Couchiching Connects: February 2015

In this Issue:

Couch News

The President's Message

2015 Gala

The 2015 Summer Conference



Couch Community News


Members on the Move

Alumni in the News


Calling All Readers!


News Flash!

Hon. William G. Davis, PC, CC, QC, has been selected as the 13th recipient of the prestigious Couchiching Award for Public Policy Leadership. The award will be presented on April 13th at the Couchiching Gala 2015 in Toronto. Click here for a synopsis of Mr. Davis’ illustrious career.

A Message from the President Adam Redish

In my update a month ago, I noted that the Institute is active on many fronts; an understatement if ever there was one. Be it the Summer Conference, the 2015 Gala, or the Conversations, we have had a very busy start to the year.

For me, the January highlight was wrapping up the Public Policy Award selection process with the announcement of Hon. William G. Davis as the recipient of this year’s award.

And while it may be a cold February night as I write this, I am warmed by the thought of the delightful evening we are going to have on April 13th at the annual Gala with Mr. Davis and our Honorary Chair, Hon. David Peterson — two former Premiers at one venue! It promises to be an evening of excitement and engagement!

We also had an excellent Conversation with Samra Zafar on January 29th — what an inspirational story — and, as you will see from Ahmer Khan's update below, more Conversations are on the way.

Watch for the March issue of Couchiching Connects, which will feature an update on Gala table hosts and the full program outline for the Summer Conference along with information on next steps with the strategic plan.

The Couchiching Gala 2015: The Institute's Signature Toronto Event, April 13th
Chair, Public Policy and Gala Committees,
Vasiliki (Vass) Bednar

Are you ready for a stimulating evening engrossed in discussion with bright Toronto thought leaders and provocateurs? Celebrate leadership in public policy and bold thinking at Archeo on April 13th and add your voice to a civil place to disagree. The March issue of Couchiching Connects will feature a full update.

A highlight of the Gala will be the presentation of the 13th Annual Couchiching Award for Public Policy Leadership, sponsored by Scotiabank, to Hon. William G. Davis.

Registration will open soon!

The 2015 Summer Conference
Are We Failing Our Future? Time for a New Deal between Generations
August 7th to 9th, 2015
Conference Co-Chairs, Heather Keachie and Helen Tewolde

Mark August 7 to 9th, 2015 on your calendars and join us at the lake for a discussion of the generation(s)!

To spark your interest and prepare your discussion points, we have identified two more reviews of materials of interest on the topic of intergenerational equity. In the meantime, watch for the March issue of Couchiching Connects for a detailed Summer Conference outline and an update on our speakers. See “Recommended Readings” below for the reviews.

To submit a review of an article on intergenerational equity, please email the Conference Co-chairs.

"Are We Failing Our Future? Time for a New Deal between Generations"
By Karen Hamilton and Ross Anderson

This day of writing is February 2nd, Groundhog Day, and the word from those bastions of scientific empiricism, the groundhogs, is ambiguous. Shadows have been both seen and not seen. Is it six more weeks of winter or is it not? Regardless of the amount of ice and snow we may or may not have before us, the Gala, the Conversations and the Summer Conference dates all approach. The winner of the Public Policy Award for the Gala is announced elsewhere in this issue, the Conversations continue their vibrancy and relevance, and the Summer Conference planning not only proceeds apace, but is further strengthened by the number of articles on the topic that are appearing in a wide variety of media. The issues of intergenerational transfers are extremely timely.

The fund-raising for the full range of our Couchiching identity and unique place in Canadian society also proceeds. We have made significant progress in attaining what is needed to be ‘a civil place to disagree’, but we have a significant way to go. Please consider, right now, a donation to our timely and future-focused Institute in all its essential facets. Please give us your wisdom on whom else to approach. The next six weeks are a crucial time for our fund-raising strategy.

With much appreciation for your commitment to dialogue … Karen and Ross

Couchiching Conversations
Chair, Conversations, Ahmer Khan

The Conversation Committee continues to develop stimulating and provocative Conversations as we move into the full Couchiching season.

On January 29th: Samra Zafar presented a Conversation on “Coming Forward: Harassment, Abuse, and the Path to Empowerment” at the Toronto Bahά’i Centre. Samra is the founder of Brave Beginnings, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping women find support for their hidden pain and empower them to break free from abuse. Click here for an overview of Samra’s presentation.

Upcoming Conversations

February 26th: Join Sean Twyford for a Conversation entitled “Reflections on Youth Participation in Society: Stepping up for the Next Generation” at the Toronto Bahά’i Centre, 288 Bloor Street West, 6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.

Click here for details about Sean.

March 19th: Yossi Sapirman, the senior rabbi at Beth Torah Congregation in North York, Ont., will speak at a Conversation entitled “Intergenerational Judaism: Social justice and Governance in Canada.” Watch this space for venue details in the March issue of Couchiching Connects. Click here for details about Rabbi Yossi.

Contact Ahmer Khan (@ahmercankhan) to share Conversation ideas. Visit for upcoming Conversations, series, and news.


Power and Influence, Winter, 2015: In an article entitled “Inside Earnscliffe Strategy Group, writer Mark Burgess described board member Velma McColl as one of the firm’s “next-generation leaders.”

Read more

Members on the Move

Board member Helen Tewolde has won a 2015 Toronto Foundation Vital People award. The award will support her attending Stanford Business School’s Executive Program for Non-Profit Leaders and the second bi-annual World Congress on Access to Post-Secondary Education in Malaysia.

Read more

More about Hon. William G. Davis, P.C., C.C., OC

A highlight of the 2015 Gala will be the presentation of the Couchiching Award for Public Policy Leadership to Hon. William Davis.

Mr. Davis was the Premier of Ontario from 1971 to 1985. Once in office, he immediately set his own style through a complete reorganization of government structures, using the administrative skills and thorough knowledge of government acquired during 12 years as a Minister of the Crown.

First elected in 1959, he was appointed Education Minister in 1962 and added the University Affairs portfolio two years later. His wide‑ranging accomplishments in education include the creation of Ontario's Institute for Studies in Education and the establishment of Ontario's widely respected community college system. During his Premiership, social services were greatly expanded, the process of government was reorganized and streamlined, and technological initiatives, the key to Ontario's future prosperity, were fostered. During the early 1980s, he initiated centres dealing with robotics, biotechnology, and computer applications to manufacturing.

A proud Canadian and a dedicated federalist, Mr. Davis is rightfully proud of the role he played in negotiating Canada's constitutional accord. His statesmanlike approach did much to promote the spirit of compromise that made the agreement possible.

Following his retirement as Premier, Mr. Davis served as Canada's Special Envoy on Acid Rain and worked with his American counterpart to produce a report that represented significant progress on this important environmental issue.

Invested as a Companion of the Order of Canada in 1986, Mr. Davis was among the first of 20 citizens to be honoured with an investiture in The Order of Ontario in 1987. In 2001, he was inducted as a Knight in l’Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur. He has been awarded Honorary Degrees by a dozen Ontario universities, as well as the Yeshiva University of New York, the National University of Ireland, and the University of Tel Aviv.

This 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.

For more about the Award and past recipients

The Couchiching Gala 2015

Alumni in the News

The Globe and Mail, February 9th: Former prime minister Paul Martin contributed to newspaper’s series, “Rich Country, Poor Nations”, writing: “When it comes to the reality of indigenous life in Canada, no issue can be deemed the most important. But if I were to single out one action that has too long been ignored, it would be to repair the mistake that was made by colonial governments who, believing that native culture had no value, assumed its people had nothing to say.” He was a speaker at the 2013 Summer Conference, “Coming Together as One: Navigating the Relationship Between Indigenous People and Canada” ( ).

Read more

Maclean’s, February 16th: In an article entitled “Taking a stand” discussing Winnipeg’s plans to fight racism by writer Nancy MacDonald, Ovide Mercredi said: “I have personally experienced racism, and it not something that I wish upon anyone at any time in their journey.” The former national chief of the Assembly of First Nations was a speaker at the 2011 Summer Conference, “From the Ground up: Civic Engagement in Our Time”
( At a gathering of Winnipeg’s “indigenous leadership and civic leaders of all political stripes,” Michael Redhead Champagne, a speaker at the 2013 Summer Conference, Shamattawa Cree Nation, and founder of Aboriginal Youth Opportunities in Winnipeg, “led a smudge ... explaining its importance to city staff, councillors, and business leaders who’d never smudged before.”

Read more

Maclean’s, February 2nd: Michael Redhead Champagne was mentioned in the article, “Welcome to Winnipeg Where Canada’s Racism Problem is at its Worst”. Writer Nancy NacDonald described Michael as “a dynamic, 27-year-ol TED Talk veteran ... like the Pied Piper of the neighbourhood, empowering a generation of indigenous kids.”

Read more:, page 24

The Globe and Mail, January 26th: In a column entitled “Diversity our strength (someone tell the bigots)”, Elizabeth Renzetti profiled Summer Conference delegate Munira Akubar: “Ms. Abukar, a 22-year-old spitfire you’ll definitely be seeing more of on the public stage, talked about how 200 of her campaign signs were stolen, and others were defaced with the words “go home.” Home, as the Somali-Canadian pointed out, is Etobicoke, a western suburb of Toronto that is the stronghold of the Ford brothers, Doug and Rob, whose poisonous influence on municipal politics leaked like acid through this campaign.”

Read more

The Globe and Mail, January 16th: Tom Flanagan wrote: “The First Nations Fiscal Transparency Act (FNFTA), which came into effect last year, requires each First Nation to publish the compensation paid to chief and council.” He is professor emeritus of political science and distinguished fellow at the School of Public Policy, University of Calgary, and was a speaker at the 2010 Summer Conference, “Watershed Moment or Wasted Opportunity”,

Read more

Conference Readings

Sawhill, Isabel, Generation Unbound: Drifting into sex and parenthood without marriage, Brookings Institution Press, D.C., 2014. Reviewed by board member Ed Moran.

Isabel Sawhill argues that differences in family structure are contributing to the growing gap between the rich, the poor, and even — the MIDDLE CLASS.

In the United States, while elites are likely to follow a plan of education, work, marriage, children — more than 50% of children born to women under 30 are unplanned. Though Sawhill is sympathetic to the arguments of both the “village builders” and the “traditionalists” on how to help bridge the gap and ensure children flourish, she ultimately finds both approaches lacking and so uses the tools of behavioural economics to suggest a possible way forward.

Admitting to a “soft-paternalism” Sawhill suggests that helping more people act, as “Planners” rather than “Drifters” would result in greater equality. To that end, and noting that “intentionality and readiness go hand in hand”, she argues for the greater availability of long-acting, reversible forms of contraception (LARCs) and for providing young people the motivation to delay having children until they are ready and able to care for them.

The Economist, "An hereditary meritocracy", January 24, 2015. Available online at Reviewed by board member Patrick Quealey.

On January 24th, the Economist published an article subtitled “The children of the rich and powerful are increasingly well suited to earning wealth and power themselves. That’s a problem”. The article focuses on the fact that in the United States, the ability to achieve success is becoming increasingly dependent on whether you are born into a well-educated and wealthy family rather than by hard work and ambition. While to some degree this has always been the case, it appears that the likelihood of remaining in the social class you were raised in, regardless of best efforts, is becoming increasingly likely. The lack of movement between social class at an intergenerational scale is comparable to the growing income gap between lower and higher income earners. Of particular interest is that while those born into educated and wealthy families tend to remain in that social class themselves, unlike historical intergenerational ‘family success’, at no point in history do the children of educated and wealthy people seem to also earn the status through merit and hard earned qualifications. “Old money”, as it were, has given way to an intergenerational commitment to educational and professional excellence.

As the article notes, “Lauren Rivera of Kellogg School of Management interviewed 120 people charged with hiring in top earning sectors for a forthcoming book. She found that although they did not set out to recruit students from wealthy backgrounds, the companies had a penchant for graduates who had been to well-known universities and played varsity sports. The result was a graduate intake that included people with skin of every shade, but rarely anyone with parents who worked blue-collar jobs.” The article of course notes the growing concern about the “self-perpetuation” of an American elite, but a reluctance, at least in the United States, to use government as a “leveller”.

On the Conversations

Samra continued ...

Samra was welcomed by an audience of about 30 people who braved the snow storm. The Conversation began with her personal story of abuse and her understanding that being subjected to it was not her fault. We learned that one in three women in Canada have reported being a victim of abuse. Samra made the point that these numbers do not include the unreported cases, explaining that most women who do not report abuse or harassment are silent because of shame or fear. She recommended changes to current policies that would introduce a more humane approach to counselling as opposed to a scripted response. Samra and the audience then discussed the many forms of abuse and their solutions on a personal and policy level.

The audience agreed that more needs to be more done to accommodate women who have been through abuse, including a platform for justice, but also accommodation in the professional work force. There was consensus that more resources need to be invested in counselling and that there needs to be a space for stories of abuse to be heard for what they are and not in the form of media hype.

Sean continued ...

Sean has worked at the Ministry of Children and Youth Services since 2004 and is currently Project Director of the Youth Strategies Branch. His branch supports diverse policy and planning initiatives across the ministry, including the cross-ministerial collaboration to create Stepping Up: A Strategic Framework to Help Ontario’s Youth Succeed. Sean led the cross-ministerial Ontario’s Youth Action Plan, the development of Stepping Stones: A Resource on Youth Development, and was the provincial policy lead for the Ontario Child Benefit program and the Youth Opportunities Strategy.

Rabbi Yossi continued ...

The Globe and Mail has described the Conservative Judaism-affiliated synagogue as “The ‘it’ Shul” … and a “Shul that rocks”. Rabbi Yossi has transformed Beth Torah into a hub of dynamic and progressive Judaism. His approach is founded on the principle that “the most modern Judaism is the one that makes Tradition relevant”, a philosophy that empowers individuals to embrace the Jewish narrative and contribute to the experience by applying traditional Jewish values to everyday life. He was awarded the Rabbi Kelman Humanitarian Award in recognition of his inclusive and empathetic leadership.

Calling All Readers of Couchiching Connects!

Please send information on Newsmakers, Members on the Move, 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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