Lifting Off and Flying High: Talent, Success in Canada


McGill Institute for the Study of Canada’s annual conference spotlights homegrown celebrity and success

“Canadians in all domains wonder whether this is a good country in which to pursue a career. If we’re just starting out, will our talent be spotted and supported? Once we’ve lifted off, can we stay here, or do we need to leave Canada to find continued success? Are successful Canadians good at giving back and helping those just starting out?” asks Prof. Will Straw, Director of MISC. “We’re hoping our conference, with its stellar line-up of artists, athletes and innovators, will help us answer some of these questions. 

Speakers include musicians Patrick Watson and Béatrice Martin (Coeur de pirate), hockey greats Ken Dryden and Georges Laraque, BlackBerry co-founder Jim Balsillie, screenwriters Len Blum and Kevin Tierney, television producer and screenwriter Fred Einesman (ER, Private Practice), film director Deborah Chow, film producer Jennifer Jonas, Aboriginal actress Tantoo Cardinal, Olympians Jennifer Heil, Madeleine Willliams, Danièle Sauvageau and Richard Pound, Giller Prize Founder Jack Rabinovitch, media innovators Sylvie LaPerrière (Google), blogger Tamy Emma Pépin(Huffington Post Québec, Journal de Montréal), Ziya Tong (co-host of Daily Planet on Discovery), Jean-Sébastien Cournoyer (Montreal Start-Up) andRaja Khanna (Blue Ant Media), journalists Sonali Karnick, Jeanette Kelly and Steve Maich, Art Gallery of Ontario curator Kitty Scott, Just for Laughs founder Andy Nulman, and Canadian creative powerhouse Bertrand Cesvet (Sid Lee Inc.) 

Plenary sessions include:

Lift Off/Take Off: How is talent spotted in your field?  Do we need more effective mechanisms for recognizing talent in its early moments? 

Technological Innovation: A country’s success in technological innovation, we are told, has much to do with its capacity to attract talent from all over the world. Has Canada done enough to attract and nurture talent? Why does our official multiculturalism not make us the leading destination for technological talent from around the world? 

Staying Power: Sustaining a Career: What are the typical mistakes made by Canadians following an initial burst of success?  What are the greatest obstacles confronting Canadians who seek to maintain a career over time? 

Sports: Does Canada offer the appropriate levels of support for professional athletes? Is this support equitably divided along gender lines? Does it take into account the needs of athletes at different stages of their careers? 

Lifting off and Looking Back: A conversation by industry insiders hosted by Len Blum, screenwriter, film producer and film composer, and Fred Einesman, Canadian screenwriter, producer (ERPrivate Practice)

Culture and the Arts: Has Canadian culture changed enough that its successes reflect the country’s diversity?

For more details and the full program of the conference, visit the conference website:

Since 1995, the MISC has hosted large-scale annual conferences which foster informed, non-partisan discussions on issues affecting Canadians, ranging from Quebec-Canada relations, Aboriginal issues, citizenship and health-care to Canadian media, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, food, and cultural policy.


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