This new series will introduce you to our current, future, and even some past board members.
We have new members joining the board soon, and wanted you to have an opportunity to get to know them, as well as the folks who are currently serving.
The first person we'd like to introduce you to, was a long serving member and although he's moved on to new endeavours we wanted to share this post he wrote before his departure from the board.
Thank you Tyler, for your many contributions to NextGen Cape Breton.
I first learned about ‘brain drain’ during my 6th grade social studies class. The teacher explained to us that young people were leaving Nova Scotia for education or work and not returning home, but moving to more populated areas in order to work for organizations that offered better pay and opportunity. This trend was presented as an unfair practice and the class was assigned groups and asked how we would solve this problem.
I remember feeling a sense of guilt or pressure during the class, looking back it was a strange activity for that age. I’m not sure that it was essential to that day’s lesson plan but more that the teacher wanted to inspire us to stay and build a life our hometown in the future. Overall many students were hopeful that we could find meaningful work locally, but in 6th grade those thoughts and considerations faded when the bell rang and we got to play soccer during lunch.
Before finishing middle school I would move from Cape Breton, first to Shubenacadie, and later as a teen to Halifax and eventually to Guelph, Ontario for graduate school. My girlfriend and I agreed to return to Nova Scotia to start our careers following graduation and I could not help remembering my 6th grade social studies class on brain drain.
My move back to Cape Breton wasn’t planned. Initially I planned to move back to Halifax but while visiting family in Membertou I decided to stay a bit longer and spend the summer not worrying about my career just yet. Needing money however, I took on a short-term position where I would meet an employer who convinced me to move back to Cape Breton and join her startup full-time once my contract ended.
The move and career path were unplanned, but I decided to stay because of the collective attitude of the community. I met a lot of people who were starting their own businesses, and I found their confidence inspirational. These people wanted to see change and were willing to take action.
I’ve talked to many people about future of Cape Breton, and the conversation tends to shift to wondering what sector or industry is going to revitalize the economy, what could come here that fills the void left by the fishing, mining, and steel? Personally, I don’t believe there is any one thing that will dominate innovation and growth, and it may not even be economic development that drives this change.
I anticipate that the future of work will be more remote and people will be able to maintain careers anywhere in the world. We will have the freedom to choose both our job and our community and not lose out on one because of the geographic constraints. From this perspective, being the ideal community is about how we relate to one another and recognizing and integrating new people into the community in a meaningful and dignified way. My goal is to see Cape Breton as a place of social development, where the community is healthy independently from its economy.