David Johnston on innovation culture

VIDEO: Share our success stories, adopt experiential learning and be inclusive, says Governor General

Governor General David Johnston spoke on innovation in Canada A Q&A afterward was moderated by Julie Cafley, senior vice-president of policy and partnerships at the PPF.

“We lack a culture of innovation in Canada”
Johnston first drew a distinction between pockets of innovation going on in the country, and what he considered to be an absent business culture. “While Canadians are innovative, we lack a culture of innovation in Canada.” He said innovation was “an economic and social process” that was about creating value in order to drive growth.

“We must be a caring nation”
Johnston said the country needs to “be a place where people come together to study” and innovate, and we will all prosper together. He said part of that is opening Canadians’ minds to the world, noting that only a few per cent of students study abroad compared to numbers in the teens for Australia. “Currently Canada is not” in the top tier of attracting international students, he said. The Indigenous population, he noted, was not seeing opportunities like the rest of Canada.

“We don’t share our stories”
Part of the problem fostering his “culture of innovation” was that “we don’t share our stories” of success, said Johnston. “By celebrating or sharing their stories more widely, we build that culture.” he said “A culture of innovation does not happen by accident, but by countless and sustained acts” over time. To be innovative, Johnston said, “lies at the heart of what it means to be Canadian.”

“Cherish our teachers”
 Johnston, who is closely connected to the academic world, said literacy and essential skills often come down to support given to teachers. “Cherish our teachers,” he said. Johnston said he was a “great believer in experiential learning,” noting that businesses often say students can be technically proficient but lack social skills. “I would not start a university tomorrow if it didn’t have a substantial experiential learning.”

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