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Focusing on Youth and Supporting Volunteers

May 01, 2023

New Executive Commissioner and CEO, Liam Burns, shares his vision as he joins the Scouts Canada National Key Three (NK3).

We all have stories of how Scouting changes lives. As a young person from a working-class background, I know it changed mine. As an adult volunteer, I witnessed how it changed the lives of others and as a professional staff member, I realized it could transform communities. Resilience, friendship, and trying to help people are the values I live by, and I developed in Scouts.

Over the past few months, I’ve heard stories of how important and transformational Scouting is to young people in Canada. it is with gratitude, humility, and enthusiasm that I take on the opportunity to co-lead Scouts Canada, alongside Stephen and Justin as a member of the National Key 3 (NK3).  

I’ve been impressed by what you achieved during, and following, the pandemic. Your dedication, despite the challenges you faced, is in part what inspired me to pursue this role. I can’t wait to celebrate this and many more exciting milestones as we continue to implement the Strategic Plan and welcome more youth to Scouting. 


First few months

During the next few months, I look forward to meeting and connecting with the Scouting community in person. Beginning in Vancouver, I'll spend May traveling east and visiting each region along the way. I hope to meet volunteers and young people throughout, before settling down in Ottawa in June and July and then joining the Canadian contingency at the World Scout Jamboree in South Korea in August.

My goal is to listen and gain an understanding of what young people, volunteers and staff want and need to be a part of a successful team of 15,000 that work together to help youth, from diverse backgrounds, discover new skills.

I want to give a huge thanks to Andrew Price. Andrew has contributed enormously to ensure youth have opportunities to thrive, not only as former Executive Commissioner & CEO but as a national and local volunteer and a Scouter in the program. I am incredibly lucky he has agreed to support my transition during the early days, and I appreciate his insights and mentorship. 


What you can expect from me

I am deeply passionate about achieving better outcomes for young people, especially those who can benefit the most from Scouting. I’ll be relentless in asking how and if our time, energy and resources will result in more young people, from all backgrounds and in all Sections, achieving their goals through Scouting.  

I am committed to being transparent and openly discussing what we are doing well, and where we must improve, whilst treating each other fairly and with respect, regardless of the role we play in Scouting. I’m keen to expose insights about our program, our demographics and the impact we have on youth so we can spot issues and co-create solutions, together - and I’ll expect us to act in line with our Scouting values as we do so.

I want us to be experts in the on-the-ground realities of Scouting for young people, parents and caregivers, and volunteers. I believe we can both be proud of the aspects of Scouting that help us achieve better outcomes for young people AND make changes to other aspects based on hard evidence of what works, what doesn’t, and how they support youth from diverse backgrounds. We’re not the user – young people, caregivers and grassroots volunteers are. I want your help in ensuring our services are evidence-based, user-centric and give us robust insights that we can act on. 


Initial priorities

I am eager to work with you, beginning with these initial priorities entrusted to us by the Board of Governors:

  • Aligning our team of 15,000 and successfully implementing initiatives to advance the goals of the four pillars of our Strategic Plan:
    • Making it easier for volunteers to support Scouting;
    • Reaching Canadian families through new approaches;
    • Ensuring young people from diverse backgrounds can join and thrive in Scouting;
    • Unlocking the potential of our properties to give more youth opportunities to benefit from amazing programming and nights away from home.
  • Ensuring we are prepared and resourced to continue our Reconciliation journey by committing to specific actions that will remove barriers and build relationships with First Nations, Inuit, and Metis
  • Creating a truly safe and inclusive culture that ensures all who undertake work in Scouting (volunteers & staff) do so free from harassment. 


Thank you

Whether you’ve been in Scouting all your life, or joined recently, you have your own stories of how non-formal education can change the lives of young people. I can’t wait to hear them. Until then, let me thank you for the part you play in those stories. What you do is nothing short of amazing, and I can’t wait to work with you to shape the next chapter of Scouts Canadas story as we help more young people, from diverse backgrounds, become well-rounded youth, better prepared for success in the world.