Sophie Kiwala

Day 3 | Morning Address

TBOP2017 ⋅ 18:00 ⋅ Filmed May 12, 2017

What do the Financial Times, Neil deGrasse Tyson and Scientology have to do with innovation in Kingston? You'll have to watch MPP Sophie Kiwala's keynote presentation to find out.

Celebrating the successes of The Breakout Project and the rich history of the land upon which the inaugural event was hosted, Sophie Kiwala's energy and enthusiasm is bound to inspire you. In the context of historic Fort Henry, as Canada celebrates its 150th year, Sophie is proud to announce that Kingston has recently been named the top North American city for foreign direct investment. How did a small Ontario city seal the top spot? The unified effort of government and people shaping Kingston into a city that foster creativity, innovation, and talent.

As a provincial politician, Sophie understands the importance and value of acknowledging the history and tradition that has brought us this far — but her keynote is really about inspiring students, leaders, citizens, entrepreneurs and business owners to build the future we want to live in.

Inspiring to the max, Sophie discusses the rapid pace of innovation and the practically unimaginable advantages today's entrepreneurs and changemakers have at their fingertips. Sharing a personal anecdote about her first nail-biting foray into business ownership, she reveals the life-changing advice her brother-in-law, a multi-million dollar business owner, gave to her years ago, that still guides her work today.

Further Reading

  • Haudenosaunee
  • Anishinaabe
  • Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte
  • Neil deGrasse Tyson
  • Lieutenant Governor's Visionaries Prize
  • Ontario 150
  • Financial Times
  • Migwetch


    Thank you everyone for being here today. It's absolutely fantastic to be with everyone.

    Acknowledgements & Welcome

    [00:06] Before I begin, I want to acknowledge that we are on the traditional lands of the Haudenosaunee, Anishinaabe and the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte. I would like to pay respect to the land that we have shared with them for countless generations. I believe that it's critical that we show respect to indigenous people to acknowledge them for sharing their land with us, for their contributions and recognize the role of the treaty in Ontario.

    [00:38] Woooohooo! Yay!

    [00:42] Hundreds of years after the first treaties were signed, they are still relevant today. We need to remember that that is our base and that is where we started from.

    [00:56] And I want to welcome every single one of you to welcome and Ontario whether you are from the business community, an investor, an innovator or one of the awesome visionaries of this wonderful event. Please everyone, join me in giving all the organizers a round of applause (clapping).

    [01:22] So to all the hardcore technology geeks out there, to the political and academic leaders and of course, to our innovators, these are your finest hours. Welcome!

    [01:38] Whether you're physically in Kingston or taking part online from around the world, this is your Breakout Project. Well done everyone, this is so exciting!

    [01:53] So here are, after two thrilling days of hard work from our talented teams of entrepreneurs, our social innovators, our communicators and artists. And thank you out to everyone watching as well, this has been a celebration of entrepreneurial talent. And spirit.

    [02:13] It's been amazing to watch you work together online and to build awareness of your projects. To connect with all of the other attendees and speakers. And to muster support for your vision. All in 48 hours. Awesome!

    [02:34] I know that you have probably all been under a lot of pressure but I know you've also had a lot of fun. And there's more of it to come.

    Building A Future Together

    [02:45] You know the Astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson had a great quote about innovation and please indulge me for a moment while I repeat it to you. He said that for most of human civilization the pace of innovation has been so slow that a whole generate might pass before a discovery might influence our lives, our culture or society. Those times are gone.

    [03:17] I don't need to tell anyone that over the past 50 years, the rate of innovation and discovery has increased exponentially. This week, we're seeing a tiny microcosm, a sliver of that acceleration. These innovators have literally reached out to the whole world with big ideas for improving and shaping our world and our future. The innovations and technology of today would have been absolutely astounding a generation ago. That historical perspective is very important. As we race into the future is critical to remember how we got here. what we're doing right here and right now is we are charting that path forward for the future together.

    [04:20] We're building the future that we want to see. The future that we want to live in. And that's why I think it's so fitting that The Breakout Project is taking place right here in Kingston at historic, Fort Henry. We are literally surrounded by walls that are steeped with stories. Steeped with history. It's so fitting that we launch, catapult in fact, into the innovation realm in this very place.

    Celebrating Ontario 150 & Canada 150

    [04:59] For the people of Ontario and Canada, this is special place and a very special time. We mark the 150th anniversary of our confederation, a very significant milestone in our nation's history.

    [05:15] This fort played a strategic role in our nation's history. Kingston's central role as the first capital of the United Canadas. This 150th anniversary provides us with a chance to show our pride. To celebrate the remarkable journey that we've taken together. An opportunity to invest in the people and communities that help us write the next chapter of our story and shape the next 150 years.

    [05: 54] As part of the 150th anniversary commemorations, the Government of Ontario is supporting special events and initiatives to engage Ontarians of all ages. Everyone who is present and listening today keep in mind as well the Lieutenant Governor's Visionaries Prize will be awarded later this year honouring young Ontarians who address challenges the province will face in the next 50 years. Similar to The Breakout Project, these future leaders will identify and present their solutions at live events including right here in Kingston in September.

    [06:43] What you are engaged in, in this 48 hours, is a phenomenal example of how we will create strong economic cultural and social legacies through our Ontario 150th initiatives. We must support young Ontarians to interact, learn and innovate with the best and the brightest which is why we provided $600,000 to help create The Breakout Project.

    [07:18] Woohoo! Yes!

    [07:22] We supported The Breakout Project to find solutions to important global issues that impact us all. We're proud to partner with the City of Kingston and all of the Breakout Partners in this area, so thank you City of Kingston.

    City of Kingston

    [07:42] Every single day I see Kingston live up to its motto, ‘where history and innovation thrive’. if our history, natural beauty and cultural life, Kingston is known as one of the best places to live in Canada. [08:02 ]Last month Financial Times recognized Kingston as number one — Yes! Yes! Woooohooo! (laughing) — on a list of small North American cities of the future for foreign direct invest. Kingston has worked very hard to successfully attract foreign investors including major investors from China and Portugal.

    [08:29] Companies from all around the world, in fact, are bringing their businesses to Kingston because we you know how to welcome the future. It's a place known for fostering fostering talent, skills and creativity. It's a city with a vision for growth and innovation and a goal of being Canada's most sustainable city.

    [08:56] Outside of the work that is done by any level of government, I always believe that it's the human infrastructure if it works. It's the work of people in our community that have transformed Kingston areas into one of our provinces technical hubs, creating new jobs and strengthening our economy.

    Technology & Globalization

    [09:22] Technology and globalization are rapidly reshaping the global economy. This is how Ontario will compete in the future. We will not compete in a race to the bottom with low paying jobs, making the cheapest possible widgets and selling them on the international market. Plus, who wants to anyway?

    [09:46] We are building the future you want to live in tomorrow by building the technology, the infrastructure and the kind of society that we want for today and for tomorrow. We need to strive to build the kind of society at looks after the most vulnerable, that nutritious Mother Earth, that acknowledges and combats climate change and most importantly, that give people hope.

    [10:20] Our business growth initiative as committed $400 million over the next five years to make sure Ontario's highly-skilled workforce can compete through innovation. Remember that figure. It's a lot of money. $400 million over the next five years. Remember and apply for it. Be on the edge of your industries. Be part of making Ontario the greatest possible place that it can be. Plain and simply, innovation is part of our government's ambitious and proactive agenda or success.

    [11:06] I truly believe, and I see evidence every single day in this role, that we are a government who's making a genuine, positive difference in people’s lives. That's why innovation is so important. Innovation delivers the future and that's why we're pleased to be part of The Breakout Project.

    The Power Within

    [11:33] Before my conclusion I want to leave you with a personal story, and when that relates back to that human infrastructure or what I like to call 'the power within'.

    [11:45] A whole bunch of years ago — way too many more than I'd like to remember — when I was 24 years old, after being a single mother for years, I had an opportunity to buy my own business. It was a 35 year-old flower shop in Toronto that didn't have a stellar reputation that it was OK. However impulsive I might have been in those years, I thought very carefully about the decision to buy this business or not.

    [12:15] I consulted far and wide. I asked everyone that I knew what they thought about the idea. I deliberated on every last detail, what I should be considering about buying this business. What if the neighborhood where the business was located was not sufficient to carry it in accordance to the vision that I had? What if I borrow the money to purchase the business and it went under? What would it do to my family? To daughter's life and her future?

    [12:51] In the many conversations that I had at the time, on of the people who's opinion I sought was that of my brother-in-law-to-be. He and his wife had two very young children who had successfully extricated themselves from 15 years in Scientology. Now, before I go on, you're probably thinking why would you consult with somebody who spent 15 years in Scientology? Think about it for a moment. They were older hippies, they had two small children and no work history for 15 years.

    [13:29] So, what Gary did is he identified problem and he realized at homes would be converting to natural gas heating from oil at fast and furious pace. They would need to convert their furnaces and chimneys to accommodate it.

    [13:46] So what are you going to do? You're older, you have a wife you have to support, a family and in desperation, he went to house knocked on the door and sold his first job. When he left that house he thought, 'OK, I don't know what to do now. How do I do chimney liners? How do I find out about that?’ He left the house, he went to the library and he learned how to do it. He taught himself how to change a chimney liner. Over the years, he built himself, and his family, a multi million-dollar business that now supports not only his own family, but his children's families and many of his employees.

    [14:33] So what's the connection? Why are we talking about this here and now?

    [14:39] My ex-brother-in-law who I still love to bits, heard me when I was talking about starting that small business. He heard mount up the reasons why I shouldn't do it.

    [14:53] His advice to me then and the motto that has guided me ever since was not to focus on something why something was difficult and challenging but to find solutions. No matter how big or small the problem, no matter how complex the solution, insist on seeing yourself as part of the solution. Cast aside what can be perceived as a cloak estate a safety that so often surrounds us and never be afraid of tackling the problems of the day. So let The Breakout Project strengthen your resolve be that change that you want to see in the world. Let it nurture the ability for us to utter fewer words and replace them with more action. Less greed and more giving. Less worried and more caring. Less anger, more laughter. Less hate and more love.

    [16:05] Let the world that you have [experienced] in the past couple of days never stop inspiring you. Never underestimate yourself. Or consider anything single challenge or problem to be too large where you cannot make a difference. You can do it.

    [16:29] So in conclusion my friends and on behalf of the Ontario Government and the Minister of Culture, Tourism and Sport, Eleanor McMahon, I want to thank the participants, the speakers, the panelists, the musicians. Every single one of the people who are here in attendance today and every single one of you who are out there online. Whether or not you are in Saudi Arabia, UK, Bangladesh, Netherlands, Tazimina, Norway, Uganda, Pakistan, Segal. No matter where you are, we know you're out there. The Breakout Project organizers and in particular, wherever you are, Grant Goodwin.

    [17:18] Yes! Let's hear it for Grant (clapping).

    [17:23] For all the creating, envisioning and staging this wonderful event. Thank you!

    [17:28] And of course to our teams taking part in this inaugural event. Let me repeat inaugural Breakout Project. This is just the beginning.

    [17:43] Thank you so much. Thank you everyone. Have a wonderful Breakout Project! Merci beaucoup! Migwetch!

    Also from this talk

    Join the Movement.

    Subscribe to our newsletter to receive event updates, speaker and team announcements, exclusive offers and more.

    • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.