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Beyond 150: Collaboration for Change Special Feature Introduction

2017 marks Canada's sesquicentennial, a milestone that brings with it an invitation for reflection. The occasion also provides a unique opportunity to plan for the future that awaits our nation beyond its 150th birthday, and a moment to brainstorm ways in which we can better prepare ourselves to meet a rapidly-changing society head-on and with clear and compassionate eyes.

Looking at what it means to be Canadian in the 21st century means embarking on a thoughtful consideration of what sets us apart from the rest of the world, and particularly from our neighbours immediately to the south. It means looking at the ways in which we see ourselves, and the ways in which others see us globally. Finally, it means looking at ways to take our unique attributes and to exploit them in creation of the society that we want, combining government and the private sector in order to achieve our collective vision.

In June 2015, in partnership with Yonge Street Media, Deloitte Canada hosted a roundtable discussion with leaders from some of Canada's most influential organizations. The purpose was simple, yet ambitious: to pinpoint the major challenges facing Canada today and beyond the sesquicentennial. The three-hour-long conversation produced various insights about the way we as Canadians see ourselves: as peacekeepers; as diverse; as optimistic. But the meeting also brought forth concerns about the obstacles that stand in the face of full economic integration and social harmony.

Canadians are generally known for seeing the proverbial glass as half-full, but we also face the challenges of economic brain drain and inclusion of immigrants. The more than four percent of our population that identifies as Aboriginal faces disproportionately lower education completion rates and leadership roles within the workforce than the rest of their Canadian counterparts, and the lingering trauma and institutional distrust of a legacy of cultural erasure that resulted from over a century of federal government-funded residential schools. New Canadians add new dimension to the face of our economic identity, but remain under-represented in corporate board rooms and leadership roles; how do we work to transform our economy into one that fosters their full participation and leadership?

The next generation of leaders has a full plate of challenges to contend with. Technology-added changes in the workforce have contributed to a reevaluation of what secondary education ought to look like to best prepare the future's workers and agents of change. More than ever, government cannot be expected to solve these matters on its own. A strong economy and cohesive society will rely on collaboration across sectors to build consensus and strengthen social bonds, as the successes of increased efforts to promote civic entrepreneurship and social investing are beginning to demonstrate.

Deloitte Canada's Corporate Responsibility strategy rests on the belief that the social issues of our time can only be addressed if businesses work together with communities, governments, experts, and charitable organizations to face them head-on. Having built a reputation for providing clients with strong business solutions for the past 150 years, the company is now working to apply its proven problem-solving acumen to Canada's social challenges, amassing a growing number of corporate responsibility recognitions along the way. With Beyond 150, Deloitte aims to involve tomorrow's leaders in an ambitious problem-solving exercise: to tackle three of the most pressing challenges facing our country today. We're hosting a nationwide competition to uncover what strategies Canada's brightest graduate students have in mind.

Beyond 150 invites cross-sector collaboration in the areas of economic transformation and the inclusion of new Canadians; optimism and democratic engagement; and the social and economic advancement of our Aboriginal communities. By exploiting Deloitte's passion, relationships, and commitment to drive change, it is our belief that we can make great things happen. Now is the time to build the Canada we want, beyond 150. 

The Beyond 2015 roundtable, report, and graduate student challenge have been made possible by Deloitte Canada.