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Our Digital Future – C’est ICI
Inclusion, Collaboration, Inspiration

Our Digital Future – C’est ICI (Inclusion, Collaboration, Inspiration)
Our Digital Future – C’est ICI (Inclusion, Collaboration, Inspiration) | Photo (detail): © Goethe-Institut Montreal

How can smart, digital tools for society and politics be developed in a short period of time? That was the aim of the competition called Our Digital Future – C’est ICI (Inclusion, Collaboration, Inspiration), in which the Goethe-Institut Montreal took the lead. 

By Annette Walter

Young people between the ages of 18 and 30 from Canada and Europe were eligible to take part in the competition organised by the Goethe-Institut Montreal together with ThinkYoung and Carrefour Jeunesse Emploi NDG (Montreal). Now the winners have been chosen from five finalists. The Thinkathon Online Challenge #2 with the title Our Digital Future – C’est ICI is part of a two-year initiative to empower youth.
It works like this: The participants develop policy recommendations for Canadian and European decision-makers thus helping to shape an integrative digital future. The teams virtually designed creative projects in a digital medium of their choice on one of the following topics: racism, health, climate change, gender equality and education. Each team was able to present their project in a five-minute pitch during the final online Zoom session. In addition to an audience award, cash prizes were awarded.

More microloans for BIPOCs in Canada

Nabeeha Pirzada presented the BIPOC Capital project for microfinance of the future. The problem they want to tackle is the lack of financial support for Black, indigenous and people of colour, who make up a fifth of Canada’s population. Only 13.6 percent own small and medium-sized businesses in Canada. Due to the lack of funding opportunities for them, digital progress is often more difficult for these communities to access. There is no long-term overall policy by the Canadian government to support BIPOC businesses. On the team’s policy recommendation, Pirzada said, “The Canadian federal government could assign interest-free loans to BIPOC companies, which will create more justice by ensuring that these companies are recognised, supported and upheld.” There should also be a microloan programme that would be fully digitally accessible via an app and website. The result: an increase in employment opportunities and a strengthening of the local economy. Ideally, this could somewhat reduce the prosperity gap caused by racist structures. The four creators of the BIPOC Capital project were honoured with the second prize for their commitment.

“Change the world, not women”

The first prize was awarded to the “MEL WIPSEE” project. It aims to use digital tools to create better opportunities for women in work, private and family life. “Change the world, not women” is their motto. Third prize went to “Greenorama”, which was conceived by three participants from Greece. The global protection of the seas can to be optimised through this project by means of digital data applications. Neo College, another ambitious project, aims to innovatively democratise education and implement interactive digital platforms that develop essential life skills. The audience award went to the project “Mr. & Mrs. SMITH” from France. It is developing a technological solution to the problem of regions in France with poor medical services, particularly for emergency care.
The lively discussion and the great enthusiasm demonstrated during the Zoom conference makes it clear that the collaboration will not end with a final online session. The teams will continue to devote themselves to their projects afterwards.