U of A campus & Livestream • November 17–19, 2023

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Building the Future We Need

Hope Transformation and Action

November 19-21, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed and exacerbated many of the world's problems. Even as the COVID-19 crisis evolves, we must return our attention to those issues. We also face the challenges of tackling the climate crisis, addressing growing inequality and racism, and impending government austerity. But there is an urgent desire for transformation and action to address systemic issues and the ongoing legacy of racism and colonialism that sparked Black Lives Matter and the decolonization movement. We must seize this opportunity to transform the social and economic structures of Alberta and our world to build a more just, more sustainable society. “Building back better” is not enough. We can and must begin to build the kind of future we need. Parkland Institute 2021 annual conference explored how to build that future.

Parkland Institute's 25th annual conference was held online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thanks to our wonderful sponsors, the conference was free for current Parkland Institute supporters who have contributed $500 this year or more.

Watch the sessions on Parkland Institute's YouTube channel.


Keynote Presenters

Dr. Pamela Palmater
Working Together to Save our Peoples and the Planet

Right-wing extremism, white supremacy, and corporate greed all work together on a global level to privilege the few and exclude the many. Governments and trans-national corporations work in tandem to control access to and profit from life-sustaining resources in the endless pursuit of power and wealth, with devastating consequences for peoples and the planet. Now more than ever, our communities must work together to ensure the health, safety and well-being of our families and help address the current climate crisis. It's only by working together, across multiple intersectionalities, that we can save our peoples and the planet from further destruction.

Saturday Sessions

Doughnut Economics for Thriving Communities
with Kate Raworth and Ben Geselbracht

Doughnut Economics seeks to create 21st-century economies that meet the needs of all people within the means of the living planet – so what would it look like to aim to get there? Join this session and discussion to explore new economic thinking of regenerative and distributive design, from principles to practice. Kate Raworth, author of Doughnut Economics, introduced the core concepts of the approach, including how it can be downscaled to a town, city or province, and Coun. Ben Gesselbracht talked about how these concepts are currently being put into practice in the city of Nanaimo.

Changing Work, for Good, After COVID
with Jim Stanford

The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in an unprecedented economic catastrophe: entire sections of the economy were deliberately shut down to protect health, and unemployment soared to Depression-like levels. Recovering from this catastrophe will require years of economic and social rebuilding, that must inevitably be led by government: with its unmatched financial resources, planning capacity, and regulatory and social authority. It will take years to recreate decent work for Canadians who saw their livelihoods evaporate. As we rebuild the quantity of work, however, we must also improve the quality of work: its safety, fairness, and sustainability.

Long-standing fault lines in Canada’s labour market were brutally exposed by the pandemic. Repairing those structural failings is essential for reconstructing the national economy on a sustained basis. Reforming work is not just a moral imperative: something we desire, because we would like a fairer and more inclusive labour market. It is also an economic necessity: put simply, Canada’s economy will not be able to function successfully after the pandemic, without focused and powerful efforts to fix these long-standing problems in the world of work. This presentation identified 10 concrete ways that work must change for good after the pandemic.

Still Hopeful: Intergenerational Dialogue on Climate Activism and our Future
with Maude Barlow

Maude Barlow discussed her new book (released in March 2022) called Still Hopeful: Lessons from a Lifetime of Activism with two young Canadian climate activists.

This intergenerational dialogue explored the vital role that hope plays in activism and the many lessons learned from one of Canada's most prominent activists for people and the planet. The young climate activists talked about their own inspiring activism at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow Scotland, and reflect on how youth are engaging in the democratic process and advocating to build the future we need.

Sunday Sessions

Why we should all be activists: What Haudenosaunee philosophy can teach us about our responsibility to the Earth
with Alicia Elliott

It seems that every week another scientific study comes out telling us climate change apocalypse is imminent. Latest estimates put us at 2050 – a short 30 years from now. But to look at the decisions Canadian politicians are making on behalf of the entire country, you wouldn’t be able to tell. In this talk, Alicia Elliott led us through the history of Haudenosaunee philosophy and literature to examine the nature of activism, and who is considered dangerous “activists” in a post-Oka, post-Caledonia Canada. How is an Indigenous person’s free speech impacted when practicing their culture, when merely existing is considered an impediment to national “progress?” From there, Elliott examined what the role of a government actually is. In our post-capitalist society, is government’s responsibility to the people it governs, or is it to capital? What do we lose by allowing one over the other? And what would happen if we all decided that a person’s responsibility isn’t only to themselves and their families, or even to the government of Canada, but also to the Earth upon which all of us depend? Maybe the time has come, Elliott argued, for all of us to be activists.