness, for collaboration, for the possibility of Canada…That means defending and improving our open, inclusive society, and demonstrating to the world that this is what Canada stands for.
- Ten Members of Parliament engaged with the youth delegates in meaningful, candid discussions about how young Canadians can boldly lead Canada towards an ambitious future.
“Don’t be afraid to step up. Don’t be afraid to try new things and don’t be afraid to fail…Failure is the first step towards success,” said The Honourable Karina Gould, Minister of Democratic Institutions.
- Canada’s Minister of International Trade, The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne joined delegates and guests for dinner on February 6 where he affirmed Canada’s universities as key partners in supporting international engagement and trade relations.
- The event’s hashtag #Converge2017 was used in more than 2,250 tweets on February 6th, making it the highest trending hashtag in Canada that day.
Canadian universities will continue this exercise of reflection, celebration and looking forward by hosting more than 250 events at campuses throughout Canada during 2017.
Learn more about Converge2017 and watch recordings of our keynote speakers at www.univcan.ca/canada150/converge.
About Universities Canada
Universities Canada is the voice of Canada’s universities at home and abroad, advancing higher education, research and innovation for the benefit of all Canadians.