Letter from Janet Longmore, Founder and CEO at Digital Opportunity Trust

Tell us about your role and how you are contributing to the society:

download-2As the founder and CEO of Digital Opportunity Trust (DOT), I am a champion for technology-driven, community-owned, and youth-led solutions in developing regions of the world. DOT fosters a global network of thousands of young people who are invested in their communities as leaders of change and digital social innovators. In communities across Africa, the Middle East, and Indigenous Canada, these young people are creating solutions to local challenges, starting businesses, and creating jobs. A passionate believer in the power of youth and technology, I aim to promote respect for youth as a source of creativity, energy, and talent.

Presently, what do you like about Canada?

Canada’s greatest strength is its spirit of inclusivity and collaboration. Canada demonstrates the tremendous leadership potential of people of all backgrounds, including women, young people, and Indigenous Canadians. Our diverse population and talent represent a unique resource; the challenge is how to integrate this talent and diversity into our systems and ways of thinking. Canada has already begun to leverage these strengths through initiatives such as the Prime Minister’s Youth Council and the collaboration of private, public, and academic institutions on policy consultations, which foster open and inclusive discussion about the direction of our country while spurring creativity and innovation. Digital Opportunity Trust had the honour of contributing to that dialogue through the International Assistance Review and is proud that Canada projects its values of inclusivity and collaboration on the world stage as a global leader in the promotion of youth-led development and gender equality.

Your Letter to the Future:

To the Future of Canada (and I am talking mostly to you, young people who hold the future in your hands, as our young women and men do today):

Remember us? We are the age that gave Canada all things “digital,” the internet – or whatever you call it now. We connected computers, we connected networks, we connected things. Importantly, we connected people. We connected Canadians, all Canadians. Humans connected to humans, humanity connected. That was us.

Now, we are turning our attention to connecting things that are not human – cars that drive themselves, robots to do our daily tasks. Even drones that can deliver weapons, I am embarrassed to say. That was us too.

We are the ones who coined the term “disruption” in a spirit of celebration. But we acknowledge some unfinished business which I am hoping that you have resolved.

We knew that our fast-paced disruptions required shifts in moral and ethical leadership. We knew that young people, as natural adopters of technology, could truly leverage digital to make the world a more equitable and inclusive place, and we knew that our young Canadians could champion digital to promote human rights and shame those who didn’t. We knew that our young Canadians saw the future of digital as more than robots.

We agreed that connectivity was a basic human right, yet we still lamented that 4 billion of us were unconnected. I trust that you have rectified this.

And with this necessary rectification, I am hoping that you, young Canadians of the Future, are using the network of humanity to assert Canada’s respected role as the champion of ethics and morality that underlie connectivity, to focus on improving our health, our learning, our environment, and respect for contributions to an enriched society as a measure of value way beyond cold cash (yes, we still have cash).

I am hoping that you, and the generations of young Canadians that have stood between us, have dared to imagine a perfect balance of deep human connection, empathy, understanding, equity, prosperity, and togetherness in a collective consciousness and common cause – and have ensured that this has been enabled by you and your leaders who turned digital disruptions into opportunities for a truly peaceful, respectful and connected world.