By Sarah Swartz, Lake Ontario Region, IC 2017 Press Corps
This year, I had the amazing opportunity to attend the second annual Canadian National Pre-Summit, twenty-four hours for me and over 60 other Canadians from Alberta to Quebec to celebrate Canada’s 91st year as part of the International Order, and learn how to grow and strengthen Canada’s BBYO presence. When I walked into the room, I was shocked at how many other Canadians are active in BBYO. We had so many differences depending on what region of Canada we were from, but one thing we all had in common was our dedication to our respective chapters, regions, and the International Order at large. Sure, we might like to order different drinks at Tim Horton’s, but our love for this organization unites us all. The steering committee really emphasized this idea through our first program, where we each made a flag for our region, and presented them in front of the entire group. While our flags were all different, we all valued connection to Judaism, leadership opportunities, and strong sense of community our region provides. This is what makes BBYO such a powerful movement - we are equally diverse and unified.
We then met with our regions to identify specific challenges within our chapters, and brainstorm effective solutions. Regional and international programs are incredible, but the most special and memorable experiences happen on the chapter level. It is the intimacy and support of one’s chapter which empowers members to become more involved on regional and international levels. We also heard from Jamie Reich, the director of outreach and programming at CJPAC, Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee. CJPAC encourages Jewish Canadians to engage themselves in political discussion and advocacy. She explained to us that it is so important to involve ourselves in the political process, to amplify Jewish voices in our communities and to advocate for what we care about most. This morning, we had a Canadian business meeting, and it was interesting to see BBG business meeting traditions from around Canada. At this business meeting, we worked together thinking of ways to improve connections between Canadian regions after IC. I learned so much at this summit, and made friends from across the country. I am so excited to bring back these new skills and ideas back to the Great White North to strengthen and inspire my chapter, region, and nation.