Sustainability and inclusion key parts of 2022 Ignite Conference

Darlene O'Neill in front of a bulletin board. CREDIT: GERARD CRECES
Director of Employment and Student Entrepreneurial Services, Darlene O'Neill, is excited to be bringing Fanshawe's annual Ignite conference back to in-person at the school.

How do you integrate global sustainability goals into your everyday actions?

Fanshawe College is hosting its annual Ignite Conference Nov. 5, with a series of workshops and employer panels focusing on how students can incorporate global citizenship into their school and career life.

The theme for this year’s conference is A United Future – a nod to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) – and will provide students an opportunity to think about the bigger picture in their everyday lives, and explore the role of global citizenship plays as they set out on their careers.

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The United Future theme is doubly apt because the conference is back to in-person.

Director of Employment and Student Entrepreneurial Services, Darlene O’Neill, said it feels fantastic to be back on campus and put the “C-word” (COVID) behind them. Sustainability is increasingly important to students, she noted, adding that Fanshawe’s multicultural makeup provides the perfect setting for the conference.

“We have such a diverse population here at Fanshawe,” said O’Neill. “Let’s take a look and see what really matters to young people these days and how does it relate to career development.”

The United Nations adopted their 17 sustainability goals in 2015, with the idea that health, education, and equality can go hand-in-hand with poverty reduction, economic growth, and environmental action.

“[Students] might not know the UN sustainable development goals (SDGs) but they will know climate action,” O’Neill said. “They will know peace, justice, and strong institutions are important in their future. They will know the importance of a quality education.

“That matters to students. It matters to humans.”

This year’s keynote speaker is chocolatier Tareq Hadhad, whose family fled war-torn Syria to start anew in Nova Scotia. Now a Canadian citizen, Hadhad and his father, Isam’s Peace By Chocolate business is as much a business success story as it is a reaffirmation of resilience in the face of adversity.

“He speaks from a really beautiful place,” O’Neill said. “He’s got the most humanistic soul and approach to business that I’ve ever seen.”

Leading off the workshops is Dr. Candy Ho, who will be looking at how students can apply global SDGs down to a personal level in their careers.

She will be joined by Fanshawe professor Ela Smith, whose “You don’t know what you don’t know” workshop will leave participants with a broader understanding of equity, inclusion, and respect in an increasingly diverse Canada.

Jennifer Pate, whose work to preserve the Great Lakes through her venture, Love Your Greats, will help students explore their career goals off the beaten path, while Fanshawe Sustainability Coordinator, Amanda Whittingham, will be looking at SDGs in the workplace, using Fanshawe College as an example for students to expand on.

The day will conclude with a panel of area employers, who will be sharing their perspectives and expertise on sustainability and global citizenship.

Registration for the conference is free, and can be done at myfanshawe.ca/ignite. The conference runs from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.

Breakfast, lunch and swag bags are provided at no cost.