2021 xChange Conference Overview
In celebration of 20 years of Engineers Without Borders Canada, we were pleased to conduct EWB’s Virtual xChange 2021 Conference that took place from January 9th to 10th, 2021. This Conference’s theme, Revamp Tomorrow’s Solutions, brought together 200+ members from EWB’s 38 University and Professional networks to engage in sessions and conversations developed around our future-oriented Impact Framework.
The central theme of this year’s conference was EWB’s 20 years of journey, the learnings and the work towards bringing young people and ideas together to work through solutions in eliminating the root causes of poverty and inequality and create a motivating goal moving forward. As systems thinkers, EWBers know that issues cannot have quick and sustainable solutions, both at the same time. These conversations are especially important during the Covid-19 pandemic, which has highlighted the inequity within our communities. By bringing together people and ideas to ask tough questions, the theme, “Today’s solutions don’t have to become tomorrow’s problems” strived to undo the negative impacts left by short-sighted, reactionary solutions. In addition, the conference also sought to provide participants with professional and personal development opportunities and the ability to network with like-minded individuals.
“ So many things are yet to happen in the future of EWB. I left it blank, even though so many things are currently happening because our large landmarks will ultimately be created by you” – Boris Martin, Welcome and Looking Back, Looking Forward
Multiple engaging sessions were conducted in the span of the 2 days. Speakers hosted sessions on leadership, understanding micro-aggressions, food security, a feminist economic recovery plan and much more! Each session dove deeply into topics of development, sustainability, and equality. We all learned a lot and it helped reignite our combined motivations to make a positive impact.
Sunday touched upon the official launch of ‘Meet my Monster’ campaign. Through this campaign, we want an opportunity to become better acquainted with our privilege, our resources, and tools as individuals and as Canadians facing a global pandemic. By acknowledging our monsters, we become empowered to fight inequality everywhere.
Finally, we conducted EWB Members’ Impact Awards Ceremony to recognize chapters that are pushing to create real change within their communities and beyond. Universite Laval was awarded the biggest ‘Impact-Award’ for the incredible work they supported in the entire virtual semester. The conference was concluded with the official announcement of the Canada-Africa Innovation Accelerator Program. Through this program EWB will catalyze young leaders from Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and Canada, inspiring them to harness their specialized knowledge and create innovative solutions to persistent problems. With this goal in mind, EWB Canada has been reimagining our fellowship programs to connect leaders across geographies.
The ultimate success of the conference can easily be analysed by the number of meaningful engagements and conversations made. The tremendous energy and transparent discussions of the participants, professionals and staff displayed by the connections they made with impact focussed folks. More than 200 participants from all 10 provinces of Canada attended the event. Over 95% of attendees felt inspired, connected and driven for more engagements. It was inspiring to see that around 40% of the membership resonates most with our Community’s Energy, Climate and Environment impact pillar. Everyone acknowledged the importance of having a meaningful impact as a collective. This opportunity made the community even more connected to the strategic direction of the organisation and impact. With the preliminary survey, it was evident that the quality of the conference and engagements scored 5/5 across the board with the audience.
Moving forward, EWB would continue to have similar engaging events and have impact-driven meaningful conversations with our dynamic community. EWB would continue to inspire and motivate the young leaders, change-makers and innovators in Canada and Africa and provide opportunities to contribute to new, scalable and systemic ways of making a difference locally and globally and to grow as leaders in the process.