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March 9, 2020

“I had no idea!”

Last week, our annual CICan On the Hill event brought college and institute presidents, government relations leads, and students to Ottawa for a packed agenda including panels, armchair discussions and meetings with members of parliament (MPs) to share the college and institute story! Our visitors held 40 meetings with MPs and senators, among them Minister of Justice and Attorney General David Lametti, seven parliamentary secretaries, and chairs, vice-chairs and members of key House of Commons committees. We also hosted over 70 of your students to share their innovative projects in a Student Showcase reception with Minister of Innovation, Science, and Industry Navdeep Bains and Parliamentary Secretary Will Amos, Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth Bardish Chagger, Canada’s Chief Scientist Dr. Mona Nemer, and many other MPs from different political parties. Minister of Middle-Class Prosperity and Associate Minister of Finance Mona Fortier also joined us for the event’s official opening!

There is no stronger voice for advocacy than a real story, from the source – which is why our CICan On the Hill event is so important. Many parliamentarians left their meetings in awe after hearing real examples of the business and community solutions you are leading to drive the Canadian economy. We owe a big thank you to the incredible students and alumni who shared their amazing projects in applied research, social innovation, entrepreneurship, sustainability, reconciliation, and inclusion – here’s a snapshot of what we saw from these superstars:

  • In agricultural innovation, Kyle from Okanagan College, designed a custom control and monitor system for a mid-sized lettuce-growing hydroponics farm; and Brian from Niagara College developed a custom hazelnut-growth monitoring system using time-lapse cameras and sensors for Ferrero Rocher.
  • In sustainable food systems, Blaire from Lethbridge College explored the use of precision agriculture technologies like variable rate irrigation in conserving water resources while maintaining crop yield; while Chinh from George Brown College supported stakeholders looking to build and improve farm-to-school programs. Students from Centennial College and St Lawrence College (SLC) also worked with community partners to explore building and strengthening sustainable local food systems.
  • On the culinary end, Thomas from Collège de Maisonneuve helped develop a mobile app that uses artificial intelligence to recognize and assess the maturity level of fruit; and from Niagara College, Kyler participated in a project to develop Canada’s first-ever distilled non-alcoholic gin with zero calories, zero sugar, and zero hangover.
  • In reconciliation, River from Olds College led his institution in caring for the campus medicine garden featuring tobacco, sage, and sweetgrass; Selena from Lethbridge College worked on a project to promote awareness of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls; and Yukon College students explored how to better tell the story of mental health and awareness on campus with traditional ways on knowing and doing.
  • In community planning, Thomas from Kwantlen Polytechnic helped the City of Surrey address perceptions of community safety and neighbourhood crime; while students from Fanshawe College helped the City of London’s Planning Department establish baseline land-use information.
  • In social innovation, NorQuest College students helped make more blankets available for distribution to the homeless, to refugees, and to agencies that help newcomers and those living on the street; and SLC students supported mother-led families looking to earn college diplomas, start careers, and achieve economic self-sufficiency. Students from Algonquin College helped Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) identify critical pain-points in applying for and obtaining an Open Work Permit; and Vicky from George Brown helped capture qualitative user data to better understand the emotional journeys of the average adult ESL student. Tiffany and Miguel from Collège La Cité also collaborated on the development of a mobile app for learning Quebec Sign Language.
  • In accessible and wearable technologies, from Fanshawe College Mary and Crystal explored the possibility of creating a smart textile or wearable technology capable of conduct its own energy through body movement; and Kelly examined adaptations to clothing required for children who wear medical technology such as central (intravenous) lines, G-tubes, and ostomy bags.
  • In health, Leeann from George Brown explored wellness through innovative technology allowing stroke survivors with hemiplegia to reintegrate into society; and Stephanie from Thompson Rivers University put together an innovative campus and community program that promotes inclusion and mental health through uplifting messages for students.
  • In green technologies and energy alternatives, Levi from NSCC looked into building a financially accessible DIY-kit for electric vehicles; and Christina from College of the North Atlantic investigated the potential of creating a “green mining” process in Baie Verte. At SAIT, Marlon and Matthieu worked on a project to maximize clean energy supply using waste products; and from Saskatchewan Polytechnic, Neha looked into ways to produce biogas energy from wastewater treatment.

In total, over 70 students joined us from 25 institutions across the country to share their innovative projects: Algonquin College, Cambrian College, Centennial College, Collège de Maisonneuve, College of the North Atlantic, Collège la Cité, Durham College, Fanshawe College, George Brown College, Kwantlen Polytechnic, Lethbridge College, NBCC, Niagara College, NorQuest College, NSCC, Olds College, Okanagan College, SAIT, Saskatchewan Polytechnic, Seneca College, Sheridan College, SIIT, St Lawrence College, Thompson Rivers University, and Yukon College. Find the full list of project descriptions online.

During the amazing student showcase, we were thrilled to sign a new historic agreement with Mitacs to drive innovation with 1,000 research internships for college and institute students! View photos from the event on our Flickr page.

Explore the full Connection Conference program!

Did you know that our annual conference is in less than 70 days? This is the largest event of its kind in Canada, so be sure to register, book your travel, read about our keynotes, and explore the full program now!

This year’s event has six streams, with Indigenous education as a cross-cutting topic incorporated across the program. Explore sessions related to:

  • Governing excellence: presenting sessions related to institutional planning and creating institutional structures that drive change;
  • Wiring for Student Success: with strategies to better orient institutions to ensure the success of their students, including creating inclusive and intelligent campus spaces;
  • Hacking Education: including innovative teaching and assessment methods to take learning beyond the typical classroom setting;
  • Embodying Sustainability: exploring how colleges and institutes can expand their leadership role in contributing the SDGs and ensuring sustainability;
  • Driving Innovation: presenting sessions related to building a culture of innovation on campus and encouraging students to pursue entrepreneurial ventures; and,
  • Going Global: covering the full range of international activities undertaken by colleges and institutes.

Join us May 3-5 in Montreal. Early bird pricing ends March 15. Stay up to date online, including the latest on COVID-19.

Present at the Pre-Conference Forum


We are seeking your presentation proposals for this year’s pre-conference forum serving rural, remote, and northern communities taking place in Montreal from May 1-2!

Focusing on Sustainability and Prosperity, the forum will provide a platform for interactive discussions on colleges and institutes as front-line contributors to the advancement or priorities in rural Canada and explore how rural, remote and northern communities can contribute to and fully participate in Canada’s economic growth and prosperity.

Submit before March 20.

Presentations should address one of the themes: attracting and retaining talent, meeting the needs of diverse learners, facilitating connectivity and digital access, responding to climate change, advancing economic development, and building a culture of innovation.

Lead a break-out session or affinity group workshop at the WFCP World Congress

The World Federation of Colleges and Polytechnics is looking for proposals to lead break-out sessions and affinity group workshops held in tandem with its annual world congress!

Proposals for break-out sessions should target themes of the congress, including TVET in a global economy, inclusiveness in TVET, and platforms for excellence in TVET; while proposals for affinity group workshops should align with one of the WFCP’s seven affinity groups: applied research and innovation, student support services, sustainable leadership for development, higher technical skills, access to learning and employment, entrepreneurship, and sustainable development for green colleges.

Submit before March 15.

The WFCP’s 2020 World Congress is taking place in from October 15-16 in San Sebastian, Spain and brings together leaders, practitioners, and students of technical and vocational education and training (TVET) to share and learn from each other and set a new course forward for TVET.

Eureka! Moment

Did you know that Coast Mountain College recently released an Indigenization at Coast Mountain College report reviewing its progress and next steps towards improving access to education for Indigenous students? The report shows institutional progress on four key mandates: the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, the UN’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Coast Mountain’s internal Stepping Stones Guide to Improved Relations, and BC’s post-secondary framework and action plan. The report also includes personal experiences and stories of success from staff and faculty!


Langara College appointed Gail Sparrow Special Advisor to the President snəw̓eyəɬ leləm̓. In this newly created role, Ms. Sparrow will assist Langara in working with Musqueam on cultural and protocol issues.

Medicine Hat College appointed Dr. Vicky Roy as its next vice-president academic, effective Apr 20. Currently at BCIT, Dr Roy has a wealth of experience leading, developing, and delivering innovative courses and programs.


Nov 30 - Dec 1st, 2022
CICan on the Hill + Student Showcase
Ottawa, National Arts Centre
Dec 5 - 9th, 2022
Leadership Institute for French-speaking Managers
Quebec City, Château Laurier
Dec 5 - 7th, 2022
Perfectionnement pour les responsables internationaux
Québec, Hôtel Château Laurier
View more


Submit artwork to the Student Art Showcase.

Register for this year’s Leadership Institutes.

Send Us Your News

One of our main goals at Colleges and Institutes Canada is to champion and share the innovations and awesomeness of our members. You can help! We want to hear about your new applied research, industry and community partnerships, international education, important financial investments and more. Add to your media mailing lists! We’ll share member institution News Releases and other upcoming announcements online and with our national media contacts based in Ottawa.