U of A campus & Livestream • November 17–19, 2023
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2023-11-17-0720 Opening Keynote



Friday, November 17


Introductions/Opening remarks

7:00 PM – 7:20 PM



See It So We Believe It:
The Power of Holistic Vision to Build Momentum For Big Change 

with Avi Lewis

7:20 PM – 9:00 PM
Avi Lewis

Avi Lewis is a documentary filmmaker, journalist, and educator.  His 30-year journalism career has spanned directing and producing award-winning theatrically-released documentaries, The Take and This Changes Everything to hosting and reporting for tv networks worldwide including City TV, CBC, UK's Channel 4 and Al Jazeera English. In 2015, he was a co-author of The Leap Manifesto, a climate justice manifesto that was signed by more than 50,000 Canadians. Avi has also been deeply involved in the emergent frame of the Green New Deal – producing the animated short film Message from the Future with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, which was viewed 12 million times and nominated for an Emmy Award. Avi is an Associate Professor at UBC where his teaching focuses on climate justice and documentary filmmaking.


Saturday, November 18



Building the Economy We Want

with Angella MacEwen

9:00 AM – 10:15 AM
Angella Macewen

Angella MacEwen is a Senior Economist at CUPE National, a research associate with the CCPA, and a policy fellow with the Broadbent Institute. She has worked as a labour economist in Ottawa since 2012, covering a wide range of social and economic issues that affect workers. Angella recently co-authored a book on wealth inequality and tax policy in Canada: “Share the Wealth: How we can tax Canada’s super-rich and create a better country for everyone”.


Breakout Session 1A

Housing as a Right 

with Carolyn Whitzman & Laura Murphy

10:30 AM – 11:45 AM
Carolyn Whitzman

Tools for Realizing the Right to Housing in Canada

Dr. Carolyn Whitzman is a housing and social policy consultant and expert advisor for the HART project at UBC, focused on housing assessments using open data. She has authored six books, including "Clara at the Door with a Revolver" (2023) and the upcoming "How to Home: Fixing Canada's Housing Crisis" (2024).

Laura Murphy

Laura Murphy is an Edmonton-based housing researcher.


Breakout Session 1B 

The Power of Arts and Culture

with Ahmed 'Knowmadic' Ali & Carissa Halton

10:30 AM – 11:45 AM
Ahmed Knowmadic Ali

Knowmadic is an Edmonton-based poet, writer, musician. He is a former Edmonton Poet Laureate.

Carissa Halton

Arts-Fueled Social Movements: A Historical Account

Carissa Halton is a storyteller, facilitator and writer. Her debut book of essays, Little Yellow House: Finding Community in a Changing Neighbourhood, explores life, heartbreak and resilience in Alberta Avenue and was a finalist for the 2019 Edmonton Book Prize. Raised in a family and community rich with stories, she lives in Edmonton with her husband and children. Her debut novel about the politically tumultuous 1920s is in stores Fall 2025.



Summer of Smoke and Fire: Climate Change, Health, and the North

with Dr. Courtney Howard

1:00 PM – 2:15 PM
Dr. Courtney Howard

Dr. Courtney Howard is an Emergency Physician in Yellowknife’s Dene Territory. A Canadian Medical Association Board Member and former president of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, she has done research around menstrual cups and wildfires and is the Vice-Chair of the Global Climate and Health Alliance. She sits on the Steering Committee of the Planetary Health Alliance, and is part of the Editorial Advisory Board of the Lancet Planetary Health and the Journal of Climate Change and Health. She has two young daughters and loves to dance. 


Breakout Session 2A 

Alberta's Drug Poisoning Crisis

with Heather Morris & Marliss Taylor

2:30 PM – 3:45 PM
Heather Morris

Alberta's Drug Poisoning Crisis: How Did We Get Here and Where Do We Need to Go?

Heather Morris is a registered nurse with a PhD in Health Services & Policy Research. As a former public health nurse, her research interests focus on substance use and harm reduction, public perceptions of harm reduction and how individuals with lived and living experience engage in political advocacy to shape drug policy reform in Canada. Heather is currently a postdoctoral fellow with the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Alberta and the Inner City Health and Wellness Program, Royal Alexandra Hospital..

Marliss Taylor

Marliss Taylor, RN, BScN is the Manager of Streetworks and Director of Health Services at Boyle Street Community Services. She has worked in Harm Reduction for the past 28 years in Edmonton’s downtown core. She was the first to initiate the use of community-based naloxone in Canada in 2005. She was a member of the Alberta Health Services Board of Directors from 2015-2019, a member of the Minister’s Opioid Emergency Response Commission, and is the Chair of the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition.


Breakout Session 2B 

Media in a Changing World

with Sharon J Riley & Jeremy Appel

2:30 PM – 3:45 PM
Sharon J Riley

The Role of Journalism in Democracy (In an Online World)

Sharon J. Riley is an award-winning journalist based in Edmonton. She is the Prairies bureau chief for The Narwhal, an online magazine focusing on the issues related to the environment and energy. Sharon’s writing has also been published by The Walrus, Harper’s, The Tyee and Maisonneuve, among others. Sharon was born and raised in rural Alberta, and if she's not at her computer she's probably in the Rockies with her family.

Jeremy Appel

Promises and Perils of Independent Media

Jeremy Appel is the author of the forthcoming book Kenneyism: Jason Kenney’s Pursuit of Power, and an independent journalist who writes The Orchard newsletter. His work regularly appears in independent media outlets, such as Jacobin, Ricochet, The Breach, The Progress Report and The Maple.



Alberta Needs to Fix Its Broken Generational Deal

Paul Kershaw (GenSqueeze)

4:00 PM – 5:15 PM
Paul Kershaw

Dr. Paul Kershaw is a tenured professor at the University of BC, public speaker, regular media contributor and Founder of Generation Squeeze – a “Think and Change Tank” that promotes wellbeing for all generations by turning evidence into action and rejuvenating democracy to protect what is sacred for younger and future generations: a healthy childhood, home and planet.


Sunday, November 19



Strikes, Political Action, and the Fight for Democracy

with Stephanie Ross

9:00 AM – 10:15 AM
Stephanie Ross

Dr. Stephanie Ross is Associate Professor in the School of Labour Studies at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. She is the co-author of Building a Better World: An Introduction to the Labour Movement in Canada (4th ed.) and numerous other works on labour movement strategy and politics.


Breakout Session 3A 

Health-Care Crisis

with Lorian Hardcastle & Rebecca Graff-McRae

10:30 AM – 11:45 AM
Lorian Hardcastle

Building a Sustainable Health-Care System for Alberta

Lorian Hardcastle is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Law and Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary. She has a JD (with Health Law and Policy Specialization Certificate) from Dalhousie University and a masters and doctorate in law from the University of Toronto. Her research focuses on health law and policy, with a particular interest in the regulation and finance of the health-care delivery system, governance and liability issues in the health sector, and the governance of public health.

Rebecca Graff-McRae

A Series of Unfortunate Events: Lessons from Alberta's Health-Care Crisis

Rebecca Graff-McRae completed her undergraduate and doctoral studies at Queen’s University Belfast (PhD Irish Politics, 2006). Her work, which interrogates the role of memory and commemoration in post-conflict transition, has evolved through a Faculty of Arts fellowship at Memorial University Newfoundland and a SSHRC post-doctoral research fellowship at the University of Alberta. She has previously worked with the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland and Edmonton City Council. At Parkland, Rebecca has authored research reports on issues related to health care in Alberta, among them “Misdiagnosis: Privatization and Disruption in Alberta’s Medical Laboratory Services” and “Alberta in Context: Health Care Under NDP Governments.”


Breakout Session 3B

Organizing for a Stronger Democracy

with Dave Meslin Emma Jackson

10:30 AM – 11:45 AM
Dave Meslin

Our political landscape is characterized by polarization, disengagement, distorted election results, regressive economic legislation and corporate lobbyists controlling the direction of public policy.  We can do better.  Dave Meslin wrote Teardown: Rebuilding Democracy from the Ground Up. The best-selling book is a recipe for change, a cure for cynicism and a war on apathy.  There is a path forward.  We’ll never get the public policies we need, if the underlying operating system of our democracy is broken.

Emma Jackson

Emma Jackson is an organizer, writer and campaigner based on Treaty 6 territory in Edmonton, AB. She grew up in the Canadian labour movement and first cut her organizing teeth in the student fossil fuel divestment movement. She now works for the global climate justice organization 350.org, organizes locally with Climate Justice Edmonton, and sits on the board of the Alberta Workers' Association for Research and Education (AWARE). She's passionate about how we can build transformative mass movements, defeat Pierre Poilievre and the rise of the far-right, and win the world working people deserve.


Closing speaker

Realizing Genuine Reconciliation 

with Lewis Cardinal

12:00 PM -1:30 PM
Lewis Cardinal

Born in Sucker Creek Cree First Nation, Lewis Cardinal was nine when he joined his father in Edmonton. His dad, vice-president of the Indian Association of Alberta, inspired him to become a community and political activist. He studied at the University of Alberta in the Indigenous Peoples’ Education PhD program, as well as teaching in the Department of Educational Policy Studies and the School of Native Studies. Politically active, he ran for municipal and federal office. As an educator and communicator, Cardinal emphasizes creating links among Indigenous communities and between their communities and non-Indigenous communities.