Thunder Bay was the first stop on the Lieutenant Governor’s Visionaries Prize tour Wednesday evening at Fort William Historical Park.
The theme of the six-city tour is reconciliation and is designed to encourage individuals to come up with creative ideas related to important issues in communities across the province.
Six finalists presented their ideas to a live audience — and to judges Piya Chattopadhyay and Laurie Robinson — with the audience also in on the voting of the presentations.
“We, as most people in Canada, wanted to celebrated Canada 150, but I was really eager to make sure we didn’t just look backwards,” Lieutenant Governor of Ontario Elizabeth Dowdeswell told The Chronicle-Journal.
“That we really provide some opportunities for some new thinking and dialogue on what kind of future we want.”
Through visiting communities throughout Ontario, Lt.-Gov. Dowdeswell pinpointed six areas of the province that she thought would have challenges in the future. The Lieutenant Governor and her team then wanted to engage people who thought they were innovative and creative to think forward about addressing issues.
“We wanted something that is fun . . . and engage the public, that’s why we are doing these semifinalists . . . and we wanted to take it all over the province, we didn’t want to just do it from Queens Park,” explained Dowdeswell.
The Lieutenant Governor’s Visionaries Prize partnered with The Walrus Foundation to produce the competition that received funding from the Ontario 150 fund.
Participant Eva Kratochvil describes herself as social justice activist who worked for 19 years in the shelter system.
After the Truth and Reconciliation report came out, Kratochvil looked for ways to do something meaningful and saw the Lieutenant Governor’s Visionaries Prize as a way to make a difference.
“I really believe that it is not for anybody to come swooping in and say I have all the answers, rather it’s to look at the work that is being done by the individuals effected who have solutions and I really researched a lot of that,” said Kratochvil.
Dianne Lalonde said she was inspired by the difference that individuals can make. Lalonde was presenting on cultural appropriation, a topic she is familiar with after writing her dissertation on it.
“It is really a honour to present in front these judges on this topic of reconciliation because it is a way to apply these kind of theories that I am thinking about in a really tangible way that can make a difference in peoples lives,” said Lalonde.
For Jessica Rumboldt it was a process of self-discovery after becoming more aware of her indigenous heritage. Rumboldt did her masters on indigenous female offenders and is now doing her PhD on the topic and was also honoured to shed light and share the topic she is passionate about.