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Voyageur Council Elections

Candidate Statements

Cam Thomas

For the past two years I have had the privilege of serving as one of the voting delegates for Voyageur Council. If elected, this will be my last time to serve in this role as it always good to bring in someone with new ideas. I have been an active member of Scouts Canada for the past 60 years – 10 years as a Cub, Scout and Venturer and 50 years as a scouter with groups in Oakville, Toronto, Kingston, Kincardine, Manotick and as of two years ago, Kemptville. My involvement as a scouter has always been at the section and group level. I am also one of the original members of Scout Eh.

The voting delegates have a formal role (to vote at the annual general meeting for board members) and an informal role – to act as a liaison between members of the Scouting movement and the Board of Governors. Voting delegates have no authority to set policy or become involved in operational items. However, the Board has recently used them as a sounding board on the direction of Scouts Canada. This has been a positive change.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been very tough on Scouts Canada. Our membership is down more than 60% and it will be very difficult for many individual Scout groups to recover. In fact, it is an open question at the moment as to whether Scouts Canada can recover to become a relevant movement again for the youth in Canada.

If elected, there are four issues I would like to highlight with Scouts Canada.

  1. Scouting is an organization full of great friendships and companionship. However, we have very high turnover of leaders and a lot of dissatisfaction with both the support provided (training) and the resolution of adult conflicts within Scouting. We need to work together to rebuild the movement respectfully. The internal discipline process is not conducive to this – too many leaders are sent out of Scouting with no chance to provide their side of the story and no chance to work out the issue, contrary to the bylaws, policies and procedures. This approach to problem resolution needs to change. Note I am referring to adult type conflicts, NOT issues related to youth.
  2. Scouting at all levels should ask former scouters who have left the movement for whatever reason to come back and help us rebuild. Their experience in invaluable and we should let them know the organization is listening and changing.
  3. Properties is a controversial issue. With the decrease in membership, the revenue for most Scouts Canada camps will be far less than expenses. We need to hold on to many of these camps and let local camp committees and volunteers continue the great work they have done in the past without excessive control from above.
  4. Training is best delivered in person with experienced scouters and trainers. The administrative side (paperwork and forms) can be done on-line but we need to encourage in-person training and support on how to deliver a great program and how to deal with youth and other leaders.

A successful movement occurs at the section level – not the area, council or national level. Run a good program with lots of outdoor activities and youth will join. Allow individual sections and experienced leaders to have significant input as to how the organization should function and individuals will be willing to help others succeed. Support individuals with effective training and mentoring and sections will flourish.

If I am elected as a voting delegate, I will do my best to listen to others concerns about the direction of Scouting, but I promise to ask tough questions and challenge our leadership to make significant reform within the movement to reduce the bureaucracy, empower local groups and take steps to ensure we continue to own many of the properties we already have for future generations. As well, I believe every adult member of Scouting should be voting directly for Board positions and will push for this.

To survive as a significant movement we need to acknowledge we have major problems and be open and transparent with our membership. I am always open to comments and suggestions from others but I can guarantee that as a voting member I will ask tough questions and always vote for what I believe is best for the movement.

Geoff Williams

Scouting to me is more than a service provided for kids. It is a supporting network, a community. It is a place where people can grow, make mistakes and face some of life’s most difficult challenges with friends cheering you on. Scouting in my youth provided me with an environment to learn in a manner that suited my needs and helped me to address personal challenges in my relationships with my peers. As an adult, Scouting has helped me with personal and professional growth and has supported me through more life milestones than I can count.

When I was offered the opportunity to give my professional life to Scouting, it felt to me like a gift. The chance to give back to an organization that helped shape who I am as an individual, and to help provide the same opportunities I had as a kid for the future generations to come. I leaped, and never looked back.

My Scouting career has taken many turns giving me plenty of time to see how our organization works to Support our members, behind the curtains. I’ve also proudly led a number of projects to help deliver on our mission including, National program facilitation, Council and local program facilitation and delivery, mentoring and training, community partnering, volunteer recruitment, process optimization and resource development and distribution, to name a few.

It is my belief right now, that Scouts Canada’s has a tremendous challenge ahead, but also its biggest opportunity. With all the changes and upheaval in our lives this past year and a half, our communities have been left somewhat disheveled and disorganized as families and businesses navigate ever changing restrictions. With the right people, and the right messages, we have the chance to be a determining factor in how these communities rebuild and to really showcase how Scouting can have a profound and meaningful impact on our members today.

Should I be elected as your Council Voting Representative, I would like to bring my beliefs and values to the table and help to provide a strategic vision of post-pandemic Scouting. I am confident these beliefs and values are also representative of the greater Scouting body in Voyageur Council, it would be my honor to be a voice for you.

I am an open book and always welcome hearing from other Scouters. If you have questions or comments please feel free to reach out to me.

For your consideration

Graham Birkenhead

I am submitting my application for the role of Voyageur Council Voting Representative. My scouting experience, professional expertise and personal interest and beliefs make me an ideal candidate for this role.

In Canada, I have experienced scouting as a parent, troop scouter, group commissioner and area commissioner. In September 2011, I assumed the role of Troop Scouter within months of becoming a scouter; I improved the program and substantially increased membership.  As the Group Commissioner of 1st Kanata, I focused on building core strength and unity of the Group. While numbers grew slightly, my main aim was program quality. My time as Carleton Area Commissioner was largely spent supporting group commissioners through clarification of policy and procedures, being a champion of scouter development through learning, working to create a sense of unity and belonging, and ultimately assisting in the transition away from Areas into the current structure.

As a management consultant, my main area of expertise is organizational design; this involves consideration of all elements of an organization from clarification of vision and strategic goals to defining operational objectives, to the design and optimization of the processes to achieve them. It also includes developing leadership and management practices and the all-important culture that binds these elements together.  Strong connection with values and a sense of mission are crucial to success.

My motivation for involvement in scouting derives from my personal development experience. I was a cub scout in the UK, I participated in the Duke of Edinburgh scheme during high school and at university I pursued outdoor activities such as mountain hiking, diving and orienteering. I took adventurous training opportunities while serving in the Royal Air Force, and I pursued diving to become part of UK national circuit of diving instructor trainers. It was involvement in these activities that that gave me the life skills that have been instrumental in the success I have experienced in my professional positions. And so, I passionately believe in the value of scouting in providing opportunities to develop our youth beyond home and school, providing personal growth in leadership, self-reliance, confidence, team-work, and an appreciation for the world we live in.

There are interesting times ahead for Scouts Canada.   Much excellent work is being done at all levels of the organization to navigate these challenges, and not only to survive, but ultimately to emerge stronger.  However, while driving through the necessary changes, it is crucial that we maintain strong and effective governance.  My combination of scouting experience, professional skills, and motivation towards scouting put me in a good position to be able to make a strong contribution to this endeavour as a voting representative on behalf of Voyageur Council.

Paige Gladwin (Youth)

Hello Voyageur Council! My name is Paige Gladwin, and I am running to be one of your Council Voting Representatives. My Scouting journey started in 2006 at the Troop level. Since then, I have been a Scout, a Venturer, a Rover, a Colony Scouter, a Company Scouter, a Group Committee member, and my current role is Voyageur Council Youth Commissioner.

In my professional life, I have an Honours Bachelor of Arts from the University of Ottawa. Since graduating, I have taught Communications for three semesters at Algonquin College, and I recently started a new job with Employment and Social Development Canada.

Scouting has been a huge part of my own growth and development, and I really believe in our mission statement of creating well-rounded youth better prepared for success in the world. I have seen that mission statement personified through my fellow Scouts, and I think we can continue to impact the lives of Canadian youth through growing the Scouting movement.

If elected to this role, I would strive to have open engagement with the members of Voyageur Council in order to be able to represent their voices, and I would seek to collaborate with fellow Council Voting Representatives from across the country to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing our local Scouting communities. I believe that my previous Scouting roles, both as a volunteer and as a youth participant, ranging from the Section and Group level to the Council level give me an understanding of the full range of the Scouting experience. In addition, my professional experience in communications would be an asset in engaging with Council members and translating that feedback into effective communications to share with stakeholders across Scouts Canada.

Perry Schippers

I’m putting forward my name, Perry Schippers to be a Voyageur Council Voting Representative. I want to participate more directly in the decisions affecting the Scouts Canada organization, the Youth, the Volunteers, and the employees.

I believe with my Scouting experience, connections within the Voyageur Scouting community, my professional background, and my openness and willingness to listen and engage with anyone will allow me to represent Voyageur Council’s members.  When possible/necessary, I will reach out to the Council membership for input and guidance on issues and questions presented to the Council Voting Representatives.

Scouting Background

As a youth, I joined the Scouting movement in the ’70s when we lived in Saint John, New Brunswick as a Cub Scout, then a Scout, and finally a Venturer.  I had outstanding leaders throughout the program, supplying us with the training needed to have many outstanding and very rememberable adventures.  I still have great memories of my Scouting friends, Leaders, and our adventures.

In 1997 I became a Volunteer Scouter when my twin daughters joined 2nd Gatineau’s Pack.  I progressed thru the sections to Rovers.  I even helped with Beavers with a couple of different Groups.  I have completed my Wood Badge I for all Sections, Wood Badge II for Troop, Company, and Crew, and Wood Badge for Commissioners and all other required Training.

I have been involved in many Scouting roles and a variety of ways.  For instance, as an Advisor for the Voyageur Council Lost Children’s Services Group, where I had the fortune to work with not only the youth of the Group but also with youth from the different Groups who helped the Lost Children Services Crew at the various events it supplied services for.  They supplied services at events such as the National Capital Canada Day festivities, the Ottawa Ex, the Maxville Games, Ottawa Winterlude, etc.  I helped the Council’s Rovers in the former Heritage Area form their Crew.  I was the Crew’s Advisor for many years, and then took on the Group Commissioner role, which I am still doing.  From approximately 2010 to 2013 I was the Heritage Area Commissioner.  As the Area Commissioner, I also served as a member of the Voyageur Council Committee and enjoyed collaborating with my fellow Volunteers at the Council level.  During this time, I tried to visit each of the different Groups’ Sections multiple times during the years, not only because it was a requirement to do but more because I enjoyed visiting the Area’s Groups.  While I already knew many of the Scouters, it was a fantastic way to meet more of the Volunteers, and to see and learn how Groups differed in delivering outstanding programs.  This was also the time when the MyScouts application was introduced.  Working with the Area’s Team we were able to have all the Groups and Volunteers compliant by holding numerous discussions and training sessions.  As the Heritage Area Commissioner, I also formed the Area’s Camp Otter Lake QC Committee.  Before then I occasionally helped at the camp. I find enjoyment in seeing how the youth enjoy the camp and how we can aid the Section Volunteers in guiding the youth along with their adventures and to grow in many ways.

Today, I am currently active in the following roles: 1) Group Commissioner (and an Advisor) for the Heritage Area Rover Crew Group, 2) Advisor for 2nd Gatineau’s Venturer Company, 3) Advisor for 2nd Gatineau’s Rover Crew, and 4) Property Chair for the Scout Camp Otter Lake QC Camp Committee.

Personal and Professional

I am now retired but have had a variety of careers ranging from general home construction to department store management to insurance to assay plant tool design and machine maintenance to designing and constructing an assay crushing plant.  After completing my degree in Electro-Mechanical Engineering, I joined the Department of National Defence, as a Draftsman in the Air Office.  After doing some computer courses on my own I transferred to into Computer Services field where I have done many different things ranging from application development to systems and network design and implementation and management, to Database Management, to Service Desk Supervisor, and finally as an Information Systems Security and Privacy Specialist.  When I retired, I was the Information Security Advisor for the Navy’s Frigate project.

I hope the above information gives you a peek at who I am, and that you will vote for me as I would like the opportunity to be your Council Voting Representative.

Quinn McKinney (Youth)

Hi everyone, my name is Quinn McKinney and I am an Environmental Science Major at Carleton University. I was originally an active participant of Northern Lights Council, but since moving to Ottawa I have become an active member of Voyageur Council. I started Scouting as a Cub, because I was passionate about the outdoors and my parents wanted me to gain leadership skills. As I aged through different sections of Scouting, I became more involved from being Patrol Leader in Scouts to President for my Venturer Company and now I am currently my Rover Crew’s President. For the past 5 years, I have been a National Youth Spokesperson to advocate Scouting in the form of articles to TV interviews.

Even though I moved across the country, I have not stopped being a part of the Scouting Community. This is because I did research before moving and reached out to a new Rover Crew online and joined them, making amazing new friends that helped me discover my new home. Even though I was in a new environment, I still presented my ideas for activities like the ones I used to do back at home. I was shy at first, as some of my ideas weren’t typical, but I soon learned that my new Scouting family were just as open to new suggestions as I was. With the collaboration of our ideas, we created new programming and experienced new activities that we probably wouldn’t have experienced otherwise.

Throughout high school I was an environmental advocate by being a part of a special school project that engaged over 3,000 youth across the province of Alberta to synthesize a White Paper about Supporting Climate Leadership in Alberta schools. This paper contained the ideas of the students across Alberta on how to make Alberta schools more sustainable. Through being an active member in Scouts, this empowered me to take a leadership role and help facilitate these discussions to ensure every student was heard and to help synthesize and create the physical White Paper. When the White Paper was presented to our Premier at the time, Rachel Notley, it was very empowering to see the impact the youth voices have, as some policies were passed that supported a new grant for Alberta schools to have solar panels. Most people say that youth don’t have good ideas, but experiencing the impact of our paper first-hand, I have since been a strong advocate for ensuring youth voices are heard. 

One of the reasons I love giving back to the Scouting Community is to help empower youth as I have been empowered to be a change maker in my community. This is what led me to become a Beaver Scouter and President for my Rover Crew. As a Beaver Leader, I wanted to help share similar experiences I had during my Scouting journey and to help these Beavers to become the next generation of inspired leaders. I believe Scouting is crucial is help empower youth to be bold with their ideas and to speak up to become the problem solvers of today.

My vision as a next CVR is to engage members, with a focus on youth members, to bring these ideas/ concerns/ suggestions to the board. I hope to have many insightful conversations with members, hopefully in person if possible or through emails. I hope to bring all voices to the table, so the board has a good understanding of what is happening throughout our council.

Rod Wilson

Scouting needs a firm and experienced voice to help it emerge from this dreadful pandemic. I am seeking your support to be that voice and join with other Voting Members from across Canada this November to advise and guide Scouts Canada’s national organization and help with our recovery.

I have served on the Board of Governors, National Service Team, Ontario Incorporated Body, Voyageur Council Leadership Team and with 5 different Scout Groups in Quebec and Ontario.  I am currently Group Commissioner for 1st Manotick Scout Group. But the foundation of my Scouting always comes back to working with youth. I take great personal pride in having worked with an incalculable number of Scouts, as Troop Scouter, Baloo, and Advisor, plus being service scouter at 7 Jamborees, both national and international and oh so many camporees and hikes. I am the founding Scouter of the popular Rideau Challenge Journey that has operated for over 27 years, with an estimated 3500 Scouts getting a first taste of a challenging hike. Getting grounded through doing programs with youth, balances my more administrative contributions. I am proud of the recognition I have received for over 45 years of Adult Service to Scouting, including Bar to the Silver Acorn, awarded for continued especially distinguished service to Scouting in Canada.

I am astonished and left almost speechless by our volunteers that keep programs running through the Pandemic. The agility and adroitness to change from in-person (under pandemic rules) to virtual Scouting, and back and forth, is a huge testament to countless bright, dedicated Scouters we have in our Groups. I will be vocal in my support of them. Without our brilliant volunteers we would be paddle-less in mirky waters.

I am greatly concerned about Scouting’s post-pandemic financial health and as voting member I will use my professional and business skills to review, challenge, question and support our management’s recovery plans. I am encouraged by the level-headed, practical calm shown by our new Board of Governors Chair, Andrew Obee and, if elected to serve as a Voting Member I will support him with the best advise I can offer. 

In the very early days, Scouting started at the community group level. The National organization was created and developed to support Groups. My own Scout Group is in its 101st year of continuous operation. I believe Scouting will come back based on the strength of our local Groups. Support for Groups and resources to allow us to offer safe, excellent, meaningful programs must be the driving force for Scouting’s future stability. Moves by our national team to do this will have my support. Plans that syphon resources away from Groups, or addition of burdensome administration or policies will not get my vote.

I greatly appreciate your attention, and I would also greatly appreciate your support to allow me to serve as a Voyageur Council Voting Member for 2021-2022 Scouting year.