Rima Berns-McGown, President of the Couchiching Institute

Rima Berns-McGown is the President of the Couchiching Institute on Public Affairs and the Institute's former chair of Outreach. She is Adjunct Professor of diaspora studies with the Department of Historical Studies at the University of Toronto at Mississauga where she focuses on the creation of socially just diverse societies.  She is the Senior Project Advisor and Research Director of the Mosaic Institute's study on the perception versus reality of imported conflict. As president of Couchiching, she has expanded the Couch community to include many more Canadians whose grandparents did not grow up listening to the summer conferences on the CBC.




The Rev. Dr. Karen Hamilton,  General Secretary  of the Canadian Council of Churches

The Rev. Dr. Karen Hamilton has held the position of General Secretary of the Canadian Council of Churches since 2002. The Council was founded in 1944 to coordinate the growing number of Canadian cooperative ventures in social services, religious education, and overseas mission. The Council communicates and cooperates with other national and regional councils around the world. It consists of 22 denominations across Canada and is the largest ecumenical body in the nation. It is registered with the United Nations and participates in world conferences and commissions on such issues as funding for development, refugee settlement and human rights. Dr. Hamilton represents the Council in Canada and around the world. She works for ecumenism, inter-faith dialogue and global justice. She is the recipient of the Ontario Heritage Day award for the Association of Progressive Muslims. In 2008, Novalis published her book entitled, The Acceptable Year of the Lord.



David McGown, VP Public Affairs, CIBC

David McGown is VP Public Affairs at CIBC and a former President of the Institute. He has worked at Queen’s Park and in Ottawa for the Department of Finance as an economist and as a senior assistant to the minister and the deputy minister. David has been Director of the Public Affairs Association of Canada and of several educational charities, and President of the Canadian Youth Foundation. He co-chaired Martha Hall Findlay's 2006 Liberal leadership bid and her elections as Member of Parliament for Willowdale. David has a bachelor's degree from Western and a master's degree from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.




Amanuel Melles, Co -Chair 82nd Annual Couchiching Conference

Amanuel Melles is the Chair of the 82nd Annual Couchiching Conference to be held in August 2013. He is a social entrepreneur and the former director of Organizational Capacity Building for the United Way Toronto. Originally from Eritrea, he headed the Department of Marine Biology and Fisheries at the University of Asmara and conducted research in Kenya, Mauritius, Saudi Arabia, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Italy. He was the 2002 recipient of the Jane Jacobs Prize, awarded to "unsung heroes" who have made Toronto a better place, and in 2001 received the Skills for Change Pioneers Award. Amanuel was also the founding president of the African Canadian Social Development Council and co-founded the Canadians for Peace & Development in Eritrea (CPDE), an organization advocating peace and respect for human rights in the context of war between Eritrea and Ethiopia.


Michael Morden, Research Associate the Mosaic Institute, PhD Candidate, University of Toronto

Michael Morden is a freelance writer and PhD candidate in Political Science at the University of Toronto. He is also a research associate on large-scale study of the perceptions and reality of "imported conflict", commissioned by Canada's Department of Public Safety.





Adam Redish, Chair of the Executive Committee, couop

Adam Redish is Chair of the Executive Committee of the Institute. He joined the board in 2010 and was the Vice Chair of the 2011 conference. When not focused on Couchiching issues, he works in the public sector where he has held a number of different positions in labour relations and, more recently, in the environment area. Adam holds a bachelor of arts degree in economics from McMaster University and a master's degree in industrial relations from the University of Toronto.





Bob Watts, Adjunct Professor, Fellow
, School of Policy Studies, Queen's University

Bob Watts current work includes working on the Siting Process with the Nuclear Waste Management Organization and as an Adjunct Professor and Fellow in the School of Policy Studies, Queen's University. He is a former CEO of the Assembly of First Nations and was the Interim executive director of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. A former federal assistant deputy minister, he is a graduate of the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, and Fellow at the Harvard Law School. Bob is of Mohawk and Ojibway ancestry and is a member of the Six Nations Reserve.





Douglas A. West, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, Orillia campus,  Lakehead University

Dr. Douglas A. West is an associate professor at the Department of Political Science, at the Orillia campus of Lakehead University. He is the editor of four books including: From Our Eyes: Learning from Indigenous Peoples (Garamond); and the author of 3 editions of the Instructor’s Manual for An Introduction to Government and Politics: A Conceptual Approach (Nelson) by M. O. Dickerson, Thomas Flanagan, and Brenda O'Neill. His writings and scholarly works have focused on Canadian Political Thought, Indigenous Political Ideas, Northern Politics and the Politics of Food. From 2006-2008, he served as Co-Director for the Food Security Research and Service Exchange Network, funded by the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation. Dr. West has served Lakehead University as a member of the Senate Teaching and Learning Committee, the Senate Research Committee, the Senate Nominations Committee and was Chair of the Senate Academic Committee in 2008-9. Dr. West is committed to developing Community Service Learning and Community Based Research at Lakehead and has served on many not-for-profit Boards in Thunder Bay, Ottawa and Victoria, BC. Currently, his research interests are focused on Community Food Sovereignty/Sustainability, Northern Food Policy and the Political Ideas of George Grant and Harold Innis.


Douglas Gibson

Born and raised in Scotland, Douglas Gibson came to Canada in 1967 with degrees from St. Andrews and Yale and soon entered the world of Canadian books. He was the publisher at McClelland & Stewart from 1988 to 2004 and established his own imprint, the first in Canada. His career is described in his memoir, Stories About Storytellers, published in the fall of 2011. He has been a member of the board since 2002. Doug met his wife, Jane Brenneman Gibson, at the Couchiching  conference in 2001, when she was a board member and he was a visiting speaker. He approves of Couchiching.



2016 Summer Conference

The Canada Project

Identity, Citizenship, and Nationhood in a Changing World

August 5-7, 2016
The YMCA Geneva Park Conference Centre, Orillia, ON

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Couchiching Connects
April 2017
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YMCA Geneva Park

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