—This post was written by Jordan Yeo, co-president of the Simon Fraser University chapter—
This year, Golden Key’s Canadian Regional Summit (or CANCON) was held from February 27 to March 1 at the Pinnacle Harbourfront Hotel in the heart of beautiful downtown Vancouver, BC. Nearly 100 students, advisors and alumni members from throughout the country gathered for a weekend of networking and professional development.
Friday kicked off as delegates arrived with a photo scavenger hunt activity throughout the downtown area. We were extremely fortunate to have one of the most beautiful weekends the city had seen all year – many students commented on how warm and sunny the weather was, especially compared to the snowstorms in the East Coast! This led to some great photo opportunities and adventures exploring nearby attractions. In the evening, we headed to the nearby pub, Mahony and Sons, for delicious food and drinks, and mixing and mingling among attendees.
Our opening session began on Saturday morning, with an official welcome from the co-presidents of the host chapters, Simon Fraser University and the University of British Columbia. Ian Sankey, Director of Golden Key in Canada, provided updates from headquarters and recognized the scholarship winners who were in attendance. He also introduced Council of Student Members representative Azin Zanganeh and Council of Advisors representative Dr. Bruce Shore. For our opening keynote speech, we were very fortunate to have Dr. Art Hister, a local news personality and medical doctor. The title of Dr. Hister’s presentation, “Simple Steps to Living a Longer, Healthier Life”, was a hilarious yet inspiring presentation which took everyone by surprise and brought about some much-needed laughs for an early morning.
Throughout the morning and afternoon, breakout sessions were held on a variety of topics, featuring a diverse group of presenters with backgrounds in everything from marketing to astronomy and humanitarianism. Among our notable presenters were Kevin Vallely, an architect and world-record holder for the fastest unsupported trek to the South Pole, who spoke about the importance of resiliency in achieving one’s goals; Michelle Harper, the National Marketing Manager of Purdy’s Chocolatier, who provided real-word advice on career-building opportunities in addition to some delicious chocolate samples; Nisha Khare, a registered clinical counselor and actress, who led a facilitated discussion on following your dreams; and Marjan Jamsaz, an international relations consultant who spoke on the importance of “living from the end”.
Saturday evening began with our closing keynote address from Ryan Steele, a participant onseason 2 of The Amazing Race Canada, who spoke about overcoming cancer, launching his comedy career, and his experiences competing in a race around the world. Delegates then participated in a chapter sharing session, where representatives from each chapter provided updates on events and initiatives they had participated in over the past year. It was a great opportunity for Golden Key members to learn from one another and bring ideas back to their chapters. After the sharing session, we headed up to the revolving restaurant on the top floor of the hotel for a beautiful three-course dinner overlooking Coal Harbour. Many of our speakers joined us for the dinner, making it a great opportunity for networking in a more casual setting. We also created a slideshow that played throughout the dinner, featuring all of the photos that our attendees had taken throughout the weekend and uploaded to our Guidebook mobile app, and gave out numerous door prizes. With all the formalities done and hard work completed, we ended Saturday night by heading to Joseph Richard Nightclub and celebrating late into the night with new friends from every province!
The fun didn’t stop there, though. Those who were able to stick around on Sunday participated in additional activities organized by the host chapters, including a bike ride around the seawall in Stanley Park.
On behalf of the entire CANCON 2015 team, we would like to thank all of our attendees, speakers, sponsors, and volunteers who helped to make the weekend a success. It was inspiring to see so many bright minds gathered in one place and to make so many new connections. We hope everyone who attended CANCON 2015 was inspired to “make your future now”, and we look forward to seeing many familiar faces at next year’s summit!
View more photos from the event at http://andrewlukianiuk.pass.us/cancon2015.