Blog | April 07, 2017

Public Interest Alberta's 11th annual conference has come to an end.  Thank you to all volunteers, speakers, moderators, facilitators, note-takers, and participants for making this year's conference a success!  In this post-conference wrap-up blog, photos, videos, and resources from the conference are available below.


Thursday, March 30

For this year's annual conference, BOLD Advocacy for BIG Changes, we tried a new format for panels and introduced a pre-conference training.  The pre-conference advocacy training, featuring Public Interest Alberta Executive Director Joel French, former MLA Jim Gurnett, Friends of Medicare's Sandra Azocar and Trevor Zimmerman, and IBEW Local 424's Scott Crichton.  Presenters went through our new MLA Advocacy Guide and shared their own knowledge and experience in advocating on wide variety of issues.  They took questions from the audience and even found time for a picture!

The Thursday evening keynote address by Erika Shaker was a big hit, with Erika speaking on everything from student debt to government revenues. Erika is the Director of Education and Outreach at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and the editor of Our Schools / Our Selves, a quarterly education journal.

Watch the full keynote presentation

Friday, March 31

Day two of the conference opened with campaign updates from Public Interest Alberta Executive Director Joel French, and updates from three of the presenters from last year's conference.  First, Colleen Huston and Brad Robertson from the Disability Action Hall shared their insights in a short video which we encourage you to check out!  Next up was Line Perron, founder and  Director of Early Childhood Development Support Services who gave an update on what child care and early learning have looked like in the province and across the country since last year.  

The first panel of the day was Health care: effective advocacy for big changes with Parkland Institute Research Director Ian Hussey, the Canadian Health Coalition's National Coordinator Adrienne Silnicki, and moderated by Friends of Medicare Executive Director Sandra Azocar. 

Watch Health care: effective advocacy for big changes

Next, we heard from Edmonton Public School Trustee and former Board Chair Michael Janz, Saskatoon City Councillor for Ward 2 Hilary Gough on the panel Advocacy that makes a difference: perspectives from elected officials.  The panel was moderated by former Edmonton City Councillor, LGBTQ advocate, Chair of the University of Alberta Board of Governors, and longtime local advocate Michael Phair.   

Watch Advocacy that makes a difference: perspectives from elected officials

After lunch, conference attendees heard from United Nurses of Alberta Communications Advisor David Climenhaga and public commentator and AUPE Communications Officer, Mariam Ibrahim on the panel The end of news? Media in the age of fake news and alternative facts.  This panel was moderated by storyteller and people weaver, Chris Chang-Yen Phillips, who currently serves as Edmonton’s Historian Laureate.

Watch The end of news? Media in the age of fake news and alternative facts

Next, participants split up into Priorities for Change workshops where they discussed issues, current events, and opportunities for change in each of Public Interest Alberta’s seven action areas:

  • Education
  • Democracy
  • Post-secondary education
  • Seniors
  • Human services and poverty
  • Child care and early learning
  • Environment

The feedback, suggestions, and comments from these workshops will guide Public Interest Alberta’s work as we create the 2017 Priorities for Change document which is an updated version of our 2015 Priorities for Change.

The final panel of the day was Frontlines and headlines: community organizing for change with community organizer Reakash Walters and Camp fYrefly Program Coordinator Claire Edwards.  The panel was moderated by Council of Canadians Prairies-NWT Organizer Diane Connors.  

Watch Frontlines and headlines: community organizing for change

After a jam-packed Thursday afternoon and Friday full day, we appreciate everyone’s enthusiasm during all of our panels and workshops.  Thank you to participants for the great questions and to all speakers, moderators, workshop facilitators and note-takers!  Public Interest Alberta would also like to thank this year’s conference sponsors and the conference planning committee who worked for months to make this year’s conference as great as it was. 

See you next year!