New Berkeley grad combines athletics & advocacy; Canada’s innovation problem

A newsletter from a fellow Canadian organization in the Bay Area.

Canadian Studies Announcements

In This Issue:

Berkeley News

  • Canadian triple-major combines love of sports with passion for advocacy

News from Canada

  • BlackBerry case shows why Canada needs an updated innovation policy

External Events

  • May 2-4 Happy Hour & Trivia
  • Royal Canadian Legion Memorial Day Service
  • Université de Montréal Alumni Cocktail Reception


Canadian Triple-Major Combines Love of Sports with Passion for Advocacy

As part of its series on the class of 2023, Berkeley News profiled Canadian student Ben Coleman, who graduated Saturday with a triple degree in English, political science, and legal studies, and a minor in journalism.

Coleman’s academic career married several of his personal interests. Since childhood, Coleman has had a passion for sports, and he played hockey from the age of five through high school. But Coleman also loved reading and writing. At Berkeley, Coleman combined these interests in his work as a sports reporter for the Daily Cal, eventually being promoted to section editor.

Coleman also has a long interest of community outreach. In high school, Coleman and his sister founded the FANS (Full Access for Newcomers to Sports) Foundation, a non-profit registered in both the US and Canada that helps immigrant families access team sports and other youth activities. Coleman continues to be involved with the group, which has benefitted over 500 children since its foundation five years ago.

As the son of two lawyers, Coleman also understands the power of the law in changing people’s lives. As a student, Coleman held two summer internships with firms in Canada. And at Berkeley, he was a research apprentice with the Berkeley Center on Comparative Equality and Anti-Discrimination Law, addressing issues like the MeToo movement, disability rights, and diversity in education.

Coleman hopes to make community service a central pillar of his post-graduation career. For now, he has accepted a one-year position with the Minnesota Vikings as a social impact associate, working on projects such as youth events and nonprofit partnerships. He then plans to attend law school, to pursue either sports law or nonprofit law.


BlackBerry Case Shows Why Canada Needs an Updated Innovation Policy
The critically-lauded new Canadian film BlackBerry chronicles the rise and fall of one of Canada’s most iconic technology companies. As a market innovator, BlackBerry shaped the way we use modern phones. Its products were widely used, including famously by US president Barack Obama. Yet in just a few short years, the company completely collapsed, disappearing almost overnight, and no Canadian company has come close to replicating its success. What went wrong, and what does the BlackBerry Saga tell us about Canada’s innovation landscape?

In a recent opinion piece, senior CBC business reporter Peter Armstrong argues that the problem largely lies in policies that discourage innovation. Pointing to Silicon Valley, he notes that when past crashes led to the collapse of major corporations, there were dozens of smaller corporations jockeying to take their place. In Canada, there were few local companies to fill the void, leading to Canadian assets being gobbled up by foreign multinationals like Huawei. Additionally, the lack of competition in most of Canada’s business sectors gives companies little reason to innovate.

Another hurdle is Canada’s close proximity to the United States. While Canada produces thousands of high-quality university graduates, less regulation and higher salaries frequently entice entrepreneurs south. While strict regulation helped Canada avoid disasters like the 2008 financial crisis, it can also reduce competitiveness. And getting Canadian officials to understand the needs of a knowledge-based economy is difficult, especially in an environment where the pace of innovation is constantly accelerating.

Nevertheless, business leaders are optimistic that these lessons are being learned. The Canadian government has made strengthening the tech sector a priority, both through immigration policy and direct support. It recently announced a new $2.6 billion dollar initiative, the Canadian Innovation Corporation, aimed at supporting entrepreneurs and start-up companies in Canada. While policy alone can’t guarantee a world-changing innovation, it can provide an environment where entrepreneurs feel safe to innovate without fear of failure.


May 2-4 Happy Hour & Trivia

Wed., May 24 | 6:00 pm | San Francisco, CA | RSVP

The Digital Moose Lounge and SF Canadian Expat Meetup Group invite you celebrate May 24 with a happy hour for the Bay Area’s Canadian expat community. Join the fun as they kick off the summer season with cold drinks, poutine and Canadian trivia!

Doors open at 6:00 and trivia starts at 6:30. Cash bar. Bring your friends, all are welcome! Please RSVP on MeetUp if you plan to attend.

Royal Canadian Legion Memorial Day Service

Sat., May 27 | 11:00 am | Colma, CA

Join the Branch 25 of the Royal Canadian Legion, representing the San Francisco Bay Area, for their annual Memorial Day Service, supported by the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps (USNSCC) – Arkansas Division. The service will take place at the Royal Canadian Legion plot in the Greenlawn Memorial Park on 1100 El Camino Real in Colma.

If you are unable to attend in person, you can register for a livestream of the event here.

Université de Montréal Alumni Cocktail Reception

May 31/June 1 | San Francisco & Los Angeles, CA | RSVP

The Université de Montréal invites its California alumni to network with fellow alumni and UdeM senior leadership over cocktails at two special receptions. University rector Daniel Jutras will be in attendance, as will Michael Pecho, vice-rector for alumni relations and philanthropy. Attendance is free, but registration is required and limited to university alumni.

The San Francisco reception will be hosted by Wilson Sonsini (One Market Plaza Spear Tower, 19th Floor), at 6:30 pm on Wednesday, May 31.

For Los Angeles-based alumni, a second reception will take place at 6:30 pm on Thursday, June 1 at the official residence of the government of Quebec in Beverly Hills.

Canadian Studies Program
213 Moses Hall #2308
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Canadian Studies Program | Univ. of California, Berkeley213 Moses Hall #2308Berkeley, CA 94720

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