Toronto: A Hub of Innovation
Toronto was the second of the CSCLeaders 2014
Part Two programmes, which took place 8-11 July. 20 participants
from across the Commonwealth came together to explore the
CSCLeaders 2014 Challenge on the social and economic value of
technological innovation in the context of a city very different to
those they visited in Part One earlier this year. Part two
programmes are also open to alumni from previous years.
Participants enjoyed the opportunity to reconnect
whilst immersed in the communities and organisations of Toronto,
one of the safest and most culturally diverse cities in the world.
Toronto - and Canada as a country - is known to be a nation of
immigrants. Its open and welcoming nature has made the city of
Toronto home to more than 2.8 million people. In fact, 51% of the
residents of Toronto are not born in
Key issues of poverty,
immigration and gang related crime were explored through visits to
different community organisations, such as FoodShare, and local
neighbourhoods, including a tour with neighbourhood police officers
and young people which was a real highlight.
Toronto is a hub for
innovation, evident through all the organisations visited. For
example: Waterfront Toronto, which has been awarded the
title Global Intelligent
Community of the Year; Ryerson
University, which has established zones such as a digital media
zone and fashion zone to support technological and social
innovation that's making a difference to people around the world
and Cisco, which is using technology to give some of the most
remote communities in the world access to education and support
services. This spirit of innovation sparked new ideas from the
participants, re-igniting their passion for developing the project
ideas generated at Part One.
It was also a great opportunity to meet with Hugh
Segal, one of the speakers from Part One and a huge supporter
of CSCLeaders, who has recently
stepped down as Senator and taken on a new role as Master of Massey
College, part of the University of
Toronto. Hugh hosted a
wonderful dinner where the group were addressed by the Honourable
John Baird, Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs, who shared his
thoughts on some pressing global issues.
Toronto was a chance for participants to delve
deeper into the Challenge and look at various models that could
work with a culturally diverse population. Strong examples of
successful collaborations across civil society and government
sectors provided an insight into the spirit of Toronto. A specific
example of such successful collaboration was the seamless
integration of the Federal, Province and City authorities for
effective results, as demonstrated with the Waterfront
An evening dinner in the revolving restaurant at the
top of CN Tower gave everyone an opportunity to unwind and enjoy.
It was wonderful to see people on a high at the end of the four
days, committing to staying connected and taking collaborative
action on various initiatives.
Blog post by Farhad Merchant, CEO, Common Purpose