Innovation 150 looks to inspire youth for Canada’s 150th anniversary

Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly announces new partnership between Canadian science organizations

Martin Laforest, senior manager and scientific outreach at the Institute for Quantum Computing, does a quantum levitation demonstration for children.
Martin Laforest, senior manager and scientific outreach at the Institute for Quantum Computing, does a quantum levitation demonstration for children at the Discovery Centre.   Alex Cooke

Halifax will host a youth forum next spring as part of countrywide celebrations marking Canada’s 150th anniversary.

Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage, announced the launch of Innovation 150 and Canada 150+Me at the Discovery Centre on Tuesday morning.

“Innovation will be brought to the forefront of our sesquicentennial celebrations,” she said.

The initiative is a partnership of five Canadian science outreach organizations, and their main goal is to support innovations in the country. There aren’t many details about what they’ll do precisely, but it includes citywide festivals across Canada and an interactive website that showcases Canadian inventors, scientists, doctors and more.

Canada150+Me, a project from Experiences Canada, will recruit Canadians aged 14 to 19 by asking them what they think the greatest opportunity, or challenge, is for their generation.

The teens will submit their answers online using any medium, including art, music, and video.

Those selected will be sent to one of four regional forums in Canada, including one in Halifax at the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21.

The Halifax Christian Academy, a school in Halifax’s west end, will host students from around the country for the forum.

Mélanie Joly speaks to reporters after the announcement.
Mélanie Joly speaks to reporters after the announcement.   Alex Cooke

Beth Radford, 17, goes to the Halifax Christian Academy and was at the presentation Tuesday with several classmates. Radford said she’ll probably apply for the forum because she thinks it’s “a really cool idea.”

Out of the regional participants, 150 will travel to Ottawa to meet with government officials and community leaders. They will talk about their ideas and help organize events for Canada’s birthday.

Joly said it’s important to reach out to youth.

“I’m really, really happy to have you with me here, because you are our future innovators,” she said to the students. “You’re the ones who are going to shape Canada’s tomorrow, Canada’s future.”

The Department of Canadian Heritage will fund $700,000 towards Canada 150+Me. The exchange project will cost around $1.5 million.

Deborah Morrison, the CEO of Innovation 150’s parent company, Experiences Canada, also attended the launch.

“I like to think the link between us and Innovation 150 is that we’re giving the youth an opportunity to identify the problems,” says Morrison, “and Innovation 150 is going to give us an opportunity to resolve them as well.”

Innovation 150 is following the themes of celebrating diversity, supporting reconciliation with indigenous people, and raising environmental consciousness.

The federal government is providing almost $6 million to fund the project.

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