Prime Minister Justin Trudeau brought equal amounts of enthusiasm and inspiration Friday as he helped kick off Hack the North with a brief but rousing speech to a packed house at Hagey Hall.
Trudeau admitted he once “sort of dropped out” of an engineering program, but said he envied about 1,000 students from top universities in 22 countries who gathered in Waterloo for the weekend hackathon.
“I love to fiddle around with gadgets,” he told the receptive crowd. “I love to try and push myself, challenge myself, meet new people and figure things out, and you guys are up for a weekend of doing just that.”
Organized by Techyon, a student-run non-profit organization, in partnership with Waterloo Engineering, the fourth annual event challenged teams of students to collaborate on ideas and solutions using technology.
'You have the power'
Trudeau praised participants as “quick learners, creative thinkers and natural risk-takers” who have what it takes to be the leaders of both tomorrow and today.
“I want to remind you - each and every one of you - that you are in a unique position to shape the future, that you have the tools, not only to seize the countless opportunities brought by a new economy based on innovation, but to help others to do the same,” he said. “You have the power to enact positive change right here, right now.”
Speaking to an international audience, Trudeau also used the stage to tout Canada’s diversity and willingness to learn from differences, rather than fight over them, as key strengths that are attracting major companies like Google and Microsoft to do business here.
“Dream big, work hard and have fun,” he urged students. “Most of all, enjoy the next few days - and get hacking.”