Couchiching Connects: December 2014


In this Issue:

Couch News

The President's Message

The 2015 Summer Conference

Call for Action - Fundraising

2015 Gala

2015 Public Policy Award


Strategic Planning Update

Couch Community News

Alumni in the News

Calling All Readers!

A Message from the President Adam Redish

Two weeks ago, Amanuel Melles advised the Board of Directors that he was stepping down as president of the Institute for personal reasons.

I am confident that I speak for the entire Couchiching community when I wish Amanuel and his family well. I also want to express my thanks, on behalf of the Institute, for his contributions as president over the past 18 months as well as his leadership on other initiatives with the Institute particularly as co-chair of the 2014 Summer Conference, “Coming Together as One: Navigating the Relationship Between Indigenous Peoples and Canada". I would also like to express our collective thanks for his leadership on the strategic planning initiative and very much look forward to working with him when he is able to re-engage with the Institute.

At the December 9th Board meeting, I was asked to take on the President's role until August 2015, and have agreed to do so.

These are exciting times at the Institute. We are hard at work on developing our new strategic plan, focused on expanding our outreach, establishing new modes of dialogue, and strengthening our relationship with funders. We are also moving forward with our usual exciting and dynamic program offerings, including what is shaping up to be a thought-provoking and engaging upcoming Summer Conference and a new series of Conversations that builds on the Conference theme and explores key public affairs issues.

I am particular excited to announce April 13th as the date of the 2015 Couchiching Gala. Get that date in your calendars now - it sells out fast and is an event not to be missed!

We are also opening nominations for the Couchiching Award for Leadership in Public Policy. See below for the update from Vass Bednar on the Gala and Award. The Award nominations form is posted on the website. I encourage all readers of Couchiching Connects to think about an inspiring Canadian policy leader!

I would note that for many this is also a season for giving. Please consider including the Institute on your gift list; you'll be just in time for a 2014 tax receipt. You can make your donation online.

And finally, on behalf the Institute, I wish you all a very safe and happy holiday season and all the best for 2015!

The 2015 Summer Conference
In Fairness To The Future: Who owes what to whom?
Financial, environmental, and institutional transfers between generations
August 7th to 9th, 2015
Conference Co-Chairs, Heather Keachie and Helen Tewolde

The Conference Committee met in November to discuss our "dream team" speaker list for the Summer Conference as well as to make some decisions about the opening and closing keynotes. The committee is currently working on an interesting mix of formal panels, discussion groups, presentations, and other new forms of participant engagement, carefully crafted to foster creative interaction between generations. We also held a brainstorming session in Toronto and Ottawa, which were well attended by past Conference speakers and attendees, all of whom offered good suggestions for the upcoming Summer Conference.

Relevant Readings

"The Bank of Mom and Dad: confessions of a propped up generation", Toronto Life, November 2014.

An Interview with Paul Kershaw on public policy & intergenerational equity

Economist, The Daily Chart: The End of the Population Pyramid, November 18, 2014. Online at

Malcolm, Candice (Director, Canadian Taxpayers Federation), "When it Comes to Finances, Gen Y Should Be Called 'Gen Screwed'," The Huffington Post, November 20, 2014. Available online at

Schraad-Tischler, Daniel and Najim Azahaf (Eds), "Intergenerational Justice in Aging Societies: A Cross-national Comparison of 29 OECD Countries," Bertelsmann Stiftung. Online at:


Participate! "In Fairness to the Future: Who owes what to whom? Financial, environmental and cultural transfer between generations"
By Karen Hamilton and Ross Anderson

Participation has so many rewards!

As momentum builds towards the 2015 Summer Conference, as you enthusiastically mark the dates (August 7-9) in your datebooks, electronic and otherwise, as you start to think about registration and who you are going to invite to join us at the lake, please think about active participation on another level.

As is the case with all discussions of depth and significance, financial support is required in order to make the annual Summer Conference happen. Although costs are kept to a minimum, registrations cannot cover them all. Consider whom you will approach - corporations, insurance companies, businesses and/or foundations to participate in increasing awareness, understanding, and knowledge of domestic and international issues amongst people in Canada through open and inclusive discussion. That is conversation, that is democracy, and that is Couchiching.

We would love to hear your ideas for outreach and networking possibilities.


The Couchiching Gala 2015: The Institute's Signature Fundraising Event
Chair, Public Policy and Gala Committees,
Vasiliki (Vass) Bednar

Save the Date: Monday, April 13, 2015, Archeo, 31 Trinity Street, Toronto (the Distillery District)

The annual Gala brings the spirit of the storied Couchiching Summer Conference to downtown Toronto, emphasizing small, intense discussions. Tables are limited to eight people, each led by a prominent individual known for posing tough questions or provoking change. The Gala offers individuals a rare opportunity to engage in lively, wide-ranging discussions on issues that matter. In the weeks to come, we will be announcing the Gala Chair and table hosts.


2014 Couchiching Award for Public Policy Leadership

The Institute is pleased to announce that the annual Award for Public Policy Leadership will be awarded at the 2015 Gala.

The Award honours the accomplishments of a Canadian who has demonstrated bold leadership in public policy and recognizes exemplary actions taken by an individual to formulate and implement policy that has had a positive impact on Canada or a community within Canada. Past recipients include Jane Jacobs, Henry Morgentaler, Lincoln Alexander, Stéphane Dion, David Dodge, Elizabeth May, Mark Carney, and Phil Fontaine.

Click here to more about the award: Click here to learn more about the Award

Watch Couchiching Connects for more details on the Public Policy Leadership Award winner and the Gala. Mark your calendars today and save the date for 2015 Gala. We look forward to thinking with you there.


Couchiching Conversations
Ahmer Khan, Chair Conversations

I would like to begin by mentioning that my thoughts go out to Amanuel. You are dearly missed and I wish you the best.

We have a busy and exciting month ahead of us for January.

January 7th: Join us for a Conversation entitled "On the Art of Being Uncomfortable: Good Ally-ship, from Toronto to Ferguson" with Taiwo Bah, MaRS Fellowship recipient, Couchiching alumnus, and community advocate.

So you want to fight racism and you're not black. What does it mean to be a good ally? How do you understand someone else's road if you haven't walked it yourself? Wow - you help fight for a truly inclusive society that works for everyone who lives in it? This challenging and timely Conversation will begin at 6:00 p.m. at Samara, 33 Prince Arthur Avenue.

Click here to register (Limited seating is available).

Read more about the fellowship

January 29th: A Conversation on "Coming forward: Harassment, Abuse and the Path to Empowerment" will take place with John Moss Award recipient Samra Zafar. This Conversation will discuss the challenges of coming forward as an abuse victim and survivor, the healing processes, and potential policy/social solutions.

Read more about the scholarship

Later in the spring, our intergenerational series will begin with

Sean Tywford on youth empowerment. He is the Project Director, Youth Strategies Branch, Strategic Policy and Planning Division,

Ministry of Children and Youth Services. Yossi Sapirman, the senior rabbi at Beth Torah Congregation in North York, will speak in a Conversation entitled "Intergenerational Judaism: Social justice and governance in Canada."

Stay tuned for more updates, venue locations, and e-blasts. Please contact Ahmer Khan (@ahmercankhan) if you have Conversation ideas you would like to see come to fruition. Happy holidays and a great new year! See you on January 7th. Visit for upcoming Conversations, series, and other exciting news.

Strategic Planning Process: An Update
By Adam Redish

At its meeting on December 9th, the Board further considered our new Strategic Plan. Key amongst the elements of the Plan as we move forward are

  • better linking the themes of the Summer Conference to the Conversations series.
  • incorporating new approaches to fundraising, including approaching potential new funders and strengthening our relationship with our current funders.
  • creating new modes for conversation, be it through social media, expanding the reach of Conversations, or pursuing alternate means to drive public engagement on key public issues across the country.
  • considering the development of strategic foci that will guide the Institute's thinking and programming over the next few years.


At both the October retreat and again on December 9th, the Board had an opportunity to think about the fundamental tenets of the Institute: who we are, what we do, and perhaps most important of all, why what we do matters. We believe that the kind of diverse, thoughtful, and challenging dialogue that Couchiching fosters, across all its programs and involving a broad range of Canadians from all walks of life, is fundamental to Canadian democracy. It is this belief that underpins our efforts to expand our outreach to a broader audience, to deepen the engagement in important public issues across Canada - one great conversation at a time.

Stay tuned for regular updates on how we are moving forward to implement this new and exciting vision.

Couchiching Alumni in the News

Ottawa Citizen, December 9th: In an Opinion piece, Jodi Bruhn wrote: "We need to talk. We've heard it from First Nations leaders and former prime ministers, from academics, novelists and public intellectuals. If we're finally to move from conflict to cooperation, non-Aboriginal Canadians need to enter into a deep, difficult dialogue with Aboriginal peoples."A former federal public servant with Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, she is director of Stratéjuste Canada, a consulting firm specializing in indigenous/Crown relations, and has attended Summer Conferences.

Read more

Reuters, December 2nd: Former International Olympic Committee vice president Dick Pound "is confident the IOC will drop regulations limiting the number of sports on the Games programme and says squash should be brought into the Olympic fold." He was a speaker at the 2014 Summer Conference, "More than a Games: The Politics and Potential of Sport"

Read more

The Globe and Mail, November 29th: Nathalie Des Rosiers was inducted into the Royal Society of Canada and its College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists, the highest honour for scholars in Canada. She was a speaker at the 2011 Summer Conference,"From the Ground Up: Civic Engagement in our Time". Her citation read: "Nathalie Des Rosiers is internationally acclaimed as a preeminent constitutional law expert, whose research has profoundly transformed the areas of sexual and spousal abuse, rights of minorities, and civil liberties. A leading public intellectual, she has served as a "conscience'' of our community and is one of the most eloquent and persuasive champions of bilingualism and the preservation of the French language in Canadian law and society."

Read more

Corporate Knights, November 21st: Dick Pound, "a Canadian Olympian-turned-lawyer received the second annual Scotiabank Ethical Leadership Award for his role in the fight against doping in international sport."

Read more


Calling All Readers of Couchiching Connects!

Please send information on Newsmakers, Couchiching Alumni in the News, and Opinions: Our Members Write ... to Sheila Robertson, Editor, Couchiching Connects.

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

Read More


Couchiching Connects
April 2017
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