The City of Calgary witnessed a groundbreaking event, Innovate Inclusion, held on February 2nd and 3rd at the Calgary Zoo, Safari Lodge. It brought together small and medium-sized business owners, non-profit professionals, and post-secondary students to celebrate Black History Month.

Organized by TalentED YYC, in partnership with the City of Calgary, Africa Centre of Calgary, Calgary Black Chambers, Mitacs, and TECHNATION, the event was a platform to showcase Black excellence, build community, and create more inclusive workplaces.

Day 1: Keynote, Funding Workshops, Case Competition

Employers and students were welcomed to Innovate Inclusion with a keynote address from Chi iliya-Ndule, Corporate Commercial Lawyer at Blake, and Co-founder and President of Calgary Black Chambers.

Employers joined a workshop after the keynote to explore the benefits of work integrated learning and gained valuable insights into how student talent can contribute to their organization’s growth. Mitacs and TECHNATION also presented on how to navigate funding opportunities and apply for subsidies and financial support to engage post-secondary student talent within organizations.

Students were treated to a Design Thinking Workshop – Inclusive Features by Jeny Mathews-Thusoo, providing information applicable to their success in the case competition. The case revolved around making cities more accessible to all and was presented by Fareez Late from the City of Calgary.

Day one finished with a career panel that addressed Navigating the Workplace as a Black professional to round out the day for students.

Day 2: Panel & Case Competition

Post-secondary students arrived at the Calgary Zoo early Saturday morning for breakfast and to hear a career panel from Black professionals in Canada.

After submitting their case competition presentation decks, students pitched their ideas to a panel of judges and suggested inclusion solutions ranging from the development of an app to ideas building on the Calgary Inclusive Futures Strategy.

Students reflected on their learning during a TalentED YYC led reflection session, before wrapping up the day with the delightful Wakefield Brewster. As Calgary’s first Black and sixth Poet Laureate, Wakefield provided a highly engaging, spoken word and poetic performance.

The winning Innovate Inclusion: Case Competition team took home $1,000 for their pitch and will have the opportunity to develop their idea further with the City of Calgary.

Innovate Inclusion successfully connected Black employers with post-secondary students, creating a platform for meaningful connection while fostering diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Business owners were empowered to apply for funding to  bring student talent into their organization. Post-secondary students gained innovative work integrated learning experience and the opportunity to help steer their city towards a more inclusive future.