Kevin Bourne, BA’07 Political Science

When asked what his proudest moment is, Kevin Bourne has a lot to choose from. There’s interviewing Kevin Hart. Hosting on national radio with CBC Music. Working his first red carpet as a journalist during the 2017 Junos. And of course, getting to be part of his first press junket for a major movie.

“Looking around and seeing all the biggest entertainment reporters in Canada, from the biggest media platforms in Canada, and establishing myself as one of their peers was special,” says Kevin. “Knowing that I was able to build a media platform that put me in the company of those people…that was a ‘pinch me’ moment.”

After graduating with his BA in Political Science in 2007, he moved to Ottawa with the dream of working on Parliament Hill. He quickly landed an internship with an MP in the House of Commons and eventually scored a full-time Communications and Policy role with a Senator. While working in Ottawa, he noticed the lack of cultural media in the city, so he decided to start a media outlet while volunteering at Rogers TV to learn more about television. That turned into writing and blogging for different outlets. When his role at the Senate came to an end, he decided to dive into being a journalist and an entrepreneur full time by starting SHIFTER Agency and SHIFTER Magazine. Today, he splits his time between Ottawa and Toronto attending music industry events and movie screenings.

“It took time to make money in media, but a lot of the skills were transferable to agency work. I was getting my team members on all the media outlets and realized I was doing PR. So I coupled that experience with my communications experience from the Hill and launched our agency.”

What made this pivot successful was Kevin was able to identify the common thread in all of his work: storytelling. Whether it was crafting messaging from politicians or writing stories about the local music scene, Kevin understood that it all came down to storytelling and communicating an idea.

This storytelling ability is used for more than just his entrepreneurial pursuits. In addition to teaching TV Broadcasting at Algonquin College, Kevin uses his experience in journalism, digital media, and messaging, to make change in his community.

“I love telling the stories of people whose stories would never be told. After George Floyd was murdered, I came out with an Outstanding Black Men in Canada list that got me recognized by Ottawa Life Magazine as one of the top changemakers in the city. A lot of people see Black men as violent or dangerous, so I told the stories of Black men who were having an impact at home, at work, and in the community. It’s about changing the narrative. That’s what storytelling allows you to do. I’ve seen decision makers in Ottawa make changes because of my articles. That’s rewarding.”

Rapid fire questions

Who or what inspires you?

My late father, my mother, my sister, my wife and kids, my faith, history, cities, great leaders, visionaries, thinkers, and successful people – Drake, Kanye West, Jay-Z, Kenya Barris, Lebron James, Jean Drapeau, Barack Obama, Jesus Christ, Richard Branson.

What would you like to say to your younger self?

Don’t worry about fitting in. You feel awkward fitting in because you’re supposed to lead. Second, spend more time with our father and tell him how you feel. Also, there’s these things called “Tesla” and “cryptocurrency” coming. You might want to put some money in those.

What is the most powerful lesson you’ve learned in your life? How did you learn it?

I have it tattooed on my arm – “All things are possible to him who believes.” A lot of what I accomplished so far in my business and career came about because I challenged what was possible, whether as a Black person or living in a smaller city like Ottawa. A lot of the things I’ve done people said weren’t possible.

What is your favourite city in the world?

Don’t tell Ottawa, but Toronto is my favourite city in the world. It’s the place where I feel the most comfortable and the most myself. Living outside of Toronto has made me appreciate it more – family, friends, the tall buildings, culture, attractions, opportunities and energy.


Neya Abdi, BA’16 International Studies
Published in February 2022