Parkland Fall Conference 2021
This conference took place November 19-21, 2021
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Taking Action Workshops

Conference participants will be able to choose between four excellent action workshops on Saturday and another four workshops on Sunday. This will be a great opportunity to hear from a number of insightful experts, leaders and activists on these themes, learn some new skills and participate in a discussion about how we envision and build the future we need.

Saturday, Nov 20 1:00–2:15 PM

A - The Future of K-12 Education in Alberta - Finding Solutions in a World Defined by Cascading Crisis

This workshop will facilitate a discussion around the opportunities and challenges facing kindergarten to grade 12 (K-12) education in the province of Alberta over the next several years. As the pandemic moves into a recovery phase, Alberta schools will collectively be confronting the psychological, social & economic fallout of the coronavirus. Chronic challenges like inequity and mental health have become acute stressors and will need innovative and action-oriented solutions. This session will use the wisdom of the crowd to source how we might support and bolster our K-12 public education system in the province of Alberta.


Dr. Phil McRae is executive staff officer and associate co-ordinator, research with the Alberta Teachers' Association (ATA), and adjunct professor within the Faculty of Education at the University of Alberta, where he earned his PhD. He represents the teaching profession and field of education in Canada on several provincial and national committees and as director on several boards, including Parkland Institute.


Jason Shilling was elected president of the Alberta Teachers’ Association in 2019 following two years of service as vice-president and more than eight years of service as district representative for South West. As vice-president, Schilling chaired the Central Table Bargaining Committee and the Finance Committee, served as a member of the CTF (Canadian Teachers’ Federation) Committee and acted as Provincial Executive Council liaison to the English Language Arts Council. He was an English and drama teacher at Kate Andrews High School, in Coaldale, where he worked for 17 years.

Brandi Rai is President Alberta School Councils Association. Brandi lives in Edmonton and has five children in grades 6 through 11, and is a strong advocate for parent voice in public education. Formed in 1929 as an affiliate of the Canadian Home and School Federation, the Alberta School Councils' Association (ASCA) has changed over the years as parent involvement and engagement in education became increasingly valued and supported. In 1995, revisions to the Alberta School Act included mandated school councils - a forum for parents to advise the principal and school board on education matters.

B - Care for the Long Term: Rebuilding Seniors' Care for Today and Tomorrow

The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed and exacerbated the entrenched problems and gaps in long-term care in Alberta and across Canada. Despite these tragic lessons, inadequate staffing, burnout among healthcare workers and decisions based on profit over people continue to leave our seniors vulnerable. This workshop will consider recent Alberta-based research from Naomi Lightman, Rebecca Graff-McRae, and national seniors' care experts to explore solutions that centre the best interests of residents and workers. These actions will form the basis of our advocacy for the future.


Naomi Lightman is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Calgary and Board member of the Parkland Institute. Her areas of research expertise include aging, care work, migration, gender, inequality, and research methodology. Her current research involves community-based interviews with immigrant women health care aides in long-term care in Calgary, examining how the pandemic has impacted their livelihoods, health and well-being.

Rebecca Graff-McRae has been a Parkland Institute research manager since 2015. She completed her undergraduate and doctoral studies at Queen’s University Belfast (PhD Irish Politics, 2006), and has held post-doctoral fellowships at Memorial University Newfoundland, University of Alberta, and University College Cork. Her work for Parkland has focused on ways evidence-based policy can improve and expand public supports and services—from healthcare and seniors’ care to education and basic income.

C - Can The Water Speak? Conservation Policy through an Indigenous Trans-systemic lens

How do we maintain sustainable water sourcing? Is it a right or a responsibility? The answer is 'Yes!' A 'single world view' in policy creation has been inadequate in addressing the challenges of environmental, governmental, and social conditions affecting water conservation. Indigenous populations have been developing water conservation strategies based on natural law, since the beginning. By acknowledging the water as an essential sacred source, Aboriginal peoples have developed procedures for water use that maintain due regard for the environment as a whole. Lack of acknowledgement of those strategies has been tied up in the legal struggle over rights and ownership of the water (and all the resources contained therein), thereby holding up any real action for change to this day.

Join conservationist Harvey Locke, and Anishinaabe Elder Peter Schuler as we ask the question: How can we support a Trans-systemic approach to water conservation that addresses both ongoing supply, ecological, and spiritual demands?


Don McIntyre is a member of Parkland Institute's board of directors and an assistant professor at the Dhillon Business School in the Faculty of Management at the University of Lethbridge. He holds a bachelor's and master's of laws from UBC Law School and is ABD on his PhD in laws looking at legal pluralism, property, and how Indigenous trans-systemics can enhance and improve Western legal paradigms. Don’s parents are Scottish and Algonquin, and he has spent much of his life working to reconcile the position of Aboriginal populations in Canada.


Peter Schuler is a grandfather and Elder of the Mississaugas of the Credit, and a member of the Minweyweygaan Midewin Lodge in Manitoba. An amateur writer and artist, Peter tries to pass on traditional Ojibwe teachings through storytelling, art and craft making. He has recently co-taught a course entitled Introduction to Indigenous Environmental Knowledge with Professor Dan McCarthy at the University of Waterloo.

Harvey Locke worked as a lawyer for 14 years before pursuing his passion for protecting wild places. In 1999, after many years of volunteer work for conservation initiatives, he became a full-time conservationist dedicated to national parks, wilderness, wildlife, large landscape and connectivity conservation and climate change. Harvey is co-founder and senior advisor for Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative and Nature Needs Half.

D - Using online tools to effectively communicate for the world we need

Effective advocacy depends on good communication between you and your audience and understanding how to use online communications tools is critical to this. Learn how to effectively plan communications activities and use social media tools to influence the public and government. While online communication will never replace face-to-face communication, it does provide us with new and immediate ways of connecting with people, sharing information and promoting your issues on an ongoing basis.


Dave Cournoyer is an award-winning writer, podcaster, and communications professional based in Edmonton, Alberta. He launched in January 2005 and it quickly became one of the best-read political websites in Alberta. He currently works as a Communications Advisor with the United Nurses of Alberta and is a member of United Steelworkers Local 1-207.