First person: taking on the world with Junior Team Canada

Working lunches with business executives. Meetings with governmental ministers. Receptions hosted by Canadian embassies abroad. Charter flights to remote areas of the jungle. Synopsis of the next James Bond movie? No, this is a synopsis of a Junior Team Canada mission abroad.

I’m one of 21 lucky youth leaders that were selected from across Canada to participate in a youth-led trade mission to Panama and Ecuador. There have been JTC missions abroad annually for almost 20 years, across five continents, and in more than 20 countries.

Last month, Junior Team Canada embarked on a mission to Ecuador and Panama to promote Canadian industry and institutions. As a team, we represent our organizational sponsors and, as individuals, we represent individual sponsors from every Canadian industry sector.

On August 12, we touched down in Quito at an outdated airport that has one of the shortest runways in the world for an international airport, literally in middle of a business and residential community.

Good thing that one of the mandates of Junior Team Canada was to work with the Canadian developers of the new state-of-the-art airport under construction, including the Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC) and Aecon Construction Group. This project is the single biggest infrastructure project in Ecuador right now and the largest concession granted to the CCC around the world. And this is made possible with Canadian partnerships, financing and expertise.

These are the type of world-class projects the Junior Team Canada investigates, promotes and provides outreach for in countries around the world.

In Ecuador the team also boarded charter flights to remote areas of South East Ecuador to do the same type of work for two huge Canadian investments in the mining sector. Canadian companies make up 97 per cent of the Ecuadorian mining industry.

So we made field visits to two important Canadian investments: the Kinross Aurelian project and the Ecuacorriente project. Without a doubt, these projects are world-class, to Canadian standards, and excel in their efforts of social and environmental responsibility.

In Panama, the team worked with the Organization of American States Youth Business Trust to work with Panama youth in developing their own youth and development programs. We held meetings with top Canadian business executives and senior governmental officials of Panama. The team worked with the Canadian Embassy to promote the bilateral Free Trade Agreement that was signed between Canada and Panama two weeks prior to the team’s visit in August 2009.

The work Junior Team Canada does is legendary, not only for Canadian youth in its leadership development capacity, but for Canadian business interests worldwide, which tend to be undervalued, under-appreciated, but key in global business value chains. Junior Team Canada excels in raising the profile of Canada worldwide.

Junior Team Canada is run by Global Vision, a Canadian not-for- profit organization that ignites Canadian youth into action, for the betterment of themselves, their communities, their country, and the global community.

For more information on Junior Team Canada and Global Vision, please see

Daniel Rodriguez graduated from the Bachelor of International Business program at the Sprott School of Business in June 2009, after having studied abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

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