Couchiching Connects: February 2016

In this Issue:

Couch News

President's Message

Couchiching Gala 2016

2016 Summer Conference


Couch Community News


Alumni on the Move


Alumni/Members in the News

Books of Note

Calling All Readers!

News Flash! Get Your Gala Tickets Now!

The President's Message
Adam Redish

Bought my Gala ticket today! I am very excited about this year’s Gala and the brilliant group of table hosts committee chair Vass Bednar has put together.

I was pondering who’s table I might like to be at – so many dynamic and thoughtful individuals that I was having more than a little trouble making up my mind. Then I remembered: I don’t have to decide! One of the benefits of being President is that I get the pleasure of being at the table with Anne Golden as recipient of this year’s Couchiching Award for Public Policy Leadership.

It has been a banner few weeks at the Institute. Not only has Vass landed all the table hosts (see her update below), the Summer Conference co-chairs are building a great lineup of speakers as co-chair Armine Yalnizyan’s write-up below suggests.

It’s a dark and chilly February night as I write this, but with the Gala coming up quickly and the Summer Conference not that far away, I can feel the thaw of spring a-coming … Stay warm and I look forward to seeing many of you at Gala, if not before.


The Couchiching Gala 2016: The Institute’s Signature Toronto Event
Couchiching Award for Public Policy Leadership

April 11th, Great Hall, Hart House, University of Toronto
Chair, Public Policy Award and Gala Committees, Vasiliki (Vass) Bednar

Join us on April 11th for an evening of stimulating conversation with table hosts from every corner of public policy including journalists, policy writers, grassroots organizers, and more. Your attendance will help support the next generation of policy leaders. Proceeds from this fundraising event help us provide scholarships to students, young professionals, and NGO workers so they can attend our annual Summer Conference. You can also donate a ticket to a young person so they can get a taste of Couchiching at the 2016 Gala!

Be sure to check out the table host spotlights coming out every week – first up are Armine Yalnizyan and Jack Mintz.

This year's Gala honours Dr. Anne Golden with the 2016 Couchiching Award for Public Policy Leadership. More here.

More Distinguished Gala Table Hosts Confirmed

Teva Harrison is an artist, writer, and cartoonist. She's in love with the natural world and fascinated by the spaces between (people, places, and ideas), and the way technology is changing our relationships. Teva's comics explore everything from her magic-filled hippie childhood to what it means to live with metastatic breast cancer. Her comics appear regularly on The Walrus's website. She was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer at age 37. Her memoir about living with cancer, In Between Days, will be published by House of Anansi Press in April 2016. The book was listed in The Globe and Mail’s 16 Canadian reads for the first half of 2016, the CBC's Spring Book Preview, and 49th Shelf's Most Anticipated: Our Spring 2016 Non-Fiction Preview. It can be pre-ordered on Indigo's website today. The Globe and Mail named her one of sixteen Torontonians to watch in 2016. Prior to her cancer diagnosis, Teva was the Director of Marketing at the Nature Conservancy of Canada, and before that, she worked in visual art, film, publishing, and music.

Karen K. Ho is a writer, business reporter, photographer, and editor. She recently moved back to Toronto from Yellowknife where she was the business and labour editor at Northern News Services Ltd., overseeing the business sections for the Yellowknifer, NWT News/North, and Nunavut News/North. Prior to this, Karen worked at the Business News Network, the Financial Post, Star Media Group’s, and the University of Toronto Scarborough. She has also been published in Toronto Life, The Walrus, Today in Tabs, Torontoist, The Billfold,, Japanese Subculture Research Centre, YYZ Living Magazine, ZAITEN Magazine, and the University of Toronto Magazine.

Note: For Ottawa area Couchers, table Host Desmond Cole will be a featured speaker at the 2016 Progress Summit in Ottawa, March 31st – April 2nd (

Click here for details on Gala Table Hosts: Michael Adams; Denise Balkissoon; Desmond Cole; Jonathan Kay; Dr. Jack M. Mintz; Ratna Omidvar; Dr. Enid Slack; and Armine Yalnizyan.


The 2016 Summer Conference - The Canada Project: Identity, Citizenship, and Nationhood in a Changing World
August 5th to 7th, 2016
The YMCA Geneva Park Conference Centre, Orillia, Ont.
Summer Conference Co-chairs Armine Yalnizyan and Michael Paramathasan

The Summer Conference Organizing Committee is working hard to bring you a blockbuster roster of guests who can stimulate great conversation and insights at the lake. We are pleased to introduce three of the people who will make our time together at the lake utterly unforgettable.

Keith Neumann will bring us up to date on the latest and greatest public opinion research from Environics Institute. Over decades of work with Michael Adams, Environics has created a treasure trove of discoveries about Canadians, by Canadians, for Canadians on topics like Canada's role in the world, the world-views of baby boomers and everyone else, and much, much more. We are very lucky that Michael agreed to be a table host at Couchiching's Gala at Hart House on April 11th. (Do you have your ticket yet?) He is a fantastic raconteur and author of six books including Sex In The Snow: Canadian Social Values at the end of the Millenium(1997); and Fire and Ice: The United States, Canada and the Myth of Converging Values, which won the Donner Prize in 2003.

And when we all get together in August, Environics will wow us all. The Institute is in the field again this spring to probe how we're feeling about our identity(ies) and belonging … perfect themes for this year's summer confab. Keith will bring us up to speed on Environics' cutting-edge public opinion research including a survey of Muslims in Canada, Canadian public opinion on Aboriginal peoples, and the Black experience in Toronto. It will be a fascinating glimpse into how we see ourselves, and others.

Desmond Cole has forever changed the conversation about race and police carding in Canada with his game-changing article in Toronto Life magazine last spring, “The Skin I'm In”. Desmond is a weekly columnist for the Toronto Star, and co-host of a weekly show about politics for Canadaland with Andray Domise. He's a former candidate for Toronto city council, a regional winner of the local democracy initiative, City Idol, and has worked to extend municipal voting rights to non-citizens. It's hard not to come away from a conversation with Desmond feeling like a light just got turned on.

Doug Saunders is the Globe and Mail's international affairs columnist and author of The Myth of the Muslim Tide (2012) and Arrival City: How the Largest Migration in History Is Reshaping Our World (2011). The Guardian says that Arrival City − a national bestseller and winner of the Donner Prize − is "the best popular book on cities since Jane Jacob's The Death and Life of Great American Cities half a century ago". Doug has won the National Newspaper Award, Canada's counterpart to the Pulitzer Prize, on five occasions. A friend of Couchiching, we are thrilled to welcome him back.

We'll be profiling other speakers in the coming issues of “Couchiching Connects”, so stay tuned … and don't wait to register! This year will be one for the record books!

And now some breaking news about the folks who are shepherding the process of organizing this year's Summer Conference. Emilie Nicolas, who has been a guiding light in shaping the direction and depths of the conference, has regretfully had to step down as co-chair. She remains on the Couchiching board and will continue working with the Summer Conference Organizing Committee to ensure that our ongoing engagement with youth and Aboriginal peoples is brought into the heart of this year's dialogues. We are so grateful that Michael Paramathasan has agreed to jump from Conference Organizing Committee member to fill the breach. His experiences, connections, and hard work will be invaluable in the coming weeks!

Read more about the Program.


2016 Summer Conference Reading List

See link for our suggested reading list related to this year’s topic courtesy of Manticore Books.



Chair Karen Hamilton

The faith community of which I am a part has sponsored a Syrian refugee family. We received two days’ notice before they arrived this week!

We are excited to have them here, and they are very excited to be in Canada to start a new life in a new country, a democratic country of peace and justice. As the Couchiching fund-raising committee continues to wrestle with the challenges of fund-raising for the Institute and its conversations about the nature of democracy, I wonder if we in Canada have become a little complacent. Why is it so difficult right now to fund-raise for the essential conversations that enrich our country and our lives and that, in fact, make this a country to which those in difficult circumstances want to come?

Please strengthen Canadians’ capacity to, through the Institute, continue to be a vehicle for the important conversations. Please give generously.

Couchiching Community News


Fergal Nolan, died on January 9th. A delegate at several Summer Conferences, he was the focus of the 2000 film, “Reflections at the Lake”, by documentary filmmaker Candida Paltiel, herself a former member of the executive.

Read more

Alumni on the Move

Pierre Lafontaine is now the CEO of Cross Country Canada. He was a speaker at the 2014 Summer Conference, “More than a Game: The Politics and Potential of Sport”, (



The Globe and Mail, February 16th: Martha Hall Findlay wrote: “Our federal government has changed, but certain economic fundamentals have not.” She is Executive Fellow at the School of Public Policy, University of Calgary, and a former member of the Institute’s Board of Directors.

Read more

CC Radio’s Unreserved with Rosanna Deerchild, February 7th: The philosopher, novelist, and essayist John Ralston Saul said: “Indigenous Peoples don’t need sympathy, they need you to take action.” He was the speaker at a 2015 Couchiching Conversation.


The Globe and Mail, February 9th: Jim Prentice wrote: “It is encouraging to see some early signs that Canada’s new governments understand that export pipelines are vital to Canada’s economic future.” He is a Global Fellow at the Wilson Center’s Canada Institute in Washington and was a speaker at the 2011 Summer Conference, “From the Ground Up: Civic Engagement in Our Time”, (

Read more

The Walrus, January/February 2016: In his Editor’s Note, Jonathan Kay wrote: “They’re often called crack houses—even if, these days, the drug of choice for many is crystal meth. Nearly all the London, Ontario, crack-house residents I interviewed for this article are addicted to one substance or the other.” He will be a table host at the Couchiching Gala 2016.

Read more

Toronto Star, February 4th: Desmond Cole wrote: “Few people are mourning the disappearance of online comment sections in major media outlets.” The freelance journalist and former candidate for Toronto City Council will be a table host at the Couchiching Gala 2016.

Read more

The Globe and Mail, January 28th: Tom Flanagan wrote: “The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruled this week that federal financing of First Nations’ child-welfare services is inadequate and discriminatory, and thus violates the Human Rights Act.” He is professor emeritus of political science at the University of Calgary, was chair of the aboriginal futures research program at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy, and was a speaker at the 2010 Summer Conference, “Watershed Moment or Wasted Opportunity (

Read more

Toronto Star, January 21st: Desmond Cole wrote: “The mayor of Vancouver has apologized. A veteran Canadian journalist who reports on terrorism has apologized. Many Canadians who have heard the story of three British tourists who were unnecessarily caught up in a police investigation have expressed sadness and regret. The Vancouver Police Department seems to acknowledge it lost control of the incident, but it has offered no apology.” The freelance journalist and former candidate for Toronto City Council will be a table host at the Couchiching Gala 2016.

Read more

The Globe and Mail, January 15th: Wenran Jiang wrote: “Speculation is rife that Ottawa is exploring a free-trade agreement with China. Although no dates are set for a Beijing visit by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, advice abounds from diplomats, prominent academics and business leaders on the importance of a ‘fresh approach’ to China, as Mr. Trudeau himself called it when meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping during last November’s Group of 20 summit.” Wenran, a former member of the Institute’s board of directors, is the Director of Canada-China Energy & Environment Forum.

Read more

Toronto Star, January 14th: Desmond Cole wrote: “All of us know someone who has been charged with or convicted of a crime. Most of us don’t think this connection could cost us our employment. This is exactly what happened to Ayaan Farah a couple of years ago.” The freelance journalist and former candidate for Toronto City Council will be a table host at the Couchiching Gala 2016.

Read more

Edmonton Journal, January 12th: Wenran Jiang wrote: “Since winning the election last spring, Alberta’s NDP government has been preoccupied by its first budget, new environment initiatives prior to the Paris climate conference, and a delayed royalty review process — all in ever worsening economic conditions ...” A former member of the Institute’s board of directors, Wenran is the Director of Canada-China Energy & Environment Forum.

Read more


Our Alumni/Members in the News ...

Naheed Nenshi of Calgary is one of 10 Canadian mayors who will receive the Modern Makers of Canada Award, 2016, on March 7th in Ottawa. The award has been established by the Institute on Governance “to recognize Canadians who have contributed to good governance through transformational public sector leadership.” He delivered the closing address at the 2011 Summer Conference, “From the Ground Up: Civic Engagement in Our Time” (

The Catholic Register, January 28th: Fundraising chair Karen Hamilton is quoted in an article by Deborah Gyapong of the Canadian Catholic News entitled “Liberals closing the books on charity political audits”.

Read more

TVO, February 1st: Steve Paiken wrote on his blog: “In all the big four sports – football, baseball, hockey and basketball – it’s hard to think of another athlete like Ken Dryden. That’s because there isn’t one. And because of something that happened nine years ago last Friday, I’m thinking about big #29.” Ken was a speaker at the 2014 Summer Conference, “More than a Game: The Politics and Potential of Sport”, ( ).

Read more

World Economic Forum 2016: BBC’s Chief International Correspondent Lise Doucet was a presenter and moderator at the World Economic Forum. She was a speaker at the 2012 Summer Conference, “The Arab Spring: Implications and Opportunities For Canada” (


Maclean’s, January 22, 2016: In Winnipeg one year after a public pledge to tackle racism, community activist Michael Redhead Champagne said: “Some of things that have been really exciting over the last year have been the Meet Me at the Bell Tower welcome series, where we invited different communities to come out and mix with the urban Indigenous community—eat together, laugh together and learn about one another’s cultures.” Michael was a speaker at the 2013 Summer Conference, “Coming Together as One: Navigating the Relationships Between Indigenous Peoples and Canada” (

Read more

CPAC, January 11th: Globe and Mail journalist Patrick Martin discusses Canadian foreign policy in the Middle East and the challenges facing Canada's new government. He was a speaker at the 2012 Summer Conference, “The Arab Spring: Implications and Opportunities For Canada”.


CBC News, December 29th: Jack Mintz of the School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary “agrees with Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall that Ottawa should consider giving oil-dependent provinces a break in the national equalization program.” Dr. Mintz will be a table host at the Couchiching Gala 2016.

Read more

Books of Note

The Comeback: How Aboriginals Are Reclaiming Power and Influence by John Ralston Saul offers a condensed history of issues affecting Indigenous Peoples.
For a review see

Gala table host Michael Adams is the author of six books including:

Sex in the Snow: Canadian Social Values at the End of the Millennium.
For a review see

Fire and Ice: The United States, Canada and the Myth of Converging Values, the winner of the prestigious 2003/2004 Donner Prize for the best book on Canadian public policy.
For a review see

Unlikely Utopia: The Surprising Triumph of Canadian Pluralism.
For a review see

Jim Prentice’s book, Canada, Energy and the Environment, will be published by Harper Collins. He was a speaker at the 2011 Summer Conference, “From the Ground Up: Civic Engagement in Our Time(

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


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