Reflections on the Global Shapers Ottawa Hub Retreat 

by Christine Martel-Fleming

I recently spent a snowy weekend at a rustic cottage just outside the small county of Lanark, Ontario, an hour outside of Ottawa. The inaugural Ottawa Global Shaper’s Hub retreat was held here to much anticipation. I’m a new recruit to the Ottawa Hub and was eager to get to know my fellow Shapers on a more personal level. Some of the Toronto Shapers made the trek to join us; we are co-organizing the Shape North America (NA) 2017 conference together.

The weekend was an exciting opportunity for both Hubs to meet, spend some time together, play, discuss ideas, and build friendships.
We arrived Saturday morning and began the day with introductions and icebreakers. One of my favourite activities was a rapid-fire question and answer when we each had to state where we were born. The diversity of our Hubs was immediately evident as answers ranged from the Democratic Republic of Congo, India, Bahrain, the UK to here in Canada. We also discussed our ambitions for joining the Hubs and the contributions each of us would like to make going forward. This discussion further highlighted the different backgrounds and skills of each Shaper and the vitality of this network in bringing us together to contribute to local projects and priorities in our communities.

On Saturday night both Hubs took part in a discussion led by Toronto Shaper Saumya Krishna on the narrative we want to construct for the Shape NA conference. This narrative is essential in ensuring synergies in programming but also inspiring Global Shapers at the conference to connect and collaborate on projects to implement in their local communities.

A common theme that developed from our discussion was on the importance of including others, and emphasizing our common strength through diversity. While this narrative has yet to be finalized, it was motivating to hear my colleagues’ ideas and the powerful potential of what this conference can achieve locally, nationally and regionally.

The following Sunday morning, Ottawa Shaper Adam Moscoe led a discussion around the questions of “What does it mean to be a Shaper?” and “Who I am shaping for?” I particularly liked this discussion because it reminded me of why we are all here and the responsibility that we have to young people everywhere to provide innovative youth perspectives and grassroots knowledge.

I feel exceptionally privileged to have spent the weekend with this group of young, energetic change makers. Most of all, I will never forget the laughs and personal stories we shared, the lessons I learned and the friendships I made.