Elevate Toronto Brings Home Diversity & Innovation to Silicon North

Toronto parade in Silicon North Toronto: Just a collection of smart, congenial people from all over the world. We speak over 140 languages in this city alone. We've taken in 40,000 Syrian refugees so far which is 80% of our stated goal.


Elevate Toronto 2017 this fall will show the world once and for all – as though there was any dispute, really – just what an innovative, creative, diverse and multilingual city Toronto really is.

It’ll be a three-day festival running September 12-14 showcasing what a superlative technology ecosystem we have in southern Ontario and the rest of Canada. It’s not just about us here in ‘Hogtown’ as we’re affectionately called, it’s about all the other pockets of technological brilliance that will turn us into Silicon North. Elevate Toronto will bring together the MaRS Discovery Centre, the brightest lights from the Toronto-Waterloo Region Corridor and many others.


Toronto the Good Investment

two men in a canoe headed to Silicon North

Set your GPS to the True (Silicon) North strong and free.

Toronto is a ‘top 3 destination’ for capital investment[1].  A few hundred million dollars and a serious boost from the Canadian federal government[2] later, coupled with increasingly immigrant-unfriendly and isolationist policies[3] from the new U.S. administration and the brain drain in North America now moves north[4] instead of south.

Toronto is the most livable city in the world[5]. Sez who? Says Metropolis Magazine and if you can’t trust them who can you trust? How about The Economist which ranked us in the Top Five last summer? Plus we’re one of the safest cities in the world. In early July we celebrated our Canada Day Sesquicentennial (that’s 150, count ’em, 150 years of sticky, maple-syrup-flavored awesome) in early July.

We’re going to give Silicon Valley a run for its money.

What we love most about Elevate Toronto is that it’s actively, aggressively moving to include groups customarily underrepresented in technology cultures.


Elevate Toronto: Just Say No To Bro’ Culture

BBC Radio recently completed a study in which they determined that Toronto was the most diverse, multicultural city in the world with 230 nationalities represented and now more immigrant than not, with a foreign-born population of 51%.

Toronto Mayor John Tory specifically wants to keep Elevate Toronto from being overly-represented by men, as is often the case at technology venues. He wants it to be the “home of the disrupters” and there’s no better way to shake things up than by integrating the traditional demographic with women.

“Many rooms contain almost all men in large crowds. We will try to look at diversity overall in our selection of events with an emphasis on gender since that seems to be the bigger challenge.” 

– Mayor John Tory, City of Toronto

Elevate Toronto is sponsored by several groups including Move The Dial[6], formed to encourage and support female participation in tech leadership and Ladies Learning Code[7], an adult learning project for those wishing to program, whether they’re a lady, a gentleman, or ‘none of the above’.

Female leadership clearly needs encouragement. Only 12.5% of Canadian venture capitalists are women[8], although that’s nearly twice what it is in the United States . Forty-five percent of companies in Canada have all-male boards[9] and for those companies, growth is only up about one percent. Yay ladies.

The news isn’t all bad. According to Statistics Canada, women are becoming far more educated[10] and at a much faster rate than boardroom representation. Women are more likely to have higher education credentials and high school girls score higher than boys in reading and science, although they’re still a little behind in mathematics.


Statistics Canada chart on women's educational levels


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made headlines around the world with his now-famous response to a question as to why he made half his then-new cabinet women, “Because it’s 2015.” He said he wanted it to reflect the “faces of Canada” and it’s as multicultural as it is gender-balanced.

The cabinet of the previous Prime Minister was twenty-six members which included only six women, no Aboriginals and only two visible minorities. The Trudeau cabinet contains two Aboriginals, four South Asians and one Afghani Canadian.

The picture that’s quickly emerging in the business world and beyond is that Canada is a beacon of diversity, inclusiveness, innovation and enviable brain power in a world in which some regions are taking two steps forward, three steps back.


Now meet Julie Payette, the new Governor General

Justin Trudeau’s Cabinet was just the warm-up. The Prime Minister has now appointed a major heavy hitter.

Canada’s newest representative to the Queen is a woman so incredibly accomplished her biography almost reads like an Onion spoof. Julie Payette was born in Montreal, is fluently bilingual in English and French and also speaks Russian, Spanish, German and Italian. She is a highly successful businesswoman as a former vice president of Canada Lands Company and is an experienced jet captain, having logged many hours of flight time on CT-114 Tutor jets. She’s sung in orchestras around the world and plays the piano. She scuba dives, runs, skis and plays racquetball. She’s won numerous special honors and honorary degrees. For the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, she carried the Canadian flag. She was inducted into the Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame the same year and was also granted the NASA Exceptional Service Medal.

Julie Payette, Canadian astronaut & future Governor General

Canadian astronaut Julie Payette: She’s more productive than you even when she’s sleeping.

Julie Payette visited the International Space Station twice as a mission specialist where she supervised the space walk, maintained the Station systems and operated the Canadarm, a remote-controlled mechanical arm, also known as the Shuttle Remote Manipulator System (SRMS).Oh yeah, we almost forgot to mention, she’s also an astronaut!

That was just on her first visit. You don’t want to know what she did on her second. It’ll make you want to throw yourself into a huge bucket of Ben & Jerry’s and contemplate the existential futility of it all.

What did you accomplish this week?


Julie Payette even single-handedly saved the planet from an extraterrestrial alien invasion.

Okay, we’re kidding about that last one, but if we were invaded by extraterrestrials, you’d sleep better knowing that Julie Payette was fighting for Planet Earth. She’d face down those aliens after roundhouse-kicking Chuck Norris out of the way so the pro could do her job.


Elevate Toronto: Go Global and start right in Ontario

Just to show you how aggressively disruptive Elevate Toronto intends to be, and not just with a genderquake, check out on their website exactly who can apply for complimentary tickets with nothing more than the right passport.


Elevate Toronto complimentary tickets offered to anyone with a passport from the American travel ban list


If you don’t know what those countries have in common besides being generally in the same part of the world, Google ’em.


Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on how diversity is Canada's strength


Canada – and Toronto – encourage diversity, inclusiveness, multiculturalism, multilingualism and innovation. We look forward to Elevate Toronto[11] in September.

Come one, come all to Toronto. Our doors are always open to you.


Yappn Corp is a technology company with an office north of Toronto and an in-your-face enhanced machine translation software solution that’ll help you connect and communicate with all the great brains here in Toronto, throughout the country and everywhere else, in dozens of languages. For more information please contact sales@yappn.com or call us at +1.905.763.3510 x246. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook & LinkedIn!


Never miss out on another Yappn blog post!  Sign up for our new post email notifications today! We update the blog once a week. You might also get the occasional press release. We respect your Inbox!


[1] Ontario, Canada a ‘top 3 destination’ for capital investment
[2] Canadian tech is having a big moment and now the trick is not to mess it up
[3] American policies are sending precious startup jobs to Canada
[4] Canada benefiting from U.S. brain drain as skilled workers flee: lawyer 
[5] Toronto is the world’s most liveable city
[6] Move The Dial
[7] Ladies Learning Code
[8] MaRS to Venus: Where are the women venture capitalists in Canada?
[9] Virtually no change in getting woman on boards in Canada, stats show 
[10] Diverse tech: Innovative immigrants are showing the way
[11] Four Reasons You Should Move Your Startup To Toronto Today


Written by Nicole Chardenet, Sales Development Rep at Yappn


Share This Post