Alberta at the Crossroads
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


The Alberta and world we want

with Avi Lewis

7:20 PM – 9:00 PM
Avi Lewis

Associate Professor of Geography at UBC, filmmaker, climate activist.


Saturday, November 18


Economics for people and the planet

with Angella MacEwen

9:00 AM – 10:15 AM
Angella Macewen

Senior economist with the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), a policy fellow with the Broadbent Institute.


Housing assessment resource tools for progressively realizing the right to housing in Canada

with Carolyn Whitzman & Laura Murphy

10:45 AM – 12:00 PM
Carolyn Whitzman

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 is an Edmonton-based housing researcher.


Arts fueled social movements: a historical account

with Ahmed 'Knowmadic' Ali & Carissa Halton

10:45 AM – 12:00 PM
Ahmed Knowmadic Ali

Knowmadic is an Edmonton-based poet, writer, musician. Former Edmonton Poet Laureate.

Carissa Halton

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.



with John Vaillant

1:00 PM – 2:15 PM
John Vaillant

John Vaillant is an American-Canadian writer and journalist. He has written both non-fiction and fiction books including The Tiger, The Jaguar's Children, and most recently Fire Weather: The Making of a Beast.


Addiction/opioid crisis

with Heather Morris & Marliss Taylor

2:30 PM – 3:45 PM
Heather Morris

Postdoctoral Fellow in the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Alberta.

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.


Promises and perils of independent media

with Sharon J Riley & Jeremy Appel

2:30 PM – 3:45 PM
Sharon J Riley

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

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.


Intergenerational equity

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.


Health care crisis

with Lorian Hardcastle & Rebecca Graff-McRae

10:30 AM – 11:45 AM
Lorian Hardcastle

Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Calgary, with a joint appointment to the Department of Community Health Sciences in the Cumming School of Medicine.

Rebecca Graff-McRae

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.



with Dave Meslin Emma Jackson

10:30 AM – 11:45 AM
Dave Meslin

Dave Meslin is a renowned urbanist, community organizer, and author of the bestselling book Teardown: Rebuilding Democracy from the Ground Up -- described as a “handbook of democratic solutions.”

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, 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.


What can reconciliation look like

with Lewis Cardinal

12:15 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, earning a PhD in Indigenous Education, afterwards teaching in the Department of Educational 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.