Nineteen delegates from the One Young World summit arrived at Algonquin College this afternoon to take part in discussions on indigenous entrepreneurship.
The summit is an annual gathering of young leaders from around the world brought together to brainstorm and connect on world issues. This year Ottawa was the host city for the four-day event.
Jarret Leaman, Ojibway entrepreneur and executive director of the Aboriginal Professional Association of Canada, offered a keynote and led the workshop after introductions by Ron McLester, executive director and special advisor to the president on Aboriginal initiatives at the college, and Inuit Elder Sally Webster.
Leaman began with an overview of Canadian indigenous history and some of the tensions that exist within that relationship as well as what it means to be an indigenous person in Canada.
“I felt [the delegates] understood a bit of indigenous issues beforehand,” said Leaman. “But you have to provide the context.”
The delegates were able to relate the experience of Canada’s Aboriginal people with that of their own countries and expressed similarities that resonated with many of the representatives.
Leaman began by asking the delegates to offer some opinions about how indigenous people are typically viewed by non-indigenous people in their home countries. The group found that similar stereotypes existed among many.
The theme of cross-continental similarities is a focus of the summit as a whole and was highlighted not only during the workshop but also by Algonquin College president, Cheryl Jensen in her initial address.
Jensen was involved in the early discussions of organizing the One Young World summit, along with Mayor Jim Watson, and had a plan to connect the youth leaders from across the world to Algonquin.
“Of course from my perspective with the age group and our students here at Algonquin it was a perfect fit for us. I was honoured to be involved right at the beginning,” said Jensen.
The summit’s opening ceremonies kicked off on Thursday with events continuing through the weekend.
Other events taking place across the city for the summit include a dinner with the delegates at Algonquin’s Restaurant International this evening, a special edition of the sound and light show on Parliament Hill tonight, and ongoing discussions and keynotes lead by leaders from around the world including women’s rights activist and actress Emma Watson.