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Students Put Canada ‘on the Map’: Take Home Grand Prize for 2nd Straight Year

“I have really learned the value of taking the time to really explore all facets of a problem and to be thorough and diligent in analysis before looking to create a solution. The initial conceptions and assumptions that we all make are ones that sometimes lead down the wrong path, and contribute to problems rather than help to explore, refine and be at the forefront of meaningful and sustainable solutions. Our world is made more real by the questions that we ask of it, and the ability to always ask questions is an integral part of exploring modern issues.”-Roisin Dillion, Mount Royal University

Since late 2016, Trico Charitable Foundation has been proud to continue working together with the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation’s RECODE project and the Skoll Centre For Entrepreneurship on the global competition Map the System. Founder of Systems-led Leadership and former Deputy Director of the Skoll Centre Daniela Papi-Thornton explains:

 “We created Map the System as an antithesis to the business plan competition, instead, we want you to understand the system of that issue.”

It was a pleasant, if hoped-for, surprise when a Canadian team won the challenge in 2017 (2017 results here). Turns out that was no mere fluke, we are excited to announce two Canadian teams have placed first and third in the 2018 competition! First place was awarded to Roisin Dillion from Mount Royal University (MRU) who focused on the opioid crisis in Canada with a particular focus on fentanyl. Third place was awarded to the Bridging the Gap team (Stephanie Lam, Janani Ravikularam, Katrina Jang, Hussein Hagehassan, and Benta Cheng) from Simon Fraser University (SFU), who explored the mental health and wellness outcomes of second-generation Asian youth in the Greater Vancouver area.

Roisin explains her reason for choosing her issue:

“I wanted to be an advocate in an area where we sometimes make a moral judgement, and in doing so afford less of our attention to a particular community of individuals who we feel may be less deserving of this attention. When these gaps are translated systemically this leaves a lot of people without the ability to engage within their communities, and I hope to see that change in the future.”

Roisin Dillion

James Stauch Director of the Institute for Community Prosperity at MRU explains why Map the System is very different than most pitch competitions, hackathons and the like:

 “The Challenge challenges students to think in systems, which is one of the most important 21st century skills to have.  It aims to encourage students to dig beneath the surface and not be seduced by quick or easy ‘solutions’.”

Shawn Smith, adjunct professor and co-director of RADIUS SFU expresses his thoughts:

“We’re thrilled with the results from Team Bridging the Gap, and more importantly we’re just really impressed with the incredible amount of work they put in to advancing understanding of an important issue. The team has put in long hours and it’s been a privilege for the team at RADIUS to be able to support them, alongside our colleagues in Student Engagement and Retention here at SFU.”

Moving forward, Roisin hopes to continue to remain connected to the incredible people she met during this competition and to continue her research of exploring the existing solutions landscape:

“Eventually I hope to work within nonprofit or nongovernmental organizations to be an educator and an advocate for the merits of public health and global solutions in an increasingly globalized world. For now, I will continue my studies, and continue to utilize my Registered Nursing framework to continue this particular research- and I am really excited and thrilled to see where that leads.”

For the Bridging the Gap team, they are hoping to all take some time to reflect on their current positions as undergraduate students and where they see this project fitting in with their future. Stephanie Lam explains:

“We are still interested in learning more about the issue and discovering what other countries have done to address the issue as it is lacking in Canada. We are also keeping other options in mind such as designing programs/policies and further advocacy work.”

Team Bridging the Gap

Not only is Map the System another reason to be proud to be from Canada,  it’s a vital step forward in training changemakers to  fully understand issues before trying to solve them.


A special thanks to our partners: RECODE and Skoll Centre For Entrepreneurship, and all the Canadian post-secondary institutions and students that participated!


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