Hundreds of young people from across the country rallied together in Montreal, Quebec this past June for Dream the Impossible, an event that encouraged discussion about the issues that affect them the most.
There were over 400 people onsite and hundreds more online who joined the two-day event on June 19 and 20, 2023 at La TOHU in Montreal. The initiative was created by Guy Cormier, President and CEO of Desjardins Group and attracted 18-30 years olds from across Canada who explored issues in three key themes chosen by youth - the environment, education and employment, and finance and economy.
The event included inspirational speakers, master classes, and workshops on topics like design thinking and storytelling for influence. Participants were also able to discuss issues and devise solutions with fellow attendees which were presented in a final pitch to peers and selected event leaders.
Eight York University Students Were Selected to Attend the Event
Sarah Ayoub was one of eight students at York University selected to attend Dream the Impossible by Desjardins. “I almost couldn't believe it”, says Sarah. “I had to re-read the email 3 times to make sure I understood it correctly - I was going to Montreal!”
The 4th year Cinema and Media Arts student was made aware of the opportunity by YSpace and professors leading the Cross-Campus Capstone Classroom (C4) course at York which enables students to participate in interdisciplinary teams and work on real-world challenges with social impact while earning course-credit.
Gilbert Chen, a 4th year Mathematics for Education student, was another selected from C4 to attend the event. Both Sarah and Gilbert met during their journey to Montreal; a connection that wouldn’t have ordinarily been made, given that they both study in very different faculties at York. The connection was one of many at the event which brought together individuals from diverse backgrounds. “I found the event to be an excellent opportunity to meet and connect with people from across Canada,” says Gilbert. “It allowed us to share our stories from a diverse and interdisciplinary perspective.”
This event is part of a major initiative by Guy Cormier who is actively invested in opening up the discussion among youth about the issues facing our world. Cormier’s hands-on participation at the event was incredibly refreshing. After all, it’s not often that you get to rub shoulders with CEOs.
As Sarah describes, “when we were presenting our ideas, I noticed him in the back of the audience listening in and asking questions. It’s as if he got a ticket to see us instead.”
Although the event is over, the initiative continues to make strides. Both Cormier and Desjardins have an ongoing commitment to our future leaders, including entrepreneurs. Desjardins has invested over $13 million in 65 projects across Ontario and Quebec, including York University’s ELLA, a YSpace accelerator for women entrepreneurs, and GENIAL (Glendon Entrepreneuriat et Innovation A L’International), a bilingual entrepreneurship and innovation program. Cormier also visited 10 Canadian universities this year, including York University in September, where he shared his career journey with students and offered advice to motivate and empower attendees.
As for both Sarah and Gilbert, this is just the beginning. “I've already planned my Summer around going to Dream the Impossible again and can’t wait to share my ideas and make more connections”, says Sarah. “I never thought that my ideas can make widespread impact but now, I believe it’s possible. This event pushed me out of my comfort zone and gave me the confidence I needed to believe in myself and my ideas. I’m so thankful to Guy Cormier and Desjardins for believing in us and creating opportunities like this.”
About YSpace and Desjardins Group
YSpace is York University’s pan-university entrepreneurship and innovation hub supporting startups and entrepreneurs from a variety of sectors and communities. Programming spans across scaling innovative technologies through customer and investor capital to scaling agri-food businesses into mass retail to diversity-focused initiatives like ELLA for women-led businesses and Black Entrepreneurship Alliance for Black-led businesses. Yspace is also home to two physical hubs in the City of Markham and the Town of Georgina. To learn more about YSpace visit: https://www.yorku.ca/yspace
Desjardins Group is the largest cooperative financial group in North America and the fifth largest cooperative financial group in the world. It was named one of the World’s Top Female-Friendly Companies by Forbes magazine. Desjardins offers a full range of products and services to individuals and businesses through its extensive distribution network, online platforms and subsidiaries across Canada. Ranked among the world's strongest banks according to The Banker magazine, Desjardins has some of the highest capital ratios and credit ratings in the industry. To learn more about Desjardins visit: https://www.desjardins.com/on/en.html