Migrations: Un monde en devenir/A world in the making, the last Conference sponsored by the Jeanne Sauvé Youth Foundation, was held at Bishop's College (Lennoxville, Quebec) in 1996.
The world was changing. Not only were an increasing number of international conferences for young people being held all over the world, but it was obvious that the new phenomenon of the Internet would quickly enable global exchanges amongst the younger generation. The attendees at the Sauvé conferences were affected only momentarily before moving on to the next conference and thus the mission of the Foundation to develop promising youth from around the world into tomorrow's leaders was not being accomplished. A new concept was required – one that would exert a more direct and lasting influence on a select number of emerging leaders.
During the next years, the Sauvés and Sonny Gordon considered many alternatives, including one that was Internet-based. Finally, they turned to Harry Parnass, a Montreal architect, urban designer and professor of Architecture whose background included studies at the Harvard Business School and Kennedy School of Government. In 30 days Harry sketched out the concept - loosely modelled on the Harvard University Neiman Fellowships and the Journalism Fellows of the University of Michigan - that would become the Sauvé Scholars Program. The academic home for the Program would be McGill, the Montreal university with the most extensive international reputation and the largest body of international students.
A differentiating aspect of the Program was that the Foundation should own a residence where the Scholars would live and learn from one another. After an exhaustive search of the area within easy walking distance of McGill, the building at 1514 Doctor Penfield was purchased in late 2002. Harry supervised the building's restoration and worked with the Sauvés, Sonny Gordon and the late James Wright, the Executive Director, on refining every aspect of the Program. The first cohort of Scholars arrived in August of 2003.
Harry Parnass, who became the Founding President of the Program, says about that period "the time-span from the approval of my project conception, including finding, buying and rebuilding the House, with all the permits involved, getting McGill's partnership affirmed, designing and writing the [first] website, getting the word out and recruiting the Scholars worldwide, furnishing the house down to the linens, cutlery and woks, stocking the kitchen with appropriate food for the first days, answering anxious mothers' last-minute questions by phone, and….finally receiving [the first 12 Scholars] at the door (many were picked up by Jim Wright at the airport) was…....eleven months!"