This post is a little different, a bit more of a personal story. This month marks the 10th anniversary of my participation in Canada25. The website, for the now closed organization (it wound up operations in 2007), describes it as:
Canada25 is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that brings the voices and ideas of Canadians, aged 20-35, to the nation’s public policy discourse and takes action on issues of local and national significance.
Active citizenship and bold, globally oriented thinking make Canada a dynamic, inclusive, and prosperous country that people from around the world are proud to call home. Canada25 will:
- Develop and articulate policy proposals on issues of local and national significance to Canadians.
- Implement a select number of local and national initiatives developed through Canada25’s public policy deliberations.
- Act as a resource for government, business, and community leaders wishing to engage the perspectives and talents of adult Canadians, aged 20-35, with a keen interest in public affairs.
- Build an international network of people who share an interest in public affairs and civic engagement in Canada.
- Provide exciting opportunities for Canadians, aged 20-35, to build policy analysis and civic leadership skills.
In the spring of 2001, having been newly appointed as a vice-principal in Coquitlam, I joined 21 other delegates and six organizers from across Canada in Port Severn, Ontario, to craft the document that would become A New Magnetic North: How Canada can Attract and Retain Young Talent.
I remember little about the document, but have fond memories of the event and project which has helped shaped the last decade of my professional life. I remember becoming roommates with Marc Kielburger, who has since become known around the world for his involvement with Free the Children. I remember an amazingly passionate group of your people who wanted to make our country better. I remember Maclean’s Magazine, who were onsite to cover the event, being seemingly disappointed that we worked together so well and didn’t fight much. I remember thinking I was part of something special. I remember being so impressed by those who pulled the event and project together — particularly, Alison Loat, who I follow today as she continues to push for greater engagement in our political system.
Ten years later, it is neat to be part of an alumni for Canada25 that includes Kielburger, Loat, open-government guru, David Eaves, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi (who authored a subsequent Canada25 report), and dozens of others in a range of fields who are changing our country. One sometimes doesn’t realize it when they are in the midst of something special.
My thanks to all of those involved with Canada25 — 10 years later, you are still influencing me.