Dear conference participants and supporters,
Welcome to Parkland’s 24th annual fall conference, titled “After the Contagions.” The institute has long prided itself on addressing topics that are current and vitally important to the economic, political and social health of Albertans and Canadians at large. In that sense, this year is no different. But in a very real sense, of course, things are different. Besides being online, we have also changed the usual format of individual plenary talks interspersed with session panels to one featuring five consecutive nights of prominent speakers on the theme, a Saturday afternoon discussion of events in Alberta, and a virtual celebration that evening.
1789. 1917. The years stand out as when a constellation of events set the world on a dramatically different course. The year 2020 bears all the hallmarks of a similarly revolutionary moment. Neo-liberalism’s morbid economic, social, environmental and political symptoms were already obvious as 2019 ended. The deadly contagions moved beyond metaphor, however, as the new year began, with the slow then quick rise of Covid-19. Within months, infections and deaths mounted, spreading fear, anger and recrimination across the globe. As economies shed jobs, the role and power of government increased. But, as always, the pandemic impacted communities differently – unequally – and so too rose increased calls for real social justice by groups long marginalized by race, gender, sexual orientation and class. Awash in a sea of contagions, the world is embarking on a journey whose outcome is far from certain. We know only that things will not – must not – go back to the way they were before.
Parkland Institute’s 2020 conference attempts to navigate these complex waters. It brings together speakers looking at the complex of environmental, medical, racial, economic, political and other contagions that created this moment – and, more importantly, what must be done to construct a post-Covid world that is more just, more democratic, and more sustainable than the one being left behind.
As in the past, this conference provides the opportunity to meet new people and catch up on old friendships – albeit virtually – and we hope it will inform you and inspire you to act. Parkland relies on contributions from you, and people like you, to thrive. Please renew your Parkland membership and make a donation so Parkland can continue to make a difference. Feel free to contact me to discuss your concerns and insights. And, finally, stay safe!
Warm regards to all,
Director and co-founder,