I can’t recall if I choose to apply or if the decision came naturally. First thing I know, I was submitting my application to participate in the Emerging Leaders program. As part of the Arctic Frontiers Conference, about 30 young professionals, scientists, politicians and businessmen (and women) were selected to participate in a week of activities including workshops, discussions, presentations and immersion in the Norwegian culture and history (since the event took place in Norway).
Two days after the application deadline, I was selected! That was right before Christmas and less than a month before the event. Let’s just say that my participation was an amazing and slightly stressful surprise that was made possible by LOJIQ and Global Affairs Canada. But I managed to deal with all of it and there I was, waiting for my plane on a cold Tuesday evening in Montréal.
The Emerging Leaders program started in Bodø. During the first days, I got to know the other participants and how different our views and perceptions of the Arctic were. Some of the attendees lived in the Arctic while others didn’t. Some had the vision of a cold and remote Arctic while others had a vision of industries and smart cities. We got to present our respective work through Pecha Kucha presentations; a stimulating type of presentation of 20 slides lasting 20 seconds each, for a total of 6min40. Pecha Kucha presentations are challenging, quick and funny! It is worth having a look (www.pechakucha.com).
During our trip, we had the chance to go on the majestic Lofoten archipelago. The location was incredibly beautiful (it was hard to focus on presentations sometimes!) and we got to go fishing for a morning. I am proud to say that I caught a respectable number of saithe (also called coalfish, pollock or coley). In the meantime, presentations were still going on and I learned a lot about the conciliation of scientific knowledge, sustainable development and industries in Europe and more precisely in Norway.
After Bodø and the Lofoten, we finally headed to our final destination, Tromsø, where the Arctic Frontiers conference was to take place. On our way there, we were challenged to make a group presentation about our Emerging Leaders experience. Yes, one presentation made by 30 people from 12 different countries. It was hard at first, we argued a lot but we managed to present something that was representative of everybody’s point of view. I think the European and the North American vision were quite different but staying calm and open-minded made everything possible. We presented our work to representatives of our respective countries. For example, the Canadian Embassy in Norway was there. (Special thanks here, they were really inclusive and interested in getting to know the Canadian participants!)
During the Arctic Frontiers conference, I was able to attend panel discussions between Arctic decision makers. The speakers were mayors, ministers, US senator, CEOs or professors and gave quite a show! The subjects of the sessions were sometimes sensible and the discussions were really interesting. The whole conference can be found online.
Through the discussions with the other emerging leaders, I realized that we need to have a broad vision of the Arctic. What we also realized is that we are not only emerging leaders: we like to call ourselves Emergency Leaders.
Emergency: an unforeseen combination of circumstances or the resulting state that calls for immediate action (www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/emergency)
Leader: a person who leads (www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/leader)
Considering these definitions, I think all the ArcTrain people studying changes in the Arctic and working on solutions are Emergency Leaders!