SHIFT One of the Key Changes Thunder Bay Needs


THUNDER BAY – EDITORIAL – It was a full week in Thunder Bay last week. Two events happened which will impact our region. One, the Young Professionals Network has shifted into “SHIFT”. The goal is bringing young professionals together to make a difference in our community and region. Second the McGuinty Government launched the Northern Growth Plan. This long awaited plan is a 25 year plan for the future of our region.

To me, the launch of SHIFT will likely last longer, and have more impact on the region than the Northern Growth Plan.


The Northern Growth Plan is, lets be honest, a political document. It outlines a set of ideals and a framework that the current provincial government, and those who were consulted would like to see happen in the region over the next twenty-five years. It is likely that those goals will change depending on who wins elections over the next twenty-five years. The plan offers some great vision, and is a good structure to build on.

The question might be who will do the building on the Northern Growth Plan, and that likely is where SHIFT comes in.

The SHIFT is apolitical. It is just one added example of the spirit of change and enthusiasm continuing to grow in Thunder Bay.

Already, The City of Thunder Bay is connecting with the enthusiasm and expertise of SHIFT.

On April 7th, SHIFT and The City of Thunder Bay are hosting a workshop on the priorities for the City of Thunder Bay.

One of our readers asked what exactly the difference between a “Young Professional” (YP) and other professionals. From many meetings with many of the YPs in

our city, the contrasts are stark in most cases. Most of the younger people in our community are engaged in the new media. Social networking, email, twitter, linked-in, and getting much of their information online are hallmarks of the young people in Thunder Bay.

The YPs are more likely to respond to email quickly. The shift from the younger generation who live with their smart phones is incredible.

A generation ago, a question asked of a politician or business leader could take days if not weeks for an answer, today with most YPs, it can be within minutes or hours. Even today, some of the politicians in our region can take days, or longer to respond to an email. Not all mind you, but some. It is a telling difference. Information travels at the speed of the Internet. That fact is changing our society and changing our world. In Egypt, Libya and across the world, the speed of information is impacting governments and deposing dictators. In short the speed that the YPs move information is one of the keys to understanding how they are changing Thunder Bay.

The reality is that with new ideas, and new technology, a tremendous shift is continuing to happen in the Thunder Bay.

Our regions young lions, and lionesses are taking on challenges, meeting them head on, and winning. Part of this shift is because of another factor that not many fully understand.

There is, due perhaps to social networking, but also due to a growing sense of responsibility, an instant willingness in many cases to share information, and to help each other. That shift is powerful, and will likely in coming months and years impact our local communities more than any government program ever could.

Another major shift is that many YPs are far more socially conscious and involved in causes in our communities than ever before. Often that is being done outside of any formal structure, it is that having seen what is needed many of the people who are up and coming in our community realize that old sports adage, “There is no ‘I’ in Team”. This philosophy has seen thousands of dollars raised, donated and many causes promoted.

By sharing in their time, talent and treasure, these YPs are making Thunder Bay a better place for all of us.

In some cases it is also likely confusing those of the older generations and some who are in positions of power.


Many in the political arena see things in terms of politics. The reality is that increasing numbers of Canadians are tuning out from politics. Increasing numbers of young people, in particular, are seeing politics and politicians as not particularly relevant in their lives.

Ask an average young person a question about politics, and chances are they will simply shrug their shoulders and tell you “Who cares”.

That is where the move by SHIFT and the YPs is so positive, and so needed in Thunder Bay. It is by focusing that positive energy, that over the next twenty-five years our region will see great change and will be best able to reach our full potential.

James Murray

To join the SHIFT visit

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