Couchiching Connects: February 2013

In this Issue:

Mark Carney
The President's Message
The Big Picture
Summer Conference
Conversations and Roundtables
Members Meet-Up
Marketing and Communications

Breaking News - Mark Carney to be Honoured

The Couchiching Institute on Public Affairs is pleased to announce Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of Canada, as this year's recipient of the Couchiching Award for Public Policy Leadership. Established in 2004 to honour the accomplishments of Canadians who have demonstrated leadership and daring in public policy, the award recognizes exemplary actions taken by an individual to promote policy that has changed the face of Canada or a community within Canada, often in the face of public opposition. The Award will be presented to Mr. Carney at the second annual Couchiching Gala, The Big Picture, which takes place April 25 at Storys in Toronto.

The 2013 Award celebrates the singular leadership of Mark Carney in Canadian public policy as exemplified by his extraordinary ability to have steered Canada safely through the recent recession. He is, as Glen Hodgson of the Conference Board has called him, one of the "heroes of the recession." George Osborne has hailed him as "the outstanding central banker of his generation."

"Leadership is the courage to speak the truth, to start a dialogue, and to be open to criticism," notes Institute president, Rima Berns-McGown. As Roslynn Carter notably said: "A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don't necessarily want to go, but ought to be."



The President's Message - Rima Berns-McGown

Dear Couchiching Community:

It is our absolute delight to present the 2013 Couchiching Award on Public Policy Leadership to Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of Canada.

Our lead-up to the summer Conference has picked up pace, with Conversations and Roundtables on Indigenous-Canada relations across the country. February will see a Conversation on the context of Idle No More with Hayden King, which we are excited to hold at the Academy of the Impossible; a by-invitation Roundtable in Calgary with Indigenous, business, and political leaders, organized by Wenran Jiang; and the second in the series of Simcoe County Conversations, sponsored by Lakehead University in Orillia Ont., this one on Indigneous and Canadian approaches to governance.

And interest in the Conference is growing internationally. We met recently with a delegation from Australia who are putting together what they hope will be the largest world forum of Indigenous peoples to date. They are interested in our conference and our approach and looking to see where there might be opportunities for partnerships.

Finally, we hope very much to see as many of you as possible at The Big Picture. As you know, the year-round Conversations are all free events, and we subsidize the cost of attending the Conference and sponsor about 50 students and scholarship holders a year. the Gala is unabashedly a fundraising event for a great cause: narrative-changing and desperately needed Conversation, year-round, but especially at the Conference. Please come if you can, and encourage everyone you know to do the same.


The Big Picture 2013, April 25, 2013: Couchiching's Signature Fundraising Event

Leslie de Meulles, Co-Chair, Gala Committee

Meet Table Host Douglas Gibson: "The Evolution of Storytelling"

"I've been a sturdy supporter of Couchiching ever since August, 2001, when I appeared as a speaker about publishing and met a board member named Jane Bartram. We were married the next July. I've been on the Board ever since, participating in many fine and informative Conferences."

One of Canada's pre-eminent publishers, Douglas Gibson will discuss the evolution of publishing and storytelling in Canada - how new technologies are improving or potentially compromising the industry today. And he may just tell a few stories from his memoir, Stories about Storytellers. In it, he recounts stories from his distinguished 40-year career that saw him publish some of Canada's finest, including Allistair MacLeod, Alice Munro, Peter Gzowski, Robertson Davies, and Pierre Elliot Trudeau.

Since he came to Canada in 1967, armed with degrees from St. Andrews and from Yale, Doug has spent his career as a book editor and publisher. He established his first editorial imprint in Canada at McClelland & Stewart in 1985, and was the publisher at M & S (the Canadian Publisher in those days) until 2004, when he moved back to concentrate on his imprint, Douglas Gibson Books. He "retired" in 2008, at sixty-five. Stories about Storytellers describes  his work with authors he knew well, and is graced by an Introduction by Alice Munro. Since the book's publication in the fall of 2011, he has toured the country with a stage show of the same name, giving 35 performances from Halifax to Haida Gwaii.

Doug's memoir is available at good bookstores and online retailers (Cloth edition: ISBN 9878-1-77041-068-8/ePub: 978-177090-049-3). For more information, check out the website

Meet Table Host Olivia Chow: "NDP as Official Opposition"

In the most recent federal election, the New Democratic Party's Olivia Chow retained her seat in the downtown Toronto riding of Trinity-Spadina; she also saw her party win an unprecendented number of seats and became the Official Opposition for the first time in Canadian history. Ms. Chow will discuss how being the Official Opposition has affected the NDP caucus dynamics and policy and how this has affected the NDP's relationship to both the Conservative and Liberal Parties of Canada.

As the Official Opposition Critic for Transport and Infrastructure, Olivia is spearheading the push for a National Transit Strategy to get Canadians the 21st-century transit they deserve. At the same time, she is working to improve rail services for passengers and freight customers through initiatives like the Rail Customer Protection Act. Road and air safety are also focal points of her political work, pushing back against federal government inactivity and under-funding.

Olivia was previously Immigration Critic and held the government to account by working for a fairer, more transparent immigration system that keeps Canada's doors open for newcomers and refugees.

Olivia was also the Childcare Critic and advocated for a national childcare program and proper federal funding to tackle the lack of daycare spaces as her party's childcare and youth critic. She also introduced the Children's Health & Nutrition Initiative, which aims to provide healthy nutrition programs for all Canadians under the age of 18. Before she was elected to the House of Commons in 2006, the Hong Kong-born community activist served as a Toronto City councillor for three terms starting in 1991. She was elected after serving as the assistant to MP Dan Heap and working for refugee initiatives.


"Coming Together as One: Navigating the Relationship between Indigenous Peoples of Canada and Canadians"

Geneva Park, August 8-11, 2013

Conference Co-Chairs, Amanuel Melles and Leon Thompson

Conference Coordinator, Nicholas Constantine

In addition to the participation of Roberta Jamieson, president and CEO of Indspire, and the Right Honourable Paul Martin, former prime minister and founder of the Martin Aboriginal Initiative, Sheela McLean, author, University of Saskatchewan professor, and a co-founder of Idle No More, will be speaking at the Conference. She is one of a group of four women from Saskatchewan - the others are Nina Wilson, Sylvia McAdam, and Jessica Gordon - who launched the movement in November 2012, initially in response to federal legislation, the omnibus Bill C-45. Since then the movement has spread through social media and has become national and internation in scope. We look forward to hearing from Sheelah about further developments at our Conference.

Register now!

Readings and Viewings

For a complete list of Readings and Viewings, visit archives/2013-conference/readings-and-viewings


Conversations and Roundtables

Salim Rachid, Chair, Conversations and Roundtables

News about Conversations Held

January 10 Toronto Conversation: Shelina Kassam spoke to more than 70 attendees at the much-anticipated conversation on "Muslim Identity in Canadian Society". Organized by Conversations committee members Ahmer Khan, Kevin Asare, and Alex Corbeil, the event was a great success and the debate was as lively as Dr. Kassam's opening remark. Many thanks to Samara for hosting yet another great Couchiching Conversation.

January 29 Winnipeg Conversation: The Couchiching Winnipeg Conversations are going strong and the Institute was honoured to have Aboriginal singer and songwriterBuffy Sainte-Marie lead a Conversation on the Idle No More movement. This Conversation is part of a Canada-wide series of Aboriginal-related talks leading up to our summer Conference on Indigenous-Canada relations.

January 29 Barrie Conversation: The Couchiching Conversation in Barrie, Ont., was led by Dr. Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux and kick-started our Couchiching Aboriginal conversation series in the region. The Conversation focused on food as an essential element of life-governance and resilience. Dr. Wesley-Esquimaux is the Nexen Chair in Aboriginal Leadership at the Banff Centre.

News about Upcoming Conversations and Roundtables

February 13 Toronto Conversation: The Idle No More movement has captured the attention of people across the country and beyond and has elevated the Indigenous/non-Indigenous relationship to the main stage of public life in Canada. Where did the movement originate? What provoked the original protests? Why has it been so successful? What makes it distinctive from Indigenous mobilization of the past? Join our February 13 Couchiching Conversation with Hayden King, associate professor at Ryerson University's Politics and Public Administration Department and former senior policy advisor to the Ontario Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, from 6 to 8 p.m., at The Academy of the Impossible, 231 Wallace Avenue.

February 21 Vancouver Conversation: Join a Conversation on the Tobin Tax with Nichola Malim Hall, a recently retired program director with the University of British Columbia's Department of Continuing Studies. The Vancouver Conversations are held approximately every month (except during Christmas and the summer) over dinner in a small private dining room at the Water Street Café (corner of Water and Cambie Streets and across from the Steam Clock) from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. The Conversation leaders are from Couchiching's local group in Vancouver and topics are chosen by group members.

February 21 Calgary Roundtable: The First Couchiching Roundtable in Calgary will discuss "Asian Market Opportunities for Canada's First Nations" in partnership with the Canada-China Energy and Environment Forum. This Roundtable, to be hosted by board member Dr. Wenran Jiang, will explore how First Nations communities, different levels of governments, and the private sector can work together in taking advantage of the emerging markets in Asia and advancing the China Strategy developed by the First Nations in 2012. The Roundtable will take place from 2:30 to 5:00 p.m., with a reception to follow from 5:00 to 6 p.m., at Fifth Floor, global Business Centre, Calgary Economic Development, Telus Centre.

February 26 Simcoe County Conversation: The Simcoe County Couchiching Conversation Series presents "Indigenous and Canadian Approaches to Governance" on February 26 from 7 to 9 p.m. at Lakehead University, 500 University Drive, Orillia, Ont., map


Members Meet-Up Debuts

Couchiching's inaugural Members Meet-Up was a warm and wonderful success. It had all the ingredients of a quintessential Couchiching gathering: conviviality, lively conversation about stuff that matters, people from all walks of life (from students to deputy ministers to seasonsed journalists), and from every possible point on the Canadian political spectrum, folks who've been coming to Couch for decades, and others for whom this was a first Couch event. We look forward to many more Meet-Ups and to seeing you at one soon. - Rima Berns-McGown


Marketing and Communications

Chair Melanie Ching and Vice-Chair Sheila Robertson

The Marketing and Communications Committee held a productive meeting on Wednesday, February 6, 2013. Committee members include:

Chair, Marketing and Communications Committee - Melanie Ching (executive)

Vice-Chair, Media and Couchiching Connects - Sheila Robertson (board)

Chair, Marketing Subcommittee - open

Vice-Chair, Marketing Subcommittee - open

Chair, Social Subcommittee - Graham Pearson

Vice-chair, Social Subcommittee - Jacob Hrycak

Chair, Archives Subcommittee - Farah Saleem

Vice-Chair, Archives Subcommittee - open

Member, Alan Pearson
Member, Eranda Gjomena

If you are interested in becoming a member or filling one of the open positions, please email and we will be happy to add your name to the list!



Couchiching president Rima Berns-McGown has released a study with IRPP (the Institute for Research on Public Policy) - "'I am Canadian': Challenging Stereotypes about Young Somali Canadians," which you can download for free from IRPP's website: 
"I am Canadian": Challenging Stereotypes about Young Somali Canadians

Anne Golden, a host of The Big Picture in 2012 and a distinguished visiting scholar at Ryerson University, wrote in The National Post: "Supporters of bringing a casino to downtown Toronto typically cite economic and financial benefits, such as job creation, tourism, and revenue generated for government services. They also tend to minimize, or ignore, the negative social and environmental impacts on people and their quality of life. "
A casino in Toronto would do more harm than good


Opinions: Our Members Write...

Syrian Predictions 2013, Look North by Alexander Corbeil. In two previous posts, Alexander provided what he has come to believe are the most important events and aspects of the Syrian civil war to date. Bashar al-Assad's country is no more; it has been replaced by a parcelized system...

Read more

Alexander Corbeil is a senior Middle East Analyst with The Atlantic Council of Canada. He is a member of the Conversations and Roundtables Committee. Blog posts focus on Syria and Lebanon. Follow Alexander on Twitter @alex_corbeil

Salim Rachid's article entitled "Resetting the lens on the Arab Spring" was featured in the December 2012 issue of Canadian Government Executive.

Resetting the lens on the Arab Spring

The opinions were first presented at the 2012 Couchiching Summer Conference

Follow Salim on Twitter The Literary Review of Canada.

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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