Couchiching Connects: November 2015

In this Issue:

Couch News

The President's Message

Programs Report

2016 Couchiching Gala

2016 Public Policy Award

2016 Summer Conference



Couch Community News

Alumni in the News

Books of Note

Calling All Readers!

News Flash! Nominations for the 2016 Couchiching Award for Public Policy Leadership Now Open! Submissions are due November 30th.

The President's Message
Adam Redish

Oh, the chill is in the air - the snow tires are on - and I have been wearing gloves on the bike ride to work! So we must be heading toward winter and the time to start thinking of the holiday gift-giving season. And what better gift to give than the gift of Couchiching!

Our country has just come through an historical federal election, and most happily, voter turnout rose. Democracy is alive and strong in Canada, and Couchiching is proud of the part we play in supporting that democracy through engaged conversation on the important public affairs issues of the day. We are particularly excited about our upcoming Summer Conference - The Canada Project -- where we will debate and analyze what it means to be Canadian as we approach the 150th anniversary of our great country.

And as we head into the holiday season, what better way to bring together the celebration of our 150th anniversary, the democracy that is so fundamental to our country and the perfect gift for someone special on your list, than a gift of a Couchiching Summer Conference! An interesting and unique gift of an experience that will be treasured for years.

With our early bird rates (over $100 off our regular rates!) why not purchase two? Buy keep one for yourself; you'll be glad you did. Just call the office (1.866.647.6374) and we will make up a unique and personalized gift card. Of course, there are lots of other things going on across the Institute too, as my colleagues have described below.


Programs Report
VP Programs, Helen Tewolde

It’s hard to believe that we are already one-third into November.

Having just returned from 30+ degrees in South East Asia, I am glad that we had the buzz of the elections to warm me upon my return! But it’s also been warming to return and get right back into the swing of everything in the Couch community by supporting the success of our programs!

Couch programs are the lifeblood of this institute. The trifecta of conversations, the Gala, and the Summer Conference are the reason why we do what we do: the fundraising, the conference calls, the meetings, and all of the logistics. These “products” are the vehicles for convening bright, curious, and impassioned individuals to engage on issues that affect Canadian public policy. My role as VP Programs this year is to ensure that there is a seamless narrative woven between these three areas of Couchiching’s public-facing programming. To date, I have engaged each of our “portfolio leads”: Vass Bednar for the gala; Ahmer Khan and Mohamed Huque for Conversations, and Armine Yalnizyan and Emilie Nicolas for the Summer Conference via telephone calls in advance of our in-person meeting on November 9th. The calls were an opportunity for portfolio leads to ask clarifying questions, brainstorm, and strategize with Adam Redish and me.

We discussed ideas to better integrate each of the portfolios. So, for example, how can we cross-promote the Gala and the Summer Cnference? Or, how might we leverage the Conversations to brainstorm around the Summer Conference? How might portfolio leads support each other to ensure we are working in tandem? These are strategy questions that require real alignment and integration behind the scenes. We have brainstormed a number of excellent ideas and will be executing these in the months to come. These committees are still accepting volunteers, so please email the leads (emails below) or myself if you’d like more information on how to participate. I look forward to working closely with our strong portfolio leadership team to ensure an exciting, unified brand of programs for Couchiching in 2015-16!


The Couchiching Gala 2016: The Institute’s Signature Toronto Event, April 11th, 2016
Couchiching Award for Public Policy Leadership

Chair, Public Policy Award and Gala Committees, Vasiliki (Vass) Bednar

For the uninitiated, the annual Couchiching Gala is an evening of sparkling conversations with a range of dynamic table hosts and is a key element in our fundraising. Planning for the 2016 Gala is underway. Watch Couchiching Connects and the website for details coming soon.

The Gala also includes the annual Couchiching Award for Public Policy Leadership, which honours the accomplishments of a Canadian who has made significant public policy contributions to Canadian life and has demonstrated bold leadership in public policy. The award 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 Stéphane Dion, Jane Jacobs, Henry Morgentaler, Elizabeth May, Lincoln Alexander, David Dodge, Mark Carney, Phil Fontaine, and William Davis. Nominations will open shortly; check our website ( for details. The Award will be presented at the 2016 Couchiching Gala.


The 2016 Summer Conference - The Canada Project An Evolving Experiment in Identity and Citizenship
August 5th to 7th, 2016
Co-chairs Emilie Nicolas and Armine Yalnazian

As Canada approaches its 150th anniversary, the annual Couchiching Summer Conference asks: Who are we as a country, and what kind of country are we becoming? What does the social experiment that is Canada offer as an example to the rest of the world, as the concepts of identity, immigration, and citizenship evolve in response to a world with increasingly blurred borders?

The 2016 Summer Conference will tackle the big picture questions about identity, immigration, and citizenship. What's the difference between old stock and new stock Canadians? Do Indigenous peoples see themselves as Canadians? Do immigrants? Do Quebeckers? What are the rights and responsibilities of citizenship? What are the emerging differences between immigration and migration? What sets Canada apart? We'll end with a thought-provoking session on the future of Canada and the meaning of nationhood in the 21st century. Is reconciliation between historically divided groups possible? Could Canada become the living embodiment of the United Nations in action?

Refresh yourself at our wonderful three-day brain spa

The Summer Conference will start on Friday afternoon and the dynamic opening keynote address will spur conversation right after dinner on Friday evening. The Conference will end, as always, too soon, on Sunday after lunch. The magic of a Couchiching Conference, as anyone who has been up to the lake will tell you, is that it is both a respite and a stimulating environment, with conversations and ideas bubbling over the course of three days. In a world of distraction and noise, where much of our news comes in 140 character bullets, the Summer Conference offers a chance to relax and engage with new ideas and new people at a leisurely pace that is all too rare. We know you are going to love the 2016 Summer Conference, but we want your feedback so we can continue to make it the best experience possible.

Volunteers! Summer Conference planning will soon by underway. To help shape the dialogue, volunteer now for the Planning Committee by going to our website, click on the ‘contact us’ button or send a message to

2016 Summer Conference Reading List

The Globe and Mail, October 16th: Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi wrote: “Divided, Canada stands to lose what makes it great”,

Read more

In These Times, October 12th: Contributing editor Michelle Chen asked: “Are Open Borders the Solution to the Refugee Crisis?”

Read more

The Globe and Mail, October 16th: Summer Conference co-chair Armine Yalnizyan wrote: “Canada can’t let labour mobility create an underclass of TFWs”. She is senior economist with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

Read more


Chair Karen Hamilton

“In the realm of biblical trivia, it is a fun and fascinating fact that the Bible has more to say about money than sex! Money is understood to be which enables structures and human institutions to enhance the learning, wisdom, and community that enhance life. Two examples: “Wisdom is a shelter as money is a shelter, but the advantage of knowledge is this: that wisdom preserves the life of its possessor” (Ecclesiastes, 7:12). “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house” (Malachi 3:10).

Fundraising for the Institute is challenging and fun and feels to be of great importance. The dialogue we have, a dialogue that is open to all, does indeed enhance the learning, wisdom, and community that enhance the life of our democracy.

Please give; please give generously.”

Couchiching Conversations
Chair Ahmer Khan

Couchiching Conversations are free public events that aim to provide a safe space for challenging discussions.

Stay tuned for the next Conversation and tweet topic suggestions @couchiching or on Facebook. Stay in touch with twitter: @couchiching, by email: and by website: or


Couchiching Community News


A Unique Film Opportunity for “Connects” Readers

“In This Heaven” documents the tireless efforts of Mae Katt, a First Nations nurse practitioner as she runs a mobile drug addiction treatment program in the remote, under-served Matawa First Nations communities in Northern Ontario. In some Matawa communities, up to 80 per cent of the population is addicted to opoids.

For over a year, filmmaker Candida Paltiel followed Mae and her team to Marten Falls and Neskantaga, two formerly invisible remote communities also negotiating future mining developments in the massive mineral find known as the Ring of Fire, situated on their pristine territorial homelands. The film reveals the dual struggle of Matawa communities to reclaim their health and determine the shape of their future on their land.

The film was commissioned and broadcast under the title “Rings of Fire” on Al Jazeera English’s flagship “Witness” program.

Candy served the Institute in a number of capacities, notably as a member of the Executive Committee and as the chair of the 2012 Summer Conference, “The Arab Spring: Implications and Opportunities for Canada” (


Well done!

Congratulations to Milen Melles, daughter of Amanuel and Leeya, on receiving a June Callwood Harmony Scholarship at the 2015 Harmony Awards Gala. The scholarships recognize the outstanding achievements of youth in promoting harmony and diversity across Canada.


Alumni in the News

The Literary Review of Canada (LRC) presents Dr. Bessma Momani in a discussion of her latest book, Arab Dawn: Arab Youth and the Demographic Dividend They Will Bring, on December 3rd at 7:00 p.m. at Hart House, Debates Room, 7 Hart House Circle, Toronto. Subscribers to the LRC will be admitted free. The general fee is $10 and the student fee is $5.00. Bessma is an associate professor at the University of Waterloo’s Balsillie School of International Affairs and Senior Fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation. She was a speaker at the 2012 Summer Conference, “The Arab Spring: Implications and Opportunities For Canada”, (

The Globe and Mail, November 9th: In a devastatingly critical report from Associated Press, a World Anti-Doping Agency panel, chaired by Richard Pound, “accused the Russian government on Monday of complicity in widespread doping and cover-ups by its track and field athletes and said they should all be banned from competition until the country cleans up its act.” He was a speaker at the 2014 Summer Conference, “More than a Game: The Politics and Potential of Sport (

Read more

Read more

CBC Radio, November 9th: Paul Heinbecker was Anna Maria Tremonti’s guest on “The Current”. “After a decade of being ridiculed for its dismissiveness on the environment file and called out in the years before that for stalling on its agreements, Canada has a lot riding on the Paris Minister's meetings leading up to the even bigger UN Climate Change Conference at the end of the month.” A speaker at the 2012 Summer Conference, “The Arab Spring: Implications and Opportunities For Canada”, the former Canadian Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations and former Ambassador to Germany is the Director of the Laurier Centre for Global Relations, and Distinguished Fellow, International Relations, at the independent research Centre for International Governance Innovation.


Athletics Illustrated, November 5th: Runner, writer, race director, and coach Christopher Kelsall wrote: “Richard Pound, the founder and past President of the World Anti-doping Agency (WADA) will announce from Geneva, Switzerland on Monday, November 9th what he and his colleagues have discovered in their investigation of alleged systematic doping in Russia, titled, ‘How Russia Makes Champions.’” He was a speaker at the 2014 Summer Conference, “More than a Game: The Politics and Potential of Sport ( This article provides background to the November 9th item.

Read more

November 4th: Hon. Stéphane Dion, the Member of Parliament for Saint-Laurent, was named Minister of Foreign Affairs (leading the newly-named Global Affairs Canada) in the first cabinet of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. He was the recipient of the 2011 Couchiching Award for Public Policy Leadership. Hon. Carolyn Bennett, the Member of Parliament for St. Paul’s, was named Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs. A former family physician and critic for Aboriginal Affairs, she was a delegate at the 2013 Summer Conference, “Coming Together as One: Navigating the Relationship Between Indigenous Peoples and Canada” (

Inside the Games, November 3rd: Reporter Nick Butler wrote: “Directly carrying out drug-testing would be a "natural extension" of the World Anti-Doping Agency's (WADA) remit, founding President Richard Pound believes, although he claims an independent body such as that proposed at last month's Olympic Summit would require a substantial funding increase.” He was a speaker at the 2014 Summer Conference, “More than a Game: The Politics and Potential of Sport (

Read more

Ottawa Citizen, November 3rd: Reporter Tom Spears wrote about native protesters gathering on Victoria Island “to call for an end to condo development on islands around the Chaudière Falls. Taking part was John Ralston Saul, who said: I don’t understand why land which was zoned park was so rapidly rezoned for condos and commerce in the centre of the national capital ...” The author of The Comeback was the featured speaker at a 2015 Couchiching Conversation.

Read more

The Globe and Mail, November 3rd: As documents go online with the official opening of the National Research Centre for Truth and Reconciliation at the University of Manitoba, Commissioner Marie Wilson said: “We want everything that has come forward, which so many Canadians have told us they knew nothing about, to stay in a public and accessible way so that we don’t slide back into either ignorance or amnesia.” She was a speaker at the 2013 Summer Conference, “Coming Together as One: Navigating the Relationship Between Indigenous Peoples and Canada” (

Read more

Ottawa Writers Festival, October 2015: Mona Eltahawy, the award-winning Egyptian-American feminist writer and commentator, discussed her book, “Headscarves and Hymens” at the festival. She was the speaker at the April 27th Couchiching Conversation and a speaker at the 2011 Summer Conference, “From the Ground Up: Civic Engagement in our Time) (

Read more

Power & Influence Magazine, Fall 2015: An article by Marie-Danielle Smith examined the 1995 Quebec Referendum on sovereignty and asked Stéphane Dion about a future referendum: “I see a possibility. But I don’t like it. I think it’s unlikely, but it’s not impossible, and we need to continue to advocate the case for a united Canada.” The Member of Parliament for Saint-Laurent-Cartierville and received the Couchiching Award for Public Policy Leadership in 2011.

Read more

The Hill Times’ Rookies Guide to the 42nd Parliament, October 26th: Jane Hilderman, executive director of Samara Canada, co-authored an article entitled “Five strategies for new MPs”. She was a speaker at the 2015 Summer Conference, “Are We Failing Our Future? Time for a new deal between generations” (

Read more

Power & Influence Magazine, Fall 2015: Jane Hilderman co-authored an article entitled “Democracy Calling”.

Read more

The Current, October 21st: Rima Berns-McGown was a guest on the episode entitled “Post-election, Canada must recognize truth about multiculturalism”. She is a past-president of the Institute, a current Board member, and teaches diaspora studies at the University of Toronto Mississauga.


The Agenda with Steve Paikin, October 22nd: Bessma Momani, Senior Fellow, Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) and political scientist, University of Waterloo, took part in a discussion of Russia’s global goals and its influence on foreign policy. She was a speaker at the 2012 Summer Conference, “The Arab Spring: Implications and Opportunities for Canada” (

All episodes of The Agenda with Steve Paikin are available on-demand in streaming video.

The Globe and Mail, October 16th: Armine Yalnizyan wrote: “The conclusion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade talks in early October unleashed a torrent of talk about trade’s impact on Canadian jobs, particularly in the auto and dairy sectors.” The senior economist with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives was a speaker at the 2015 Summer Conference, “Are We Failing Our Future? Time for a new deal between generations” ( and is the co-chair of the 2016 Summer Conference, “The Canada Project”.

Read more

The Globe and Mail, October 16th: Thomas Homer-Dixon wrote: “By pressing the niqab issue, the Conservatives made an enormous strategic mistake.” The CIGI Chair of Global Systems, Balsillie School of International Affairs, and professor at the University of Waterloo was a speaker at the 2010 Summer Conference, Watershed Moment or Wasted Opportunity (

Read more

The Globe and Mail, October 15th: Ken Dryden wrote: “The longest election campaign in modern Canadian history is almost over. Seventy-eight days. It began with the three major parties only a few percentage points apart. It will end, polls say, at least between the Conservatives and the Liberals, just as close.” He was a speaker at the 2014 Summer Conference, “More than a Game: The Politics and Potential of Sport” (

Read more

The Agenda with Steve Paikin, October 15th: Glen Hodgson, Senior Vice-President and Chief Economist at the Conference Board of Canada, was an expert panelist on the topic of Canada’s lagging productivity “that has left Canadian GDP per capita stagnant. He was a speaker at the 2014 Summer Conference, “More than a Game: The Politics and Potential of Sport” ( and the 2009 Summer Conference, “The Global Politics of Food” (

All episodes of The Agenda with Steve Paikin are available on-demand in streaming video.

The Samara Blog, August 20th: Addressing non-profit leaders, this blog post was co-authored by Samara's executive director Jane Hilderman and the Ontario Nonprofit Network's (ONN) executive director Cathy Taylor. An excerpt: “According to the 2015 Edelman Trust Barometer, non-profit groups are the most trusted of groups—more so than business, media organizations and politicians. This unique position allows non-profits to hear what’s happening on the ground, as well as develop and amplify the voices of Canadians widely. Fundamentally, non-profits form a vital bridge between communities and government: it’s our role—and our responsibility—to invest in the democratic engagement of the people and communities that we serve, and create public policy.”


Books of Note

Arab Dawn: Arab Youth and the Demographic Dividend They Will Bring, by Dr. Bessma Momani, UTP Insighta, University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division © 2015, World Rights.

Read more

Canadian Election Analysis 2015, edited by Alex Marland, associate professor of political science at Memorial University, and Thierry Giasson, associate professor of political science at Université Laval, and published by Samara and UBC Press. Sixty-six articles, all under 880 words, are available for download from UBC Press as of November 9th and will be rolled out, one per day, as a blog series on Samara’s website (

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
View Now

Sign Up for our Newsletter!