We apologize for our tardiness in getting the conference review up on the website. We wanted to make sure that we had all of the presentations so that we could pass them on to you!
Our 2015 Conference was held over November 27 and 28th. We had a traditional First Nations opening and welcoming as we held the conference on unceded Coast Salish Territory. Henry Charles welcomed the conference attendees and wished us well as we carried out our work.
After the opening, we began with a presentation from former Interim Alberta Premier, who was the minister of Human Services during the formation of Alberta’s social policy framework (SPF). According to Hancock, “social services is where money goes to die” and the Alberta government was looking to control costs while at the same time getting better outcomes for the money it did spend. During the consultation phases of Alberta’s SPF engagement, they made contact with a staggering 34,000 Albertans. As they wanted to ensure broad engagement the government went out to small communities, provided grants for individuals to hold their own meetings, targeted certain groups like First Nations and engaged with chambers of commerce, and other business groups. Hancock believes that a good SPF “marries social justice and social policy.” The SPF was implemented under former Premier Alison Redford. However, it remains to be seen what will happen with the new Rachel Notley NDP government.
Next up we had a panel looking at Board Voice Key Initiatives. The panel was comprised of:
- Making a Difference Cowichan: How boards can make a difference in their communities – Leslie Welin and Michelle Staples, Councillor, Duncan City Council
- Board Voice in Action – Influencing the influencers – the next phase for Social Policy Framework – Michael Davis, Board Voice Chair, Family Services of Greater Vancouver Board member.
- C. Social Report – Bill McMichael, Board Voice and Pacific Community Resources Society board member
This panel looked at what Board Voice has been up to over the past year. It was a great discussion that demonstrated the commitment and broad-based advocacy Board Voice supports.
The second key-note began after lunch and featured Dr. Trevor Hancock looking at “Putting people first: Human and social development as if people mattered.” Dr. Hancock has several key questions that seek to centre us on what really matters: people. This was a very rich presentation focusing on things that really matter, like the environment, pointing out that it is more than climate change but rather atmospheric change, resource depletion, pollution and ecotoxicity and a loss of species and biodiversity. He argues for an ‘eco-social’ approach that would involve ecological social change. According to Dr. Hancock, “most of the major determinants of health lie beyond health care” acknowledging that “local living and working conditions are very important.” This presentation was cited by conference participants as one of the most inspirational.
The second presentation of the afternoon was a look at Sustainability and Innovation in the Social Sector anyway? Myths, truths, and approaches to community based social services for this year, next year, and beyond by Mark Sieben – Deputy Minister of Ministry of Children and Family Development. Sieben looked at these issues as a government insider and provided valuable insight.
On Saturday morning we had a great municipal panel that featured:
- Lisa Helps, Mayor of Victoria
- Andrea Reimer, Deputy Mayor, City of Vancouver
- Al Richmond, President, UBCM from South Cariboo
- Michelle Staples, Councillor, Duncan
Each of the panelists discussed social planning from the perspective of their municipality and/or organization. This was a very dynamic and one of the most popular segments of our conference. There were some key take-aways:
- Great social policy needs a champion. You have a choice to either replace the leader (not always possible) or support your leader to ‘do better’.
- Increase well-being and create a habitat for happiness.
- We need to recognize that First Nations are experts and we must be prepared to listen and go very slowly.
Friday Keynote by Trevor Hancock:
Social Reports and a Social Policy Framework – Getting involved in making these tools reality in B.C. Facilitator: Michael Davis, Partner and Managing Director of Reputations and Chair of Board Voice
Excellence in Board governance – Bridging the Gap between Theory and Practice Facilitator: Dr. Vic Murray, Adjunct Professor, School of Public Administration, University of Victoria
Social Innovation, Resilience and Reconciliation Facilitator: David Stevenson, Executive Director, Partnerships and Community Renewal Division, Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation
Becoming a ‘Leadership’ board Facilitator: Mark Friesen, Consulting Manager, Vantage Point