December 7, 2022

Honourable senators, as some of you know, I had a fabulous time at university. Clearly, you remember. It was so fabulous, in fact, that at the end of my first year the dean of agricultural science at the University of Guelph encouraged me to reassess my commitment. I did, and I soon found that I was far better-suited to the practical challenges of the working world.

However, not having a post-secondary degree increasingly required that I create my own employment; that’s how I stumbled onto the path of entrepreneurship. Learning how to turn ideas into businesses — and discovering the countless potholes on the road to success — have taught me the importance of tenacity, risk taking, creativity and resilience.

Entrepreneurship demands that you reflexively turn your problems into opportunities. We live in a world where this characteristic has increasingly become an essential skill. That is why I love learning about programs that train the next generation of entrepreneurs, programs that prove to teenagers that they are capable of creating exciting opportunities and teaching them how to avoid the many potholes that I always seemed to hit.

Take Shad Canada, for example, a national entrepreneurship program for Grade 10 and Grade 11 students that operates at 22 post-secondary institutions across Canada. Shad empowers participants to focus on a real problem, a problem that they’ve seen in their lives or on the news. The Shad staff coach each team of students as they devise innovative real-life solutions with the support of subject-matter experts. There’s nothing hypothetical here.

Bethany Deshpande, a Shad alum who is now the Halifax-based CEO of an ag-tech company called SomaDetect, told me about her experiences at Shad and how they continue to guide her and shape the corporate culture, innovation and success of her company. Bethany powerfully reflected on her experience at Shad saying, “I don’t know who I would be if I hadn’t gone.”

Another example is Outward Bound, a program that equips youth for the future through adventures in nature, testing them physically and mentally. The program empowers students to accomplish things they would never have thought possible, and it does so at a critical age. It creates confidence that enables youth to become a powerful force in the world.

Colleagues, as a consequence of climate change, our generation is delivering an unprecedented challenge to future generations. Investing in programs that strengthen the entrepreneurial culture in Canada will help produce many more creative problem solvers who embrace risk, challenge the status quo and think outside the box.

Thank you, colleagues.

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