There are no borders around great ideas

March 10, 2020

On March 10, OneEleven hosted an Enhanced Citizenship Ceremony in partnership with the Institute for Canadian Citizenship. Executive Director Siri Agrell delivered the following remarks to 38 new Canadians, their friends and families.

Good afternoon.

Thank you so much, Judge Rodney Simmons, for being here and for letting us be a part of that amazing ceremony. And thank you Elder Wendy Phillips for being such an important part of this moment.

I want to welcome all of you here: to OneEleven and to Canada as official citizens.

It’s such an honour for us to host this event here today, and get to witness this important moment for all of you, and for our country.

I like to describe OneEleven as a place where smart people are doing hard things.

We’re home to 55 technology companies, founded by passionate men and women from all backgrounds. Together, our companies employ more than 1000 people, many of whom are newcomers to Canada, like you.

OneEleven is part of Toronto’s growing technology sector. And there’s a reason our companies and that sector are growing so quickly.

It’s because of people like you who have big ideas and big ambitions and the passion to bring them to life.

That’s what’s happening here, and that’s what’s happening in Canada. We are a place that believes in what’s possible.

There is no country that can put borders around good ideas. They are born all over the world, they come from all over the world.

But in Canada, and at OneEleven, we believe in supporting those ideas and the people who thought of them, who believe in them.

We believe in giving those ideas a home. Making sure they have the support they need.

Making sure they are given the care they require. We invest in them. We celebrate them.

We do this because it’s what’s right. But it’s selfish too. Supporting immigration and allowing amazing people to build their lives and their careers here, that benefits us all.

So many of our great business leaders, our great entrepreneurs, our great minds – they weren’t born in Canada, but they looked at Canada as the place where they could succeed.

It is not easy doing something new. You all know that.

You take so much risk to do something that’s important to you. You have to put so much on the line. Leave so many other options behind.

It won’t always be easy here. There are so many challenges that we all still face.

But I believe that technology and innovation can help us address some of those problems.

That our companies can create jobs and opportunities, and that all of you can create jobs and opportunities.

It’s especially meaningful that we are hosting this ceremony so close to International Women’s Day. Because just as no country can claim ideas as their own, neither can any gender.

OneEleven is proud to be home to companies founded by women, many of whom were also born outside of Canada and who came here with their families to seek out new opportunities.

Alwar Pillai, the founder of CEO of Fable Tech Labs, moved to Canada in 2018 and now leads one of our most exciting companies, which is working to make the digital world accessible to those living with disabilities.

And Melissa Nightingale, who became a Canadian citizen here today, is a great friend to our community and also leads a company called Raw Signal Group that is helping our companies and others be better managers, better leaders, better employers.

Liza Klimenko, who recently left our team to pursue a great new opportunity at Next Canada, used to be the person who sought out companies to join OneEleven. And she made it a big part of her role to seek out and support newcomer entrepreneurs, to partner with organizations that were supporting new Canadians and other underrepresented leaders. She also made sure we made immigration lawyers available for office hours within our community, to support those who are navigating the immigration process, just as she is. And I’m so happy she’s here for this today.

My own parents moved to Canada when my mother was pregnant with me, and I can’t imagine the bravery required to give up your support networks, your career, to move away from your family and start again somewhere new for your family.

I am so inspired by those women, and I’m so inspired by all of you.

I can not wait to see what they do next, and I can’t wait to see what you do either.

I hope you pursue your dreams, I hope you chase your big ideas. I hope that Canada lives up to its promise to you, and that you are welcomed and treated kindly.

And I promise you that for every person who is not kind to you, who is not welcoming — because there will be some — that there are at least 1,000 people right here in this building, who are rooting for you, who have your back and who are glad you are here, and that you are Canadian.

Thank you all, and congratulations. We’re so happy to have you here.

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