COVID Signpost 100 Days: Spotlight on the Prairies and the North

Hosted by Michael Redhead Champagne, Public Speaker & Youth Mentor, CUI Regional Lead, Winnipeg, MB. Featuring Rebecca Alty, Mayor, Yellowknife, Markus Chambers, Deputy Mayor, Winnipeg, Mark Head & Christopher Clacio, Inter Civics Commons, Pamela Goulden-McLeod, Director of Emergency Management Service, City of Saskatoon.

5 Key

A roundup of the most compelling ideas, themes and quotes from this candid conversation

1. This pandemic has proved how necessary civic engagement is.

Whether it be by offering community-based resources or holding lawmakers accountable, people in cities across Canada must be actively involved in the governance process. Christoper Clacio and Mark Head engage with this notion on a daily basis through their work with Inter Civics; however, this has been made difficult by the impossibility of face-to-face interaction. Communities can make their needs clear by engaging with other organizations and with those in positions of authority.

2. Creative thinking and innovative solutions are needed now more than ever.

Lawmakers, businesses, and communities alike have demonstrated immense creativity over the past 100 days, and this momentum must continue. Rebecca Alty, the mayor of Yellowknife, offers examples of this creativity in Yellowknife’s decisions to stagger landfill openings in order to preserve salvaging culture, and how local spas have begun offering digital facials by mailing their clients materials.

3. Long-term planning, both financial and urban, must factor into continuity and risk management.

The past 100 days of the COVID pandemic have proved that the unknown is absolutely a possibility. More importantly, however, is how this pandemic has revealed what planners, builders, and lawmakers are truly capable of. It is more sustainable to adapt thought-out support measures than to indefinitely extend emergency response measures. This way, even the most vulnerable are protected no matter the circumstance. That said, when things remain uncertain, Pamela Goulden-McLeod highlighted the necessity to “build back better.”

4. We are all in this together: municipalities should find ways to collaborate.

Whether it be expanding the boundaries for urban policy practice or engaging in collaborative city building across regions, now is the time for collective innovations. Pamela Goulden-McLeod emphasized how the pandemic has revealed the long-term necessity of establishing relationships across networks and agencies so that no one must fend for themselves. This need for collaboration is stressed further in “For The Benefit of All”, a 2019 report by Dr. Robert Murray which examines the need for collaboration in the Winnipeg Metro Region municipalities.

5. The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the powerful role of mental health and wellbeing.

Many of our panelists stressed the mental toll caused by distancing regulations, the pandemic, and a financial crisis. People are unable to seek assistance and grieve collectively in ways previously available. Adjusting to the “new normal” from the confines of your own home is deeply isolating. As cities look ahead to empowering their communities, they must consider how to help those whose mental wellbeing are at stake.

Full Panel

Note to readers: This video session was transcribed using auto-transcribing software. Manual editing was undertaken in an effort to improve readability and clarity. Questions or concerns with the transcription can be directed to with “transcription” in the subject line. 

Michael Redhead Champagne [00:00:38] All right, ladies and gentlemen, good morning. Good afternoon. Depending on where you are. Happy Friday. Thank you very much, everybody, for tuning in today. My name is Michael Redhead Champagne, and I’m joining you today live from Treaty One Territory, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Winnipeg’s North End. Today, I’m excited to welcome you all on behalf of Canadian Urban Institute’s Spotlight on COVID100 in our country, 100 days after the World Health Organization has declared this pandemic. And so today what we’re doing is we’re having a spotlight on the prairies in the north. We have a number of folks that are joining us from a number of different places across this vast expanse. Before we get started and introducing folks once again, my name is Michael Redhead Champagne, and I’m a regional lead with Canadian Urban Institute and I am a community organizer, a public speaker and a mentor to young people here in Winnipeg. The work that we’re going to be doing today and the conversation we’re going to be having together is related to the work that we’re all doing in our different corners of the worlds, different pieces of municipalities. And we have a superstar team of folks that are assembled here today. I want to draw everyone’s attention before we get started. Anybody who’s watching. Take a look at It’s the website for Canadian Urban Institute talking about all of the stuff today. There’s a few things I want you folks to check out that has been released about what’s out there. It is. It’s in the chat there. You can take a look at the COVID100 website in which there will be details about all of the topics that have been happening today, but also a really neat feature called One Hundred Actions. So I want you to take a look at that. And actions have been pulled from some of the work that Canadian Urban Institute has been doing in connecting with different municipal leaders and learning from folks about how we’ve been responding to COVID-19. So please take a look at the One Hundred actions. And there’s also the report that I want to point out. But that’s my technical stuff that I needed to get get informed for all of you as we get started. And our hashtag, of course, for the festivities today is #COVID100. So if anybody wants to follow along and have a conversation with any of us on social media, please do so. Joining us today on our panel, I will introduce your name and I will let you introduce yourself in the way that you would like to for about a minute, and then we’ll get started. So the very first person I’d like to introduce is Rebecca Alty. She’s the mayor of Yellowknife and she’s going to be joining us a little bit lady, a little bit later. And so folks are please don’t be surprised when all of a sudden we have Yellowknife’s mayor jumping on the call. Next, I’d like to acknowledge and welcome Pamela Goulden-McCleod, the director of Emergency Management Services at the city of Saskatoon. Welcome.


Pamela Goulden-McLeod [00:03:35] Hello, everyone. And I’m very excited to be here and very excited be part of this conversation. And when someone said it was, you know, 100 days since WHO declared a pandemic we’re in Saskatoon, we talk about COVID time, and it seems to be a little different, COVID time moves much faster than regular time. And, you know, in my role, I work with our internal City of Saskatoon supports and our external critical infrastructures and all of the sectors that are responding to COVID. And like every other community, everyone is responding to COVID, that there is nobody who is not impacted by this. So I’m looking forward to being part of this discussion. Thank you very much, Michael.


Michael Redhead Champagne [00:04:18] Thank you so much. I also want to welcome Markus Chambers, city councilor here in Winnipeg. Recently was the Deputy Mayor, recently appointed to the Winnipeg Police Board, among many other things. Markus Chambers, welcome.


Markus Chambers [00:04:32] Good afternoon. I’m so honoured and excited to be part of the discussions today as a newly-elected councilor, that I’ve been here now since 2018, to be part of this pandemic where we’ve now seen quite a shift in terms of our traditional roles in the community as city councilors or elected leaders, how that’s changed and how we’ve had to overcome so many different obstacles, even in the normal course of governance and providing services for our citizens. So it’s been a very interesting time. It’s been a very much a time of learning. And it’ll be interesting how how history writes, how responsive Canada and each of our provinces and cities have been through this time of crisis. So I’m I’m very interested in furthering the discussion this afternoon. And I look forward to everybody’s input today and how I can bring that back to my council members.


Michael Redhead Champagne [00:05:38] Thank you so much, Marcus. I also want to introduce a duo, a dynamic duo that we have right here from Winnipeg: Mark Head and Christopher Clacio from Inter Civics. Rock, Paper, Scissors, who wants to introduce themselves first?


Christopher Clacio [00:05:53] Mark do the honours.


Mark Head [00:05:55] Ah, thank you. Yeah, my name is Mark Head. I am a I would say more like a helper, like I guess, translation for that word, it means a volunteer. So I’m a person who who helps the community or helps groups whenever they you know, whenever they need it. But I’m also very excited about this this webinar on this specific topic and sort of sharing our civics perspective of it. Right. And I look forward to hearing a lot of fruitfulness from this from this webinar. Chris, take it away.


Christopher Clacio [00:06:38] Thanks, Mark. And Chris Clacio, a helper in the community just like Mark. But I also ran as a school trustee back in 2014 and actually tried running as mayor of Winnipeg in 2018. And so civics is a passion of mine and just want to learn and engage more citizens. I think that’s one of the things that I feel like COVID-19 has taught us is after it’s all done is how do we communicate City Hall and citizens. That’s my big concern.


Michael Redhead Champagne [00:07:11] Thank you so much to all of you for being here. Thank you. Shout out to all of our viewers right now that are participating and watching us on the webinar and participating on social media. So I want to get started with a very broad question. I know that COVID-19, has it’s been 100 days. It’s been 100. days. And it has affected all of us very, very differently. And I know that the. Oh, thank you very much. I see. One of the comments or says hello from Toronto. Anyone who’s watching right now, send in the comments where you watching from so that we have an idea of the regional perspectives that folks are kind of tuning into. Who loves the prairies? Who loves the north? Tell us where you’re from. Anyway, I’d like to just give folks an opportunity to say um a little bit about briefly what your work was and how it has been altered very dramatically, I would imagine, by COVID-19. I know that for myself I’m a public speaker and a community organizer, a lot of the stuff I did with bringing groups together and trying to hash things out together have not been able to do that with COVID-19 so I’ve become Zoom, Zoom, Zoom, Zoom, Zoom, Zoom, Zoom everyday. And so that’s been a big change for me. But it’s the adaptation that I had to make. So what I’ll do is I’ll pass it to I guess I’ll just pick on people. Maybe I’ll take on Pam first. Pamela, all right, letting us know a little bit about what is your work and how has it changed since COVID-19 has come into this situation for you?


Pamela Goulden-McLeod [00:08:48] So I think, you know, I’m a director of Emergency Management for the City of Saskatoon so my normal job is responding to complex and escalating emergencies and building plans and building partnerships to help us respond to emergency situations. So I think I’m one of the few people that this is my work, this is what we normally do, but how we’ve done it is different this time. Normally, when we talk about emergency management, you know, we talk about our emergency operation centers and those are typically big rooms with lots of computers and lots of people having conversations and working together on incident command structure. And of course, that’s not doable in this. You know, we we started out that way. But now, like many people, we’re working from home and we are having to adjust to use technology. And that’s been a big change for us and it’s been a really positive change. One of the things we know in emergency management is when emergency situations happen or disasters, we want to build back better and we want to look at, you know, how can we learn from what we’ve done and come out stronger. And I think in so many ways during COVID, our community will come out of this stronger, deeply impacted, and there will be long-term impacts, but we’ve learned a lot. I think one of the things that that we’ve adapted is, you know, who who’s involved in emergency response. And so in the last 5-10 years in emergency management, it’s really moved from the people in uniform solving all the problems to a whole-community approach. And when I came into that, this role that was one of the biggest and most important tasks I found was, you know, who hasn’t been part of it and who do we have to include. And so we’ve luckily built relationships with our business partners and with other community members. And of course, residents are always at the forefront of this. But I think, you know, one of the adaptations we’ve made is we have engaged sectors that haven’t traditionally been involved with emergency management and we will continue to engage with those sectors as we come out of this. And so that adaptation has been important for us. And I think it comes down to relationships and we are continuing to develop those relationships throughout this event. And I think in Saskatoon, we’re lucky in that we’re two degrees of separation away from anybody in Saskatoon. And so if there was a sector that we weren’t connected with, we were about one person away from getting strongly connected with that sector. And so I think that’s been a significant adaptation for us when we look at our EOC, normally you look around in emergency operations center, you see a lot of people with law bars and stripes on their shoulders. And when I think about this response, what I see is a lot of people who have been engaged in a different way in this work and who are essential moving forward and will always be part of our emergency management now going forward. So those are our big adaptations and we’ve, my family’s had to adapt, I think all of our families have, to having me home and around. And my biggest concern coming out of is I have a three year-old lab who is now used to me being home all the time and when I’m not home all the time, it’ll be interesting to see how he adjusts so.


Michael Redhead Champagne [00:12:03] Well, thank you so much, Pamela. That’s super helpful to learn about all the great stuff that’s happening. I also noticed Rebecca Alty has joined us. Rebecca, I just want to take a moment and welcome you. Thank you so much for joining us I believe all the way from Yellowknife, since that’s where you’re the mayor. Do you want to maybe take a minute and just introduce yourself to folks?


Rebecca Alty [00:12:26] Yes. Thank you. And sorry for the delays or the tardiness for arriving, but the back-to-back Zoom calls. So my name’s Rebecca, I’m the mayor of Yellowknife. We’re located on Chief Drygeese territory, home of the Yellowknive Dene First Nation. And yeah, looking forward to hearing from others. And I can’t believe it’s one hundred days into COVID and it feels like it’s been years. I can’t remember February. But at the same time, I can. Yeah, we we’ve definitely had some interesting challenges, opportunities and looking forward to the discussion. Thanks for having me.


Michael Redhead Champagne [00:13:05] Thank you so much for being here. I guess basically the question that we’re at right now, Pamela was able to answer it first, about what was before work for COVID and how has it changed. So maybe I’ll move to Markus next, maybe tell us a little bit about what’s happening at the city of Winnipeg level. Has COVID-19 changed everything for you or what’s happening in your world?


Markus Chambers [00:13:28] Yes, certainly. When the World Health Organization announced the global pandemic, the city of Winnipeg was in the midst of passing its four year multi-year budget. And I had taken a bit of vacation time just before we were to engage in our departmental or standing policy committee discussions. And while I was away, of course, the World Health Organization did announce and I received messages and calls from our mayors saying that everything had changed. Up until that point, Manitoba did not have any confirmed cases. And I believe it was on March 12th where we had our first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the province. And it really changed the course of history for for us going forward. If can say historically going forward. But, yes, it’s certainly in terms of the discussions that we had to have that reflected what our budget would be, not knowing at that point in time what the impacts would be in terms of how long businesses, schools would would have to be closed, what the impacts would be to our citizens. And again, since the isolation or self-isolation has started and the social distancing, it’s really had an impact on our mental health. I would say if everybody had such a strong sense of isolation, especially for our seniors, we’ve had to go through, personally, my mother-in-law was in hospital and has now left hospital and is now in a senior’s home and had to go through a week sorry, two weeks of self-isolation before she was able to even roam around in her seniors facility. So again, that that whole self sense of self-isolation and and not being able to be in the public domain has had quite an impact on on individuals. It’s had an impact obvious on businesses. Now, as we’re starting to ease those restrictions from a provincial health directive, there’s still the sense of social distancing that’s required to ensure that we’re not spreading the virus. We’ve there’s been so much change that’s happened over the last even the last three weeks. We had here in the city of Winnipeg a rally on the Black Lives Movement two weeks ago today. Thankfully, there have not been any cases, new cases directly related to the rally that took place where over 20,000 people participated.


Michael Redhead Champagne [00:16:15]  I was going to say, isn’t that like 20000 people and no confirmed cases?


Markus Chambers [00:16:20] No confirmed cases out of that. So Manitoba has been very lucky. It has been a result of the citizens here taking this very seriously and doing their part to self-isolate, to use hand sanitizers, to social distance. So we’ve been very fortunate. So hopefully as we’re moving forward, we can be one of the provinces that’ll be the shining light that shows and demonstrates what happens when people are following the provincial health orders and being socially responsible.


Michael Redhead Champagne [00:16:55] Thank you so much, Marcus. That’s really helpful for us to have that understanding of what’s happening at the municipal level right in Winnipeg and things are different. Mark, maybe I’ll ask you first to tell us a little bit about what is Inter Civics? And then maybe we’ll go to Chris for answering the part about how has COVID-19 changed everything?


Mark Head [00:17:18] Oh, OK.


Michael Redhead Champagne [00:17:20] Or you guys can switch. I mean, answer both if you want.


Mark Head [00:17:25] We’ll do it what you would. What’s your feeling on that, Chris? What should I do? Or should we split it or say it?


Christopher Clacio [00:17:35] Mark, I think it. The idea of Inter Civics actually came from Mark. I joined in afterwards. I think he should have first in what Inter Civics is and I can add to the discussion on what Inter Civics is.


Michael Redhead Champagne [00:17:48] And how it’s changed from COVID.


Mark Head [00:17:50] Right. Right. OK, well Inter Civics, super briefly. It does say this was born from observations of conversations and groups and. And mainly those type those two things. I noticed that a lot of people knew a lot about issues and specifically politics, right. But they didn’t know necessarily how beyond sort of the very bare minimum basics of what governance is like, right, civics and all that. And. And so, I kind of saw that I kind of saw that blind spot and I thought, well, maybe it’s time to sort of, you know, somebody should at least try to fill it. And so I took it and and from that, I. I kind of wanted to sort of like sort of wanted to advocate, sort of like the basics of civics. But then it kind of grew into, as I had more conversations with people and Winnipeggers, that, you know, it should be something more. And I think that starting out, it was meeting a lot of people and asking kind of like feeling the pulse of like, you know, what is their knowledge that they know of? You know, what civics and what politics are and the differences, you know, asking those questions, right. It was very gradual and kind of so I thought, OK, well, I don’t want to sort of determine, you know, right away what this should be. I think I should sort of kind of build on these conversations and sort of like defined Inter Civics that way. And so far, it’s kind of what it has kind of come to now is, Inter Civics is a group that looks at citizenship, that looks at services, it looks at solutions, it looks at.


Michael Redhead Champagne [00:19:49] So building people’s system literacy and how to understand how municipal things operate, basically.


Mark Head [00:19:54] Basically, yeah, it’s still evolving and kind of that’s where we’re at. Thank you for that. Much quicker for me. Yeah. That’s what that is right now. Again, still evolving. Chris, what how does this impact…?


Christopher Clacio [00:20:10] And just to go back on what Mark was saying, Inter Civics comes from two words inter, interdependence and civics interdependence means, in our understanding, is how the city services match city administration with city councilors and with the mayor system. So things like how does governance work interchangeable, interchangeably and how they depend on one another. And as well, citizen engagement and the things that has changed for me and Mark, as does lack of meeting face-to-face with citizens and the lack of supporting local businesses. I usually met with city clerks in Grace Cafe at City Hall to talk about what does civics look like in in this city. And so it’s been a frustration for me and Mark to connect person-to-person and to learn and build a strong relationship within the community on that topic. So one of our frustrations is the lack of person-to-person relationship-building and the support of local businesses in the community.


Michael Redhead Champagne [00:21:27] Thank you so much. That’s why I really love the work that you, Chris and Mark both do. The activity is all happening locally-owned businesses. And I think that’s really fantastic to be supporting our local businesses even if we don’t get that much money. Rebecca, maybe you move to you now and ask you the same general question about how has COVID-19 affected you. And, you know, I mean, obviously, you can’t speak for the entire north, but you can maybe let us know insight into how Yellowknife has been affected and how things have changed for you.


Rebecca Alty [00:22:01] For sure, and I was just talking to the mayor of Whitehorse over in the Yukon yesterday so we were sharing a lot of similarities. So we’ve been fortunate in that we you know, we had a very quick and aggressive response right from the start from the territorial government, which is the lead department or the lead government. So we’ve actually only had three cases of COVID in Yellowknife. The first was on March 21st. The last was on April 5th. And everybody had recovered by April 20th. And of those three, nobody required hospitalization. But again, it came because of the quick border closure. So only residents from the Northwest Territories could come in. Businesses were really proactive in shutting down and trying to go into those online platforms and getting creative. But it’s an unequal hurt. There’s definitely businesses who are in the PPE business who can barely keep up. There’s the construction businesses now that are putting up all the sneeze guards. But we had a growing and booming tourism economy, particularly more so in the winter with northern lights, are big countries that visit our, or Canada, but also Japan and China. So now with international travel down, the hospitality businesses will really will really struggle because our population is 20,000 here. We are anticipating about 128,000 tourists to come through, so to try to make up that difference is it’s a pretty big shop-local-buy-local campaign that we’re we’re working on. So this so businesses were also really creative. You know, there is a spa in town that was doing online facials or she would drop off the products and then you would do a Zoom and she would tell you how to apply it. So I thought there was a lot of creativity in that. From a government, again, it’s it’s easy to shut down and it’s quite challenging to reopen. And so we’re now in phase two of four in the Northwest Territories. And so we can open stuff like our our field house where we play soccer and the walking track. But we do need all those all those measures in place. And we’re looking at creative ways to to deliver our services. So stuff like arenas won’t really be allowed to be open until phase four, which is when a sufficient part of the population in the Northwest Territories has been vaccinated, which impacts hockey. And so, yes, we’re a northern city and we’re going to strive to put out a few more outdoor rinks. But trying to get the kids up for hockey on a Saturday at 9:00a.m. and it’s -40 is going to be a challenge. So, you know, we’re looking at what are those creative ways? It’s it’s also, you know, we’re really jumping into the digital age. We we did do a lot of stuff online as the city, our council meetings were already webcast. So now we’re doing them by Zoom. But we’ve got that digital divide and when I think of the National Indigenous People’s Day is on Sunday and generally we have a great, great fish fry and celebration here in our our city hall. And that can’t happen this year. And and Canada Day can’t happen. And so, you know, you try to do these virtual events, but we offer free Wi-Fi here at City Hall out on the lawns. And so it’s it was definitely getting pretty tough in April because we’re still still pretty cold then. And it’s not like you’re going to sit outside in the snow and go on your Wi-Fi. Now that it’s summer and it’s nice, I think it’s we’ve had some of these restrictions lifted where we’re all kind of exhaling. But the second and third wave coming and it being, you know, in the dead of winter, I think will be quite a challenge. So these restrictions are put in place to eliminate COVID. But the flip side is that the mental and physical health of residents is is quite the challenge that we’re gonna have to have to consider. And it’s been interesting to see, you know, quickly we’re getting the feedback from residents when stuff has been getting shut down and I would say our our number one facility is our solid waste facility, the dump, just nonstop e-mails asking when’s it opening, when’s it opening? And here in Yellowknife, we have a salvaging culture so you are allowed to go to the dump and pick up something that was trash to one but it’s a treasure to you. And that can’t happen right now because the virus can last for 72 hours. So we are still thinking of ways of, OK, what about if this cell is the 72 hours and you kind of rotate? So now you can salvage in this area. So lots of so much creative thinking on on how can we live in this new norm?


Michael Redhead Champagne [00:26:59] Yeah. Well, thank you so much. One of the things that I absolutely love about COVID-19, what am I saying? One of the things I love about this is it has revealed at a municipal, provincial and federal level the capacity that our governments have to respond to crises when they believe that something is a crisis. Now, for me, I’m First Nations, I’m from Shamattawa in northern Manitoba. I work a lot with folks in the child welfare system and in Winnipeg, we have, and Manitoba, we have a problem where there’s an over apprehension with child welfare often related to poverty. And this concept of family separation not only plays out in child welfare, it also plays out oftentimes in health when people are seeking support for mental health or addictions. And it also plays out often in justice and policing. And so I know that in Winnipeg tonight, there is a rally for Aisha hudson, the 16 year-old woman, Indigenous young woman who lost her life to Winnipeg police after an incident at the liquor store. So these are very difficult and pressing times. And I know that the community, it was hard for us not to be able to come and support Aisha’s family when that initially happened. But there’s an opportunity tonight for Winnipeg to come together. And so I say all of this because what excuses that used to be given have fallen away. What have we learned from our municipalities or from levels of government that all of a sudden if we can do it now, I feel like we’ve revealed our capacity to be able to do that at all times, to take care of our relatives who sleep outside, to take care of kids that are dealing with poverty. So maybe anyway, that’s a little bit of a rant. Apologies, but maybe we’ll move to Pamela and then ask you if you have any concrete lessons that you think you’ve learned that you wish others would be able to implement.


Pamela Goulden-McLeod [00:29:02] You know, I think one of them, it is that, you know, in emergency management, that disasters and emergency events disproportionately impact those who are marginalized or those who are living in poverty in particular. And, you know, we as soon as we realize the impact in Saskatoon, we realized that our residents who are living in poverty are those who are facing housing issues are so disproportionately impacted by this. It’s very easy for me to sit here and self-isolate in my suburban home. And, you know, with all the resources I have. But for those who are homeless, for those who are who are struggling, that is a far different thing. And so here in Saskatoon, we have a phenomenal group called the Inter-agency Response to COVID which is 50 of our community organizations who typically do this work. And they’ve come together and they’ve actually come together and one of our emergency management staff members Deb Davies, a shout out to anybody who knows Deb Davies, she has done phenomenal work. She has implemented an incident command structure at those 50 organizations. And I cannot say enough about what they’ve accomplished. They have all worked together. They have identified the needs of this group. They have resources in place. And, you know, I think when I think of what excuses, we have no excuses now that we can’t work together, that there are jurisdictional issues or that there are no siloed issues. We have to work together and we have done that in this situation, which means we can do it in easier time. If we can do it in the hard times, we can do it in easier times and we can let those silos fall away. We can let those jurisdiction issues fall away and we can figure out how do we build back, how do we do this better. And I think, again, we have been very lucky. And I and I hesitate to use the word “luck” because I don’t think it was luck, this Inter-agency Response to COVID, they worked together, they put differences aside and we have not had any diagnosed cases of COVID in our vulnerable population at this point in time. And, you know, we identified very quickly in emergency management that that was our biggest risk factor, that if COVID got into one of our homeless shelters, if they got into one of our food bank locations, that that the mitigation would be so much more difficult than if it got into another location where we can easily self-isolate, where we can easily physical distance. And so I think that’s our best excuse is, you know, we can’t work in silos. We didn’t work in silos in this situation. We work together. And going forward, that will never be an excuse again. We will always do it now.


Michael Redhead Champagne [00:31:48] Pamela, thank you so much. And I really, really love so much of what you said. Thank you for being so specific. Markus, yesterday of what Pamela shared sound exciting to you. And are there any lessons that Winnipeg has for the rest of the country?


Markus Chambers [00:32:02] Yeah, I mean, a lot of it really resonated with me. I mean, amidst the COVID environment that we were all faced with, I know for myself, the ward that I represent is one of the low-lying areas in the city of Winnipeg. So amongst the COVID environment, we were also dealing at one point with potential flooding along the Red River. So I had to operationalize dike building for some homes that were vulnerable along the along the river. And what does that look like in a corporate environment where you’re trying to procure volunteers to come out and assist you that can’t be more than six feet apart from each other and are, you know, schlepping sandbags back and forth to erect a dike. So it’s amazing that we can still accomplish a lot of what we did. Even though the provincial health directors were what they were. As the snow melted and as we moved into the spring and now summer months, summer, I believe is tomorrow, we have our encampments again, part of the city of Winnipeg and again, trying to monitor that from a safety perspective and ensuring that as people are are homeless and how we address the effects of homelessness and trying to find, you know, proper housing, low-barrier housing for individuals. And again, from a safety perspective, whether it’s fires that could could happen, whether it’s the spread of COVID that could happen. You know, these are the things that we still have to address as as a city government. So, again, a lot of what Pamela had had mentioned does resonate with me, that if we can do this during the time of COVID, we should be much more better prepared going forward when we can fully divert our attention and focus to the issues of the day.


Michael Redhead Champagne [00:34:06] Yes, Marcus. I’m happy you’re a city councilor in my city, makes me feel relieved.


Markus Chambers [00:34:11] Thank you.


Michael Redhead Champagne [00:34:12] So thank you for saying all of that. Mark, lessons. Inter Civics. What lesson what lessons have you folks learned in the work that you’ve been able to do or not been able to do that you’d like to share? What what would you like to see from your work maybe happening elsewhere?


Mark Head [00:34:35] Well, it’s all we have done was, I think very recent, late last year, we started to sort of because we took it out when I decided to go on a one year hiatus on it, but I brought it back. Breathed new life in it. And I was wanted to do things differently for this year to 2020. And what do you know it! The COVID-19 happened and so…


Michael Redhead Champagne [00:35:01] Be careful what you wish for because it’s really different!


Mark Head [00:35:02] Yes, it is. Ugh, I can’t even I can’t go out the door! So I was so, you know, with that, it brought the barriers to reaching out to people because I know I wanted to do a lot of it. The COVID has stopped me from from from meeting people face-to-face, definitely, because that was I really wanted to do more of that, getting out and meeting people. So what I’ve had to do and now me and Chris have had to do is to rely on the other techniques, like emailing, social media, phone calls, all of the non-face-to-face methods of communicating. It’s been hard. It’s it’s been super, super, super slow. I’m sure everybody feels that when it comes to even just work. Right?


Michael Redhead Champagne [00:35:55] So, like, what’s the success that you’ve had that you want other people, like, what do you do that you’d like to see elsewhere? Just…


Mark Head [00:36:03] I guess what we do is, is is I really like the concept of civic engagement, you know, meeting people that are not necessarily in established groups or organizations. And… I think meeting people like just whether you’re like somebody on the street, somebody in a public area, public square, and starting a conversation, creating that, creating those relationships. I think that’s a good, solid foundation where to start. And I think we need to do better at that. Not that like go back to the same old. “Hello, goodbye. See you later.” Or “see you maybe some of the day.” It’s like, you know, engaging them like…


Michael Redhead Champagne [00:36:47] Meaningful…


Mark Head [00:36:52] …Torontonian to Torontonian, you know, it’s I think it’s you do things a little differently, a little better in that regard and I think it’s very.


Michael Redhead Champagne [00:37:03] What I love about what you’re saying…


Mark Head [00:37:05] Pardon me?


Michael Redhead Champagne [00:37:05] What I love about what you’re saying, Mark, is there is a humanity in the way that you folks are approaching your work that I think sometimes is lacking in municipal structures and emergency response and leadership in times of crisis. And I really appreciate the emphasis on relationships and the humanity.


Mark Head [00:37:23] Yeah, yeah. I like you brought that up, like, too much, I think, in sort of the working world, there’s too much emphasis on professional development between human beings when we should start focus on human development between human beings, you know, and the way we do our work with each other. So it’s something that I think we have opportunity to to adapt to. So, yeah.


Michael Redhead Champagne [00:37:46] What about you, Chris? What are the… What do you wish? For the world?


Christopher Clacio [00:37:51] Going back to the things that me and Mark used to be involved in the community is like for example, Meet Me At The Bell Tower, which is a stop the violence rally that happens in the north end that hasn’t been able to happen because COVID-19 has made us separate each other from the elders and the key from the kids. And so building that rotation that has disappeared. And I want to see more of that coming out of COVID-19. We need more spaces of, safe spaces for young people during the evenings. Another example of that I find a beautiful humanitarian action is _______ at Meet Me At The Bell Tower who cooks for us for people with no access to food, have been getting used veggies and produce at our local No Frills. And so every Fridays, Wednesdays, and Mondays, they’ve been going to community spaces, handing out food to people who don’t have access to food security. So things like that. We need more supports for food banks. Yeah.


Michael Redhead Champagne [00:39:02] Wow. Thank you so much. That’s. Thank you. Marketing, Chris. It’s really great to have your perspective and I, on purpose, am happy to have you folks here, cause you’re not the usual kind of suspects. Not to say the rest of your usual suspects! But maybe I’ll stop talking and maybe go to Rebecca now and ask if maybe there are some lessons that Yellowknife has learned that they think the rest of the world needs to know a little bit about.


Rebecca Alty [00:39:26] That is just going everywhere after everybody’s comments so I’m trying to, like, figure out that one. I think the value of having your business continuity plan up to date. You know, I wouldn’t say many businesses, especially the small businesses in town, had one. And so at the municipal level, we’ve actually been working to update ours. Just it was in our work plan this year. Now, all of a sudden, you know, it wasn’t slated for March 2020, but it was going to wrap up by April or May. And so it is like boom accelerated. So as much as we all want to, we’ve seen really fast changes. The reason those have happened is because we’re working long hours. So that pace, it will be tough to keep up. So I think that question of what’s, you know, we can’t keep at this speed forever, but how can we bring it down but still be? I think that there’s a book about watching, so trying something and if it works going forward. So doing more of those risk management to see the likelihood and the consequence. And because we do get into analysis paralysis and not realizing that not doing anything has a consequence. And this is really show paralysis.


[00:40:53] I never heard of that before.


[00:40:55] Yeah, we love to just spin those circles and it’s just like, no, guys, let’s get out that risk registry. What’s the likelihood? What’s the consequence? Hey, let’s let’s try this little thing. There’s also been not at the municipal level, but at the territorial level, some pretty incredible pilot projects that have gone on like a managed alcohol program, which was 30 days. And the research is shown across Canada that it’s effective. And here in the north is like, yeah, we we should get going on that. And it was just like, boom, they did it. It was a good success. However, there was no continuity. So one of the challenges I see as is our budgets have gone into a lot of these emergency programs that had to be there. So what what’s gonna be left for these great programs that have shown value for the long? Terms, so it is it’s, I think, really shown us quickly. Maybe we’ll have different priorities in the future when it comes to budgeting and we’ll be able to make those those different decisions. So, so many different lessons. And I think the big one that I want to take away is also doing that debrief at the end to because we had some some interesting, you know, communication glitches between the different levels of government. And we’re finding stuff out through the media as opposed to the minister. And so having a good debrief and then setting up our systems so that they work better in the future.


[00:42:27] Yeah. Thank you so much and so happy. You mentioned systems because I think you’re. I love what you said, Rebecca, about how the pace that Cobbett has.


[00:42:41] Demanded of all of us. It’s not a sustainable picks. Late nights, weekends. All day. Every day.


[00:42:49] You know what I mean? And so it is not a sustainable pace. And that’s why we have to think about how do we systemize some of these things that have been working well. And I just wonder about municipal systems across the prairies and across the north that maybe don’t have such dynamic leadership as the folks that we have on this call today. I, I worry I worry about our relatives that are isolated or rural communities that maybe don’t have access to the same municipal structures and resources that we do.


[00:43:23] And I know that Lake Winnipeg has the Winnipeg kind of regional municipal kind of area all around where we kind of you know, we’ve got our little neighborhoods all around us and we take care of them and we give them water and stuff like that. Do you think that there’s a bigger role as we move forward? Do you think that there’s a bigger role for municipalities to kind of reach out kind of beyond? Or is that too? Am I asking now too much? I’ve noticed this. I see, Marcus.


[00:43:52] You know, and and Rebecca, you’ve raised a really good point there. And I think it’s incumbent in terms of municipal leadership.


[00:43:59] And I know that, you know, over the course of the last little while, as I sit on our our finance standing policy committee and some of the levers that we’ve utilized to to kind of offset the cost associated to to Kofod, we have an emergency relief fund that we’ve been that’s been accumulating over these last few years, our reserves. And just can’t emphasize enough the importance that a reserve fund provides in a situation like this, that we’re not living paycheck to paycheck, so to speak, as a municipal government that we have planned ahead and looked at contingencies should something like this arise. And just realizing how fragile ah ah ah economies are as a result of something like this, that that shuts down ah our businesses and shuts down our way of life. I wrote an article a little while ago just indicating that, you know, if it were a natural or a manmade disaster where people are tapping into insurance claims to rebuild and replenish what they’ve lost through, whether it’s a flood or fire or manmade a war, what have you, that it does stimulate the economy to some degree. But in this instance, all we’ve done is shut down our businesses. And as a result, some of our businesses may not be able to recover as a result, which leads to less revenue and less income for municipal government. So, again, it’s important to plan ahead, to be responsible in terms of how we proceed forward that as a municipal government. Again, we’re not living paycheck to paycheck.


[00:45:54] I see Pamela and also Rebecca. Maybe we’ll let you guys respond.


[00:46:00] Well, I think one of the things you referenced was that, you know, regional approached due to these type of events. And I think what we know is that all emergencies are local. They the impact is felt locally and and by individuals. But we’ve got to work together on that. And I think one of the things that Colbert has this is, you know what? We used to talk to people about their emergency kits and your emergency go kit, what you needed. We talked about need water. You need your medications. But what Culverts taught us and I think when you before but it’s really emphasized we need those relationships. And so one of the things we’ve talked about is, you know, for the individual, that means what are your social connections? Do you know your neighbors? Do you know the people around you who depends on you and who you depend on? That’s an essential part of an emergency kit for an individual. But I think on a regional level, that’s also an essential part of our emergency response, is our regional emergency response. How do we work together on this and how do we support those municipalities around us? You know, saskatoons, the largest municipality in Saskatchewan. And so we want to work closely with those those municipalities around us. And so we’ve developed regional partnerships and we’re in the process of building more of a regional partnership in emergency management. And this is emphasized that if we’re not working together on this, you know, buying PPE as an example, if you were buying up all the PPE, because Aston’s the biggest, we’re impacting our roads around us. And so how do we work together on that? And I think more and more what Colbert has taught us is that those processes, those procedures, those relationships are essential. And we’ve got to be doing that together. We can’t be doing that in isolation. And so, you know, we’ve looked at those regional partners and we’ve included them in our EOC, those smaller communities around us, because the better informed they are, the better they’re responding, the better it is for us to. That’s where lots of our staff live. That’s where our staff have their families. And so the better they’re prepared, the better. We’re all prepared. And so it goes beyond just, you know, making sure we look. It’s about how do we work together and how do we make sure we’re not opposing each other. And we’re all feeding the same information up to our provincial and federal partners as well. And same requests up.


[00:48:19] Pamela, that also makes you think a lot about how did you how support local businesses and think about things like social procurement policies that are, you know, possible to help direct municipal funds towards those local businesses or businesses that are owned by Indigenous folks with people of color. Anyway, I want to let Rebecca respond and then let’s give Bob Market, Chris, because we’re quickly running out of time. Oh, my goodness. Rebecca.


[00:48:45] Thanks. Yeah. No, I think this is really the relationship building between myself and the mayor’s particularly. There’s four other major cities. Yellowknife has half the population in the Northwest Territories, and then we have 32 other communities. And so I’m one of the only Full-Time mayors. And so all the other mayors and chiefs are part time. And so any resources that I can share and we’re not duplicating the resources I think’s important. And, you know, a little plug to Meniscal World’s Daily News is looking and seeing that we’re not alone. We’re all we’re all in this together and being like, yeah, no, we’re on the right track. This is what this what this jurisdiction’s doing. And Marcus, I was following along with your budget and because we had quite a quite a big issue coming forward to council. And so how are we going to deal with all people that want to come in and speak and as well, when pigs did this and they marked it out like that. So I think it’s really looking at other jurisdictions, other municipalities reaching out and sharing resources because we don’t have time in an emergency to be doing so much of the same work. So anytime we can share resources and I hope now to continue to build on that going into the future for for other things.


[00:50:06] Wow. Thank you so much. I think so much of this conversation is generating really great ideas. I would love to see implemented in different municipalities. I know often we have a pilot project syndrome. I don’t know if that’s a real thing, but it’s like where everything has to be a pilot project all the damn time. And we never actually learn from the pilot the project to change the system.


[00:50:31] So are there any promising practices that you’d like to highlight? And maybe what we’ll do is out with our final nine minutes. I’ll let each of you share your final thoughts and maybe we’ll start we’ll go with it, your civics, then we’ll do Marcus that Pamela finish Annishnabec,. So, InterCivic.


[00:50:55] Let me let me share my first two cents on the on this topic. And just talking about the WePay metro region, which is 16 different municipalities of the metro region of Winnipeg, I think we need to learn more about that. That that that model, because we do have that those 16, 18 mayors meeting up and talking about what. That we don’t plan is and you don’t you’d hardly hear about that topic being talked about during elections. And so learning more about the regional politics is very crucial in developing. I mean, this guy is going forward. And one of the resources that I think Metro organization, they have a report called The Benefit for All. So if you go on their website, you can find their report and it says their plans for going forward. So that’s a good resource to look at.


[00:51:57] I want to add to that.


[00:51:58] I would add that there is this I just found this sub last year, but I and I think it might be something that that other missing parolees may have or may not have but should be thinking about. And, you know, we often when we heard when The Cobh it first came out, we heard that that we we heard the the first, I guess, expert come forward from the province, which is called, I think the officer of health or the some. Yeah, something like that. Pardon me.


[00:52:31] The provincial health minister or director.


[00:52:36] Health Minister. OK. A public officer. Yep.


[00:52:40] And I’ve noticed that that that, you know, person is in charge of the whole province. And that’s including the city. But in my civics education, I looked under the city charter and I noticed that there is an unutilized person or utilized.


[00:53:01] Something that the city can do, city centric, like municipal centric, and that is, you know, it’s able to hire its own city focused on medical health officer or like we think that’s what’s called.


[00:53:16] Part of me is Shaw, who who’s our emergency measures director. So right now.


[00:53:26] How do you do you want to add something that, Chris?


[00:53:31] Oh, why didn’t we know about this earlier? That’s why I my frustrations about civic government is they should be educating as citizens about at key positions like that. So that’s just my own life.


[00:53:46] But now we know it and we cannot unknow it. So thank you very much, Mark and Chris. I mean, thank you, Marcus, for answering that. I want to give Marcus and Rebecca another opportunity as we quickly ran out of time to share any final thoughts they have. So maybe Marcus will go with you next.


[00:54:01] Well, again, Michael, you did mentioned earlier the, I guess, silver lining to Colvert and the fact that it’s been a tremendous learning opportunity. One of the things that I’ve noted as well is that, you know, as we’ve be some of the restrictions and others are still in place. It has allowed a lot of families to come together to kind of revert back to to a more simpler time. And what I mean by that is the use of our active transportation Trailways. So a lot more people have been using bicycle’s, have been walking, have been outdoors in open spaces and utilizing our active transportation Trailways, which has been fantastic. As a matter of fact, we’ve, as city councilors, worked towards extending the extension dates of our act to the act of transportation trailblazer that we’ve enhanced through Cauvin. So that’s been one of the, I guess, silver linings of this this recent pandemic phenomena. I guess in closing, the other part of it is that there are gray cup champion Winnipeg Blue Bombers will be champions again for another year and writing supreme over our rider fans to the west of us.


[00:55:21] Well. We’ll see what Powell have to say. So, yeah, Marcus took down the gantlet and you should know that my family has been longtime Ryders season ticket holders.


[00:55:34] My mom was a rider rep. We bleed green and white and we’ll take that challenge on. And I think I did note that the bombers needed to open their practice facility earlier than the other CFL teams. They just need a lot more practice to get up to the same level as the riders. So. But we’ll continue that conversation at some point. I think, you know, four final words. I think it was mentioned in the charts. But, you know, one of the things that, you know, has been referenced a lot is the mental health and wellness of our residents throughout this this crisis. And I think that’s something that for emergency management, we will always consider going forward. And one of the silver linings is we realize that that has to be part of our preparedness planning. That has to be part of our response. Planning is considering the traumatic impact on the mental health and wellness during emergency events. And we’ve definitely learned from that. And we’ve also seen I think it strikes me over and over again is the kindness and the way people reach out. And I think, you know, I think that’s the prairie. You know, maybe it’s Canadian, it’s prairie, definitely. It’s definitely here in Saskatoon. Is that constantly in our U.S., we have a sign that says, who are we missing and who isn’t included? And, you know, at one point I was a little worried about, you know, people who were self isolating, who were elderly and, you know, what was that I felt safe doing to them. So we did kind of a sector check of what was going on. And it was immediately evident that people who are worried about that, they put plans in place. There were lots of organizations reaching out, having conversations. And I think that, you know, going forward, I want to ensure that we continue that kindness, we continue that reaching out and that we continue to work together going forward. Except for those bomber fans, we won’t be working very closely with them. So but thank you very much, everybody. This has been a great, great conversation.


[00:57:30] Thank you so much, Pamela. Rebecca. You’ve got about a minute to share any final thoughts you have with our viewers.


[00:57:36] Perfect. I was just going to touch on Todd’s question about that, how to have that daily work life and anxiety and stuff. And I found I was about probably a month. I was going straight. I was so accessible. I was responding to everything on social media, emails, all that stuff, like trying to get it done within minutes. And then it was just, you know, you break down at one second. And then I was like, no, this is this isn’t this is a long this is a marathon. This isn’t a sprint. And so do I have to get back to this person within five minutes or can I take one hour to recharge? And I was making sure that I was getting on for my walk and listening to a podcast that had nothing to do with it. And then also just kind of encouraging my my colleagues to to do the same and and kicking out the TSA over the CEO to be like, you know, take that hour, you’ll recharge, you’ll make better decisions and make things. So, you know, I take that time, figure out what it is that energizes you and and recognize what drains you. And. But you’ve got to have that quick self reflection to make sure you can Kinloss, because it’s it’s going to be a while.


[00:58:48] Well, thank you so much, Rebecca. And I want to just give all of my love to this amazing superstar panel. Thank you all for the amazing work you’re doing across the prairies in the north. Let’s keep going. And the next hundred days. Let’s go kick some butt, change the systems for the better and make sure we’re taking care of all of our relatives. Thank you. Canadian Urban Institute for bringing us all together. Thank you, everybody, for watching. My name is Michael RedHat Champagne. These are the awesomest panelists in the prairies in the north. We’re excited to be a part of your world. And let’s change these systems together.


[00:59:18] Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Hear.


Full Audience
Chatroom Transcript

Note to reader: Chat comments have been edited for ease of readability. The text has not been edited for spelling or grammar. For questions or concerns, please contact with “Chat Comments” in the subject line.

00:15:57             Canadian Urban Institute:           Folks, please change your chat settings to “all panelists and attendees” so everyone can see your comments.

00:16:52             Emily Wall, CUI Staff:     Please visit to read the full report COVID Signpost 100 and to see details on the rest of today’s panels.

00:17:20             Emily Wall, CUI Staff:     We’ve compiled 100 Actions pulled from our CityTalk series – check them out on

00:17:40             Emily Wall, CUI Staff:     #covid100

00:17:48             Canadian Urban Institute:           You can find transcripts and recordings of today’s and all our webinars at

00:17:50             Emily Wall, CUI Staff:     Today’s panel:


Michael Redhead Champagne –

Rebecca Alty –

Markus Chambers –

Christopher Clacio –

Pamela Goulden-McLeod –

Mark Head –

00:19:35             Canadian Urban Institute:           Keep the conversation going #covid100 @canurb

00:23:08             Kate Graham:    Hello from London ON … but I do love the Prairies & the North <3

00:24:18             Canadian Urban Institute:           Folks, please change your chat settings to “all panelists and attendees” so everyone can see your comments.

00:24:48             J. Scott: Hello again to everyone from Tkaranto!


00:25:33             Dana Kripki:       Hello from Saskatoon!

00:26:09             Trina Gust:         Hello from Saskatoon.

00:26:23             Chiedza Pasipanodya:    Hello from Tkaronto!

00:30:30             Zoë Mager:        Hi from Winnipeg! So glad to see some experiences of the Prairies and North shared in this dicussion.

00:39:41             Todd Mitchell:   Hello from Treaty 4 territory (Regina, SK)

00:43:45             Chiedza Pasipanodya:    Great rant!

00:43:47             J. Scott: If governments are so nimble and apparently well-funded why haven’t they acted on the existing system deficiencies?

00:44:04             k kerr:   WELL SAID MICHAEL.

00:44:13             J. Scott: YES!!!!!

00:45:41             J. Scott: Yes Pamela!

00:49:33             Emily Wall, CUI Staff:     Please help CUI improve its CityTalk programming with a short survey –

00:54:31             k kerr:   its true, so different from the other webinars, loving this perspective.

00:55:29             Pamela Goulden-McLeod:           Business Continuity Management is so essential and COVID has emphasized how important it is

00:57:39             J. Scott: Mayor Alty has just shown us the value of the media!

00:58:19             Canadian Urban Institute:           You can find transcripts and recordings of today’s and all our webinars at

01:00:30             J. Scott: The federal government needs to step up. Big Time. In fact, one easy way for the Federal Government to access funds for the recovery (water clean up on reserves, health and housing just for a start!) and to reduce the huge hidden emissions of the military, would be the immediate scrapping of contributions to NATO that total $32.7 billion — and counting — as described in the 2017 defence policy p. 43: (this will go up with supplementary estimates every year. It states that a gob smacking $553B will be spent on the military over the next 20 years but this will actually be much higher with supplementary estimates.) This expenditure seems particularly egregious given the long-standing and enormous level of long unfunded needs still to be met within Canada itself.

01:03:46             Canadian Urban Institute:           Keep the conversation going #covid100 @canurb

01:04:43             Todd Mitchell:   Markus touched on the detrimental effects to peoples mental health due to the covid epidemic–which I believe is an overlooked aspect of this situation. Just wondering what panelists/attendees think are some strategies city officials, planners, and community organizers could employ into their daily work life which would work to help the feelings of isolation, fatigue, and anxiety that are so closely associated with the covid pandemic.

01:08:09             J. Scott: Yes, Chris! People should also be able to make deputations at their municipality level when budgets are being discussed.

01:09:58             J. Scott: I’d never have been able to meet with all you wonderful people if not for COVID zoom calls.

01:12:05             Christopher Clacio:    

01:12:23             Canadian Urban Institute:           CUI extends a big thank you to our host Michael Redhead Champagne and our entire panel for an exceptional discussion today. Thank you to our attendees too for your keen attention and participation!

01:12:52             Christopher Clacio:         Here is a link to the Winnipeg metro region up above

01:13:24             J. Scott: Social media was tyrannical pre-COVID!

01:13:56             J. Scott: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

01:14:00             Debra Nyczai:    Thank you!