Mentoring professionals from across Canada just spent an incredible three days learning and discussing and working hard with colleagues to help chart the course for mentoring in Canada.

Equipped with the latest research demonstrating the impact of healthy, two-way relationships – of mentoring! – on a child’s developing brain, the impetus to act has never been stronger.

I am personally, and professionally, so excited by the conversations, invigorated by the enthusiasm and inspired by my colleagues and the youth in attendance at National Convention 2017.

This annual Big Brothers Big Sisters event began with a wake-up call from Torie Weiston-Serdan, Executive Director at Youth Mentoring Action Network. She reminded us that the context in which young people live their lives is critical to the mentoring process, and they need to be the core from which our programming develops.

Turning to issues that impact the non-profit sector as a whole, Julie Sweetland from the Frameworks Institute, offered a fresh approach to cause-marketing, reminding us all that the way we speak about our services directly impacts the way people support our organizations and challenges us to toss out some old habits and bring in some new language.

Big Brothers Big Sisters staff and volunteers from across Canada then took a hard look at our internal processes and network. Conversations, led by MENTOR’s David Shapiro, soared about what a Pan-Canadian mentoring strategy could look like, the traditional and non-traditional players who need to be engaged, and how we need to equip our people in order to achieve that vision.

With sustainability top of mind for every non-profit organization, Marnie Spears from KCI outlined the lasted trends in philanthropy and offered razor sharp advice to shift the focus from surviving to thriving.

Increasing our impact, amplifying our voice, strengthening our leadership and enhancing our sustainability are not topics unique to Big Brothers Big Sisters. They are not unique to mentoring. These are sector-wide issues.

The honesty – and bravery! – demonstrated through last week’s open and respectful dialogue are bright and hopeful signals for the future of mentoring, and for the non-profit sector as well.

Karine, a Big Brothers Big Sisters alumni and youth delegate, said it best: “Big Brothers Big Sisters isn’t just one-on-one matches and school programs. It’s really a group of people moving forward to change our country.”

Peter Coleridge
President & CEO,
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada