On paper, it looked like it was going to be just another talk – a speaker at a conference. In person, it appeared to be something magical.
If you were there, you saw it – no, felt it.
633 people gathered for the SREDA Forum 2020 to share stories about how to grow. How to grow individually, as businesses, as a community, a city and a region. Mayor Clark and I had just opened the morning talking about four pillars to ensure Saskatoon grows in the new economy: 1) Natural Resources, 2) Technology and Innovation, 3) Livability, and 4) Economic Reconciliation.
Shortly afterwards, it was time for Philip Ducharme’s talk. Philip is the Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business. He is a proud Metis with all eight of his Great-Grandparents attached to Metis Scrip applications.
This being the SREDA Forum, speakers were pushed out of their comfort zone – because that’s when the magic happens. So, no slides, no podium, no security. Just a speaker and an audience. And a story.
Philip talked about his journey. One that included graduating from the University of Regina through the Gabriel Dumont Institute in Business Administration, and one that also saw him face racism and prejudice in Saskatchewan. This ultimately led him to seek new chapters away from Saskatchewan – so that he could, at least in part it seemed, leave the racism behind. He wasn’t sure if he’d ever come back. Who could blame him?
But here he was. On stage. Sharing his story. And explaining how progress in economic reconciliation is a key to growing Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and Canada. And how if we treat ALL people as equals, we all grow. And 633 people got it. They got what Philip was saying. And they got the things he wasn’t saying, but knew he could say.
And as Philip finished his story, that’s when it happened. 633 people, although it felt like the entire city, rose to their feet. To applaud Philip. To thank him. To stand with him. To agree with him. To share a moment in reconciliation. To acknowledge some truths, and to look forward to a better future.
It was quite simply, a perfect moment.
And for those that were there, I think it will always be a moment that will remind us; we’re all better when we stand together.
And so we say, one more time, thank you, Philip.