Leading Change 2021 Conference Reflection

I gravitate towards events and programs that bring together youth to educate, encourage and amplify the voices of next-generation leaders; that’s largely a reason I was drawn to Venture for Canada’s fellowship in 2020. Recently, I attended Leading Change Capital 2021— a Globe Capital conference forum. If you haven’t heard of Leading Change before, in a nutshell, it is an event where youth across Canada are selected to join and participate in sessions and workshops in sustainability, social impact, and innovation. Think of this event as a teaser geared explicitly towards youth before diving into the high-level world of corporate sustainability at the Globe Conference. 

This year the event looked very different. My first time attending was in 2018 where I was fortunate enough to travel from Toronto to Vancouver to participate in person. Nonetheless, in fully remote work, the virtual platform didn’t stop me from applying and attending Leading Change 2021. Instead of traveling, I joined the conference from home, which now also happens to be in Vancouver.

This forum is where you need to be for anyone interested in networking with changemakers and sustainability professionals. The conference has everything: career advice, thought leaders, cleantech, city planning, and more. In particular, Leading Change has always done a superb job selecting individuals in various industries spanning different areas of sustainability. You can expect to meet entrepreneurs, students, entry-level professionals, and academics. 

Even in a “zoomed-out” year, I had the opportunity to attend stimulating sessions where I felt activated to take action and accelerate change. I had the chance to learn more about sustainability. I was challenged on my existing knowledge, which allowed me to critically reflect on my social impact work. Each of the multiple sessions I attended left me buzzing with new information that I could apply to my professional career. 

The topic that resonated with me was Indigenomics by Design – Carol Anne Hilton

“Indigenomics is restorying the narrative away from ‘Indigenous peoples are a fiscal burden’ towards ‘we are an economic powerhouse” – Carol Anne Hilton

I was in awe hearing Carol Anne Holton speak. It was the first I heard of the term “Indigenomics.” Carol discussed the role of economics and particularly “the right to an economy,” an expression of Indigenous peoples’ right to an economy that belongs to them. I felt both inspired and assured when I heard Carol speak about the economic strength Indigenous people bring to Canada’s economic development, and shifting the language from seeing Indigenous people as deficits in the socioeconomic gap. She emphasized that value isn’t defined by economic growth but economic success is tied to the ways of Indigenous people. While listening to this session, I thought to myself “yes, a movement is growing”, there are thought leaders like Carol who exist who are pushing the needle forward! 

If you want to learn more, check out the book written by Carol Anne Hilton Indigenomics: Taking a Seat at the Economic Table

Overall, throughout the event, I felt like my brain was bustling with new ideas, which typically happens with all-day events where there’s engagement, knowledge sharing, and learning involved. I was excited to take the information I learned and apply it to my professional work with my VFC partner startup.

Leading Change 2021, has had such a positive and fulfilling impact on myself that I continuously talk about my experience with others. An event like this is something crucial for folks who are interested in understanding the sustainability space in Canada and is something urge anyone in their early career days to be a part of. 

Monica Khaper is an Operations Manager and Sustainability Lead at Nyoka Design Labs, and 2020 Venture...