Spotlight on Meetings and Conventions

JCI World Congress 2016: A journey through one of Québec City’s major international events

From October 30 to November 4, 2016, Québec City became the epicenter of global change as it played host to the Junior Chamber International (JCI) World Congress, which welcomed over 3000 young leaders and national JCI presidents from over 90 countries, including Japan, India, Finland and Mexico. 

Credit: Guy Rainville Zoom

The six-day congress was the culmination of over 10 years of planning by Québec City entrepreneurs. Its resounding international success was subsequently recognized; JCI Québec 2016 was awarded Business Event of the Year at the Gala des Fidéides, held by Chambre de commerce et industrie de Québec, and Event of the Year at the Hommage aux ambassadeurs, organized by Québec City’s Ambassadors’ Club.

“JCI Québec 2016 not only put Québec City’s entrepreneurial spirit on centre stage but also proved that when all sectors of society come together, they can create sustainable, global impact,” said Mr. Jean-Simon Deschênes, Congress Director and Chief Executive Officer of JCI Québec 2016 and member of Québec City’s Ambassadors’ Club.

 Mr. Deschênes managed the 50-plus members of the congress’ organization committee, along with a myriad of partners, to pull off one of Québec City’s biggest business events in history—from the initial bid during the JCI World Congress in Rio de Janeiro in 2013 to all of the logistics and event marketing to post-convention wrap-ups and reports. 

For one, Québec City has a solid reputation for holding major events. Second, the quality of our partners’ services and the city’s accessibility made for a truly hassle-free event”

“The secret to the event’s success was the fact that we brought together public, private and tourism stakeholders to plan the event without a hitch,” Mr. Deschênes explained. “Since we were expecting 3200 people in downtown Québec City, we understandably required a lot of bandwidth from suppliers, including infrastructure and transportation services, venues and restaurants.” The team for JCI Québec 2016 worked closely with Québec City’s Ambassadors’ Club, Québec City Convention Centre, Jeune chamber de commerce de Québec, Association hôtelière de la region de Québec, the City of Québec and many other organizations and businesses to align efforts to cater the needs of the congress.

Leveraging the event’s theme, Peace Is Possible, JCI Québec 2016’s organizers planned a multi-faceted conference program to incite delegates to take action in their respective communities. “While the overarching theme was peace, it was stunning to appreciate how peace does not mean the same thing in every country,” noted Mr. Deschênes. Keynote speakers included Alexandre Bilodeau, two-time Olympic champion, Irina Bokova, UNESCO’s Director General and Chris Hadfield, Astronaut and first Canadian commander of the International Space Station (2013). “Mr. Hadfield’s talk was a huge hit; he captured our imagination and inspired us to achieve the seemingly impossible.” 


In addition, the event featured a wide array of training sessions, a tradeshow, World Elevator Pitch Competition, panel discussions, networking sessions,  industrial visits, excursions, sports activities and gala. “It made for a chock-full congress that kept attendees engaged and enlightened—one of the organization committee’s main goals,” Mr. Deschênes said.

Were there any challenges to organizing such a colossal event? “Without sounding facetious, the attendees were impressed by the quality of the event’s organization—the program, the accommodations, the transportation, the food, the staff, etc. For one, Québec City has a solid reputation for holding major events. Second, the quality of our partners’ services and the city’s accessibility made for a truly hassle-free event,” added Mr. Deschênes.


The biggest challenge? Communication. “There were three aspects we had to remain focused on. First, we had to ensure that all stakeholders were on the same page with respect to the congress’ logistics—no small feat considering how many people were involved.”

“Second, we wanted to heavily promote JCI Québec 2016 both locally and nationally to show how young people can significantly contribute to their communities.”

“And third, we needed to consistently address questions from delegates travelling from outside of North America about various aspects of visiting Canada: the visas, how to dress, local norms and customs, ability to be served in English, the possibility of snow…you name it,” reminisced Mr. Deschênes. “But all in all, the JCI Québec 2016 surpassed everybody’s expectations. It will definitely be a business event that is one for the books.”

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