Canadian Visionaries Network: Thought-Leader Expertise for Meeting Success

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A partnership with Destination Canada's Canadian Visionary Network gives planners thought-level speakers and subject-matter expertise for meeting success.Destination Canada has expanded its local ambassador programs with a national platform of academic, industry and association leaders.

Destination Canada’s newly launched Canadian Visionaries Network (CVN) offers planners high-level partnerships with some of the country’s most esteemed professionals in the areas of life sciences, agribusiness, advanced manufacturing, finance and insurance, technology and natural resources. The 28 founding members are all thought leaders in their fields. They can be available to speak at meetings in Canada, and they also serve as ambassadors to raise awareness of the country’s intellectual capital offerings and promote Canada on the international stage.

“Canada has a lot of strengths when it comes to hosting international business events, but it’s the people and their openness to collaborating, sharing ideas and innovation, that really puts us in a league of our own,” says Virginie De Visscher, senior director, business events, Destination Canada. “The Canadian Visionaries Network has so many benefits for planners, including bringing down costs by working with local speakers. But more than that, the CVN lets planners easily connect with Canada’s entire value chain for business events, making it simple to not only create a truly transformational experience for attendees, but establish a sense of place that they’ll never forget.”

For example, CVN member Richard Heck, post-secondary educator, environmental sciences researcher and professional agrologist at University of Guelph, sector agribusiness led the charge to host the 24th World Congress of Soil Science in Toronto in 2030. “We had to demonstrate to the voting delegates that we had an interesting theme, and the event as a whole will be rewarding,” explains Heck. “So, we put a lot of thought into those dimensions, asking ourselves questions like ‘what kind of experience beyond sitting in rooms and listening to technical papers will this provide'”?

The Canadian Visionaries Network

Other CVN members, representing the different regions of Canada and a variety of economic sectors, include:

•Meryl Afrika, co-founder, BlackTies, Toronto, Ontario, sector finance and insurance. Afrika is an active leader in the Black community and a champion for diversity and inclusion within corporate Canada. She co-founded BlackTies, a global community platform for Black professionals in 2021 to elevate and amplify Black talent across the globe. She currently serves as the chair of the advisory board for The Canadian Association of Urban Financial Professionals (CAUFP) and is a member of the National Taskforce for Women’s Economic Justice, Financial and Banking Service Committee.

• Julie Angus, CEO, Open Oceans Robotics, Victoria, British Columbia, sector national resources and technology.  Angus is a bestselling author, scientist and explorer who received National Geographic’s Adventurer of the Year award when she became the first woman to row across the Atlantic Ocean from mainland to mainland.

Ryan D’Arcy, president and chief scientific officer, HealthTech Connex, Vancouver, British Columbia, sector life sciences. Trained in neuroscience, neurotechnology, and medical imaging, Dr D’Arcy also holds a BC Leadership Chair in Medical Technology, is a full professor at Simon Fraser University and is a member of the DM Centre for Brain Health at the University of British Columbia.

Gregory Dudek, professor, McGill University, Montréal, Quebec, sector technology. Dudek is distinguished James McGill Professor at McGill University and also lab head and VP research at the Samsung AI Center Montréal. He is a member and former Director of the McGill Research Centre for Intelligent Machines.

Mary Robinson, president, Canadian Federation of Agriculture, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, sector agribusiness.  Robinson is a managing partner of a 6th generation family farm operation, Eric C. Robinson Inc. and its sister company Island Lime and serves on the boards of associated companies PEI Agromart and Mid-Isle Farms. A leading advocate for the agriculture industry, she currently serves on the Board of Directors for the World Farmers’ Organisation (WFO)  and became the president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture in 2019.

These are just a sampling of CVN thought-leaders across Canada. “If there’s a particular member that planners are interested in connecting with for their meeting or event, we can absolutely support that,” says De Visscher. “Destination Canada Business Events can also work with planners on suggestions to align with your event, if the right fit isn’t jumping out.”

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