Do you feel from time to time that Quebec gets carried away by nostalgia? I am far from being a sociologist, but after all, our radios seem to vibrate to the sound of nostalgic folk music. Our newspapers have been regularly reporting the relative decline of Montreal since the 1976 Olympic. What about the official motto of the province “Je me souviens” (I remember)?
The context is not easy, but I prefer to see the situation from a different angle. Our destiny is in our hands. If we take charge, Quebec offers countless possibilities – we are far from having reached our full potential.
Obviously, it is imperative to know our history and salute our ancestors who have built the beautiful society that we can benefit from today. I’m a history buff myself. However, we must recognize that it is difficult to clear a morose collective state of mind and look to the future with enthusiasm in this context. Moreover, instead of focusing their energies to find solutions that maximize collective utility, interest groups often compete with each other to extract the maximum possible at the expense of the progress of the entire population, often to the detriment of future generations.
A growing movement is emerging.
Fortunately, not everything is dark and the situation is not irreversible. The business community must play a key role in reversing the trend and there is currently an awareness of this need. Far from succumbing to nostalgia, I notice that more and more people are actively engaging in their own way, providing time and money to make a difference.
Only in Montreal, at least a dozen clubs comprised of young professionals and entrepreneurs have been formed over the last few years and it is probably the tip of the iceberg. These young people in their twenties and thirties form a new generation of philanthropists. Far from the outdated image of the philanthropists of the past, these groups compete to raise funds and raise awareness of the cause that is dear to their heart. Despite resources that are often limited, the committees that I know succeed brilliantly. Members are resourceful and help each other. Although this concept is not necessarily originally from here, the rapid expansion of these groups and the popularity of these fundraising events in Montreal is currently outstanding.
To illustrate this point, I could mention several impressive local initiatives. I will take the example of Casino against cancer, because it is the initiative that I know best. If you are wondering why I did not update this blog for six months, it is because I chaired the 3rd edition of this fundraiser benefiting the Montreal Cancer Institute. Since the creation of the Circle of young ambassadors in summer 2012, over $300,000 was raised to repatriate researchers from Quebec working abroad, among other initiatives. Each year, some twenty ambassadors devote thousands of hours to literally organize from A to Z the event and raise as much money as possible for the foundation. Multiplied across all active committees, a generation of leaders is sensitized to philanthropy and the need to commit themselves to the advancement of our society. All these groups have in common an instigator that is not the government, but a small group of leaders strongly motivated to make their mark in a positive and constructive manner.
I see MTL: an event not to be missed!
There is another great initiative that was launched by Jacques Ménard from BMO in collaboration with the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal. I see MTL has emerged as a popular movement supported by many leaders from various spheres to change the collective mindset and give a new momentum to the metropolis. I attended the event on November 17 with colleagues. Discreet for too long in public debates, the business community is increasingly engaged and starting to rally stakeholders and guide the recovery of Montreal, the engine of the Quebec’s economy.
More than 1,000 people attended workshops and contributed to projects proposed by leaders of various backgrounds. About one hundred projects were discussed. They have four main objectives: enhancing the personality of Montreal, attract or retain talent, boost growth and entrepreneurship, and make the city more livable. At the end of the day, participants committed to the project they worked on during the day. The concept was interesting. The key will be to put in place a mechanism to closely monitor all these projects!
A new start with citizens’ re-engagement.
I find it very encouraging to see so many people concerned about the direction of our city and wanting to be actively involved to improve our situation. I hope that the sense of urgency that drives many people of my generation will be increasingly shared across the population. After a long look in the mirror, it’s time to look straight forward to find possible solutions for advancing Quebec and to get closer to our full potential.
If you are still working on your New Year’s resolutions, I invite you to consider getting involved in your community. If you do not know where to start, a good starting point is Bénévoles d’affaires, a business volunteer organization that pairs professional with non-profit organizations in the greater Montreal area and Quebec. The needs are so numerous; you will surely find an organization whose mission matches your interests and passions.