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Last week St. Mary’s hosted ImagiNation 150 on campus, a legacy project that brings young people together with Members of the Order of Canada into focus group discussions regarding their hopes and fears for the future of Canada with the intent to collect, analayze and present the results.

St. Mary’s was honoured to welcome Order of Canada Member John Hugh Currie to campus, who has deep ties to the school, as well as Janet Lane, Director of the Human Capital Centre with the Canadawest Foundation.

The moderated discussion was a strong way for students to consider the future of the nation and discuss topics and ideas that may not have been considered before according to Michael MacLeod, Chair, Social Sciences and Associate Professor of Political Science at St. Mary’s University.

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“I believe the students benefitted mainly from thinking and talking about Canada’s future with other people of their own age,” said MacLeod. “These young people will likely be around for Canada’s 200th birthday in 2067 and they realize that they have the responsibility of shaping Canada’s next 50 years.”

MacLeod wasn’t sure of the response from the students but admits that he was surprised by the enthusiasm exchanged in the discourse.

“I was very pleasantly surprised by the degree of enthusiasm and participation that the students showed,” said MacLeod. “When I first met the students I wasn’t sure they were confident enough to be part of this type of event. However, not only did they show confidence but they impressed the organizers who told me afterwards that these students were among the most expressive, the most talkative of all the groups they had seen at these types of events.”

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Topics such as using natural resources wisely and building healthy communities were discussed in order to craft a report that will serve as a vision document for all Canadians, providing the direction for deliberation and action.

As for initial feedback from the students who participated, MacLeod says that the reception was quite positive.

“The students seemed to have thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to be part of this,” said MacLeod. “All of the students were nominated by at least one or more professors at St. Mary’s and they seemed to be genuinely thankful for having been recognized as some of the ‘best and brightest’ of what we have to offer the world.”