Couchiching Connects: November 2013


In this Issue:

Couchiching Salutes
Message from Executive Committee Chair
2014 Summer Conference
The Couchiching Gala 2014
Marketing and Communications Committee
Opinions: Our Membes Quoted
2nd Annual National Aboriginal Physical Activity Conference
Calling All Readers


Couchiching Institute Salutes Publisher Douglas Gibson

October 10th, 2013: Canada awoke to the thrilling news that Alice Munro was the winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize for Literature. Commenting on the news, Couchiching executive member Douglas Gibson, her long-time publisher, said: “All of Canada is just delighted by the news.” He said that her gift is to weave magic into stories about ordinary people. As Doug noted on his website, this is “the ultimate good-news story. A wonderful event for all Canadians with a superb author, one of ours, being honoured at last.”The Institute is justly proud of Doug’s very important role in the Munro story and offers him our warmest congratulations.

Honouring Munro: Gibson’s Proposal

Publishers are trained to think about the long term. As a proud publisher of Alice Munro, here is my suggestion for how Canada should plan to honour her in the long term.
All levels of government – local, provincial, federal – should immediately join forces in a race to acquire two important properties.
First, the house in Wingham where young Alice Laidlaw grew up. It stands, largely unchanged, on the outskirts of town to this day, in private hands. Second, the house in Clinton, where Alice Munro has lived for almost 40 years, creating stories that have soared around the world. It belongs to the Munro family.
Arrangements to buy both properties – at a fair price, and an appropriate time – should begin today. Parks Canada should be involved, on behalf of the millions of future literary tourists who will surely flock to see “Alice Munro Country.” 


A Message from the Chair of the Executive Committee

I always find November a very busy (work) month. The peace and calm of summer is behind us, the December holidays are still a long way off, and so I find myself focused on work and getting as much done as possible. 
That also applies to the labour of love that is Couchiching, and this November is no different as the Institute is very busy on a number of fronts:
• We had an excellent Board meeting in late October, wrapped up 2013, and discussed 2014. 
• We are well into planning what will be a fascinating, thought-provoking, and dynamic 2014 Summer Conference on sport. Great brainstorming sessions were held in Toronto and Ottawa and the Program Committee has begun meeting to flesh out the conference details.
• Planning for “The Couchiching Gala 2014” is well underway and once again we anticipate a memorable evening of fine food, simulating conversation, and exciting entertainment. 
• We will soon kick off the call for nominations for the Couchiching Award for Public Policy Leadership. In the decade since its inception, the award has become acknowledged as one of the most prestigious in Canada as it recognizes truly remarkable Canadians. I encourage all Institute members to consider nominating an individual who has made a lasting contribution to Canadian public policy. 
And of course, we continue to move forward with other activities, including Conversations (and the dynamic Inspirit Conversation series) and drafting the 2014 budget.


The 2014 Summer Conference

More than a Game: The Politics and Potential of Sport, August 7-10, Geneva Park, ON


Conference Co-Chairs, Douglas Gibson,, and Heather Keachie,

The Program Committee held its second meeting on November 12th after two very successful brainstorming sessions in Toronto and Ottawa. The diverse group of about 20 people will continue to meet monthly until the 2014 Summer Conference. The first meeting discussed various themes and brainstormed an impressive and ambitious wish-list of speakers. At the November meeting, we discussed and debated a proposed conference outline, got to work on the conference description, and discussed the conference title. Our working title is "More than a Game: The Politics and Potential of Sport". Do you like it? Do you have other suggestions involving sport metaphors or puns? Let us know! And if you're interested in joining the Program Committee, or if you have a great idea we need to hear about, send an email to Play on, team, play on!
Relevant Readings
The Globe and Mail, November 9th: “Own the Podium was a huge success at the 2010 Winter Games, as Canada carried off an armload of gold medals. The program has since redoubled its efforts, with predictions of bigger success. But will a drop in corporate funding have a negative impact on the country’s long-term ability to churn out winners?” 
The Globe and Mail, November 9th: “Canada is at a crossroads. A gap has grown between the middle class and the wealthy. Now, that divide is threatening to erode a cherished Canadian value: equality of opportunity for all. This article is part of The Globe's Wealth Paradox series*, a two-week examination into how the wealth divide is shaping Canada's cities, schools, social programs – and even its national sport.” 



Salim Rachid, Chair / @salim_rachid


Immigration Series

October 23 Toronto Conversation: “Are There ‘Good’ and ‘Bad’ Immigrants?” 

In partnership with the Newcomer Women's Services Toronto (, the Institute held a Conversation discussing the worrying trend of branding immigrants as either ‘good’ or’ bad’ based on their economic viability. Hosted by Samara ( and led by Toronto Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam (, the event was well-attended with over 40 people present, including media. A lively discussion was generated on topics ranging from the role of the labour market in determining who qualifies as a ‘good’ immigrant to the ways in which immigrant and racialized communities can engage in political decisions. These thoughts were captured in an article by New Canadian Media (, which expanded on the topic. The success of the Conversation would not have been possible without the partnership of the Newcomer Women’s Services, the support of Samara, and the leadership of Councillor Wong-Tam. 
Youth and Spirituality Series
Stay tuned for videos and photos on our website ( from the third Conversation in the Youth and Spirituality Series, held in Vancouver. 
Stay tuned for a video podcast on our Youth and Spirituality micro-site: ( )
For Conversation photos, visit 


The Couchiching Gala 2014: The Institute's Signature Fundraising Event

Chair, Gala Committee, Leslie de Meulles

In 2003, the Institute established the Couchiching Award for Public Policy Leadership, which recognizes and celebrates those who have made a significant contribution to Canadian public policy.
In 2013, the award was presented at The Couchiching Gala instead of during the Summer Conference. The award will again be a highlight of the 2014 Gala in April. As the Gala and the Award have become linked, the two committee portfolios will be subsumed into one portfolio moving forward. For this year only, those wishing only to participate in the nominations process, but not necessarily serve on the Gala Committee, will be able to step down after the award winner is chosen. 
Stay tuned for the Call for Nominations for the 2014 Couchiching Award for Public Policy Leadership, coming in the next few days. 
In the meantime, lovely photos from the 2013 gala are available online. Take a look at our Big Picture Gallery and re-visit the ambience and heated table conversations that took place on April 26th at Storys in Toronto.
Definitely a night to remember (


Marketing and Communications Committee

Aisha Silim, Chair,; Sheila Robertson, Vice-Chair,

The committee continues to work on a number of initiatives in support of ongoing and upcoming events in the Conversations, Public Policy, and Gala portfolios. 
The committee is coordinating the launch of sub-branding and a micro-site for the Youth and Spirituality Series, as well as promotional materials for upcoming Youth and Spirituality events. Ongoing Conversations continue to be marketed via our email distribution lists. Support is being provided for the advertising of the Public Policy award, and the committee will continue to work on promotional materials for the Gala and the award. The launch of the 2014 promotional video is underway, and the final product is near completion. The committee continues to recruit and train new volunteers. If you are interested in joining us, please contact Aisha at


Opinions: Couchiching Members Quoted

Metro, Calgary, November 3rd:  “ ... with temperatures plunging and more than 20 centimetres of snow falling in some areas of the city over the weekend, Summer Conference attendee Dr. John Rook, president and chief executive of the Calgary Homeless Foundation, said he doesn’t believe the housing market has recovered and there’s a drastic need for creative solutions. ‘There’s a huge problem there — the flood continues to create that problem for us,” Rook said. “I’m not sure what we’re going to do at this point . . . we don’t want anybody to die. It’s pretty critical right now.’”


Couchiching Alumni in the News

The Globe and Mail, November 9th: “Renowned historian Margaret MacMillan examines the symphonic lead-up to the First World war, and downplays the inevitability” in her new book, The War that Ended Peace: The Road to 1914, Allen Lane, 784 pages, $38. She was a speaker at the 2010 Summer Conference, “Watershed Moment or Wasted Opportunity ( 
Former Assembly of First Nations national chief Phil Fontaine, OC, OM, is a co-winner of the 2013 Scotiabank Ethical Leadership Award, which “recognizes a Canadian leader who has demonstrated outstanding ethical leadership in the face of a challenging situation that held serious implications.” He was a speaker at the 2013 Summer Conference, “Coming Together as One: Navigating the Relationship Between Indigenous Peoples and Canada” ( 
Ottawa Citizen, October 30th: Long-time Institute member, Constance Backhouse, CM, OOnt, FRSC, was presented with a 2013 Governor General’s award in Commemoration of the Persons Case by Gov. Gen. David Johnston. Considered Canada’s “pre-eminent feminist historian, she said: “(The award is) a great way to have people remember the depth of legal discrimination against women, historically.”
The Republic, October 16th: The Muslim world needs democracy and economic reform — on that, almost everyone agrees. As Rami Khouri, columnist for the Daily Star of Beirut, recently complained: "Arab countries ... have spent nearly a century developing themselves and have so little to show for it. Not a single credible Arab democracy. ... Not a single Arab society that can claim to have achieved a reasonably sustainable level of social and economic development. ..." He was a speaker at the 2012 Summer Conference, “The Arab Spring: Implications and Opportunities for Canada” ( 
Globe and Mail, October 14th: Headlining the Ontario Economic Summit, held in Toronto, November 6th - 8th, were Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, who addressed the 2013 Summer Conference, and Hon. James Flaherty, a speaker at the 2010 Summer Conference, “Watershed Moment or Wasted Opportunity” (
Postmedia News, October 8th: Shawn Atleo, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, called upon the federal government to take substantive active in critical areas — by recognizing native treaties and land claims, establishing a public inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal women, and dropping its “unilateral” and “top-down” approach on how to bolster education for Aboriginal children. He was a speaker at the 2013 Summer Conference.
CBC News, October 8th: Phil Fontaine joins NB Power's board of directors. 
Positive News, Autumn 2013: Russell Diabo, also a speaker at the 2013 Summer Conference, was quoted in an article entitled “Fresh hope for Indigenous rights in Canada as new generation of activists gains support”. This UK-based publication featured an in-depth analysis of Idle No More. Diabo, who is described as a “veteran First Nations activist”, said that what’s different about Idle No More is that “it’s been able to harness [that] anger to mobilise not just rural communities, but a new generation of urban, educated Indigenous people.”
For information:  


A Reminder - 2nd Annual National Aboriginal Physical Activity Conference

February 19th to 22nd, 2014, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ont. 

Hosted by the Aboriginal Physical Activity and Cultural Circle, this is the nation’s largest conference on Physical Activity for First Nations, Métis, and Inuit people, created for all those with an interest in sports, recreation, fitness, and traditional activity who may be band council members, health directors, representatives or health practitioners, counsellors or social workers, federal, provincial, or municipal health employees, academics, researchers, recreation workers, coaches, fitness instructors, cultural leaders, community members, and all others interested in the promotion of health and wellness through physical activity.
The Circle is hosting the conference to provide a networking and educational opportunity. There will also be a tradeshow for Aboriginal organizations and mainstream businesses to share their services and products.
For information, visit

Callings all readers of Couchiching Connects!

Please send information on Newsmakers, Couchiching Alumni in the News, and Opinions: Our Members Write ... to Sheila Robertson, Vice-Chair, Marketing and Communications,  


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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