How are Community Leaders Inspiring Change in Mohkínstsis (Calgary)?

Joining CUI host Mary Rowe for our session “CityTalk In Residence: How are Community Leaders Inspiring Change in Mohkínstsis (Calgary)?” are Beth Gignac, Chief Operating Office of Calgary and Area United Way; Jason Ribeiro, Director of Strategy of Calgary Economic Development; Patti Pon, President & CEO of Calgary Arts Development, Karen Gosbee, Co-Chair of Community Action on Mental Health and Addiction Stewardship Group; and Tim Fox, Calgary Foundation’s Vice President of Indigenous Relations & Equity Strategy. #CUIxLocal

5 Key

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

1. Reconciliation needs to be front and centre

Tim Fox, Vice President of Indigenous Relations & Equity Strategy with the Calgary Foundation, puts forward that there are big gaps facing populations that have not benefitted from settler-created systems of philanthropy. The Indigenous population is the fastest growing population segment in the country. Fox issues a call to action to his colleagues to consider what that means. “There’s going to be this untapped human resource of Indigenous folks entering into the workforce in urban centers. And if you’re a part of the human services sector, for example, that requires you as a system to shift and change. Gone are the days where we should expect Indigenous people to increase their capacity. What are you as an organization and sector doing to shift and change your practice that is more inclusive, that’s more welcoming and provides a sense of belonging for this growing population?”

2. A city of paradoxes.

Jason Ribeiro, Director of Strategy at Calgary Economic Development, argues that what Calgary in the new economy has revealed “a city of paradoxes”. We can take pride that Calgary was named the most livable city in North America according to the Economist, yet it is also among the cities leading in income inequality. Despite having a highly educated workforce, the ground is shifting with the energy transition, and digital economy. Meanwhile, Calgary’s downtowns are in crisis. But, he says, there are important local initiatives leading the response, citing examples like the 1 Million Square Feet initiative, focused on re-animating downtown spaces.

3. Filling the gap between growing needs and declining revenues

According to United Way Calgary and Area’s Beth Gignac, across the country non-profit philanthropic organizations are facing a 4–6.2 billion-dollar reduction in revenues. 69% are experiencing in a decline in revenues, and one in five are not going to make it out of the pandemic. At a time when community serving organizations and agencies are needed more than ever, she argues that the sector needs to think structurally about how to sustain itself through and beyond the pandemic, and its relationship to government.

4. Addressing systemic disconnections across the system

COVID-19 has exposed systemic problems and gaps within and between institutional systems of support for the most vulnerable among us. According to Karen Gosbee, COVID provides an important opportunity to take action to better organize, integrate, and align systems surrounding mental health and addictions, across the continuum of prevention, promotion, treatment, and recovery.

5. Arts-led city building strategies for an inclusive environment

According to Calgary Arts Development President & CEO Patti Pon, arts-led city-building is at the heart of recovery. “Artists are our storytellers. This time will be remembered through the stories that artists will tell and express, through their lenses, through their eyes and hearts and minds… [We have to all] do our best to include artists at these very tables that are talking about the future, that are looking at ways to innovate.”

Additional Resources

Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada:

White Goose Flying: A Report to Calgary City Council on the Indian Residential School Truth & Reconciliation Calls to Action:

Strengthening Relations with Indigenous Communities Impact Report by Calgary Foundation:

The Indigenomics Institute is an Indigenous economic advisory for public governments, Indigenous communities and the private sector:

The immigration conversation: How immigrants contribute to Alberta’s economic prosperity:

Innovative new approach launched to bolster immigrants’ integration success:

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.

Mary Rowe [00:00:00] Hi, everybody, it’s Mary Rowe from CUI. What a gorgeous picture that was, that holding slide of Mohkinstsis, Calgary. Mohkinstsis meaning the elbow where the place- where the elbow and the Bow River actually form an elbow. That’s the Indigenous name of this place. And I’m sure that picture had been- the colors have been heightened. But did you all look at it? Didn’t you- did you think boy, our city looks pretty good. And there’s a crane there and there’s that- and there’s the river there. Anyway, thanks everybody for joining us at CityTalk. We’ve just had an extraordinary week. We’ve been in Calgary from the- beginning Monday morning through here to now. We have another couple of sessions after this CityTalk, but we’ve learned so much and it’s been such a diverse, rich conversation, I just don’t know, quite know how to start. But I’m so appreciative that I have my colleagues here who have been participating in these conversations. And they may have, in fact, helped us set some of them up. And they- they can relate to the large audience that comes on to CityTalk. Some of the highlights, some of the things that have been flagged, some of the priorities that have been identified, some of the challenges that we’re sharing collectively. CUI is in the connected tissue business, as we’ve been saying all along, and this experience of us immersing ourselves in a community and trying to get a sense of the variety and the diversity of issues and challenges and opportunities is wonderful. Toronto is where I happen to be this morning today. It’s actually a mild day here in which we’re appreciative of because we know it’s not going to last. And I know there’s snow on the ground in Calgary. Toronto is the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Annishnabec, the Chippewa and the Haudenosaunee and Wendat peoples home to many diverse First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples from across Turtle Island. We have a treaty- the two treaties actually that touch on Toronto- Toronto, Treaty 13, which is with the Mississaugas of the Credit and the Williams Treaty signed with multiple Annishnabec nations. We have struggled here at CUI over the last several months through COVID to come to terms with the legacy of colonialism and how that has repeated and to exclude and marginalize not only historic populations that are from here and throughout their ancestry from here, but also people of color, people with different kinds of disabilities. Basically, how have we continued to in the way we build and make cities and manage them and structure them and finance them, how those continue to be excluding and how do we kind, coming out of COVID with- it’s not like we didn’t all know that. We had a sense of it beforehand, but now it’s just so right before our eyes, when we look at those heat maps to see where Covid is being felt most directly, it’s in those neighborhoods that have not benefited, shall we say, from the best of urbanism. In fact, they’ve benefited from some of the worst of urbanism. And we appreciate, too, that we happened to land in Calgary this week and we were in Edmonton last, at- at a time when the Coronavirus is really ravaging Alberta. And in fact, I think you have the highest per capita instance of COVID now, which is just a tragic statistic to have to share. So with all the more reason for us to be appreciative of you taking the time this week through these various meetings and now on a Friday, as you are coming to terms with the new lockdown requirements and all the pressures that were put on your- putting on your constituencies to take time. When we first created CityTalk, it was early about April. I think. We had a hesitation, though, that we knew that millions and millions of Canadians were engaged in front line service, saving people’s lives, keeping people safe. And was it really the right time to talk? So we’ve struggled with that. But we also appreciate that we do need places, safe places, where we can learn from another, where we can share the burdens that we’re struggling with, maybe find some new approaches, new answers. And so that’s what our work at CUI has been focused on over through the pandemic period and why being with you this whole week has been just remarkable. And we’ve appreciated the extent to which reconciliation is infusing so much of the journey in Mohkintsis and all the different First Nations that are part of your community there. So the Siksika- Siksika, the Piikani, the Kainai, Kaina- how did I do, Tim, help me with that one. Kainai? The Tsuu T’ina, Nakoda, and the Chiniki and I will rely on my colleagues to correct my pronunciation. It’s been fascinating for us to hear the differentiation between the Blackfoot First Nations communities and then those that were actually part of- signed Trea- Treaty 7. And also how that informs your regional perspectives as you talk about the challenges and the assets that you have that are remarkable in the region and also how that translates into opportunities and as I suggested, issues that need to be reconciled and addressed. We’re also appreciative of the University, the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape, SAPL. We’ve- They’ve co-sponsored this session and we’ve been in conversation with them a bit beforehand. And we had a session with them last evening about the way in which the- Institution is trying to be supportive and contributing to whatever the future evolution of Calgary is. We’re also heard from people from the downtown sector, people from the new economy, people from the old economy, people from social services, people from arts, people that are entrepreneurial, people that are working on poverty, people that are working on equity. So it’s really been a rich, rich week for us. And I know that I’m going to benefit now from the kinds of summaries and all the rest of you, all you CityTalkers are going to benefit from hearing from these folks directly what they are focused on. As everyone knows, we record CityTalk. It gets posted afterwards on the website. We hope that you’ll send all your friends there. We also have a very active chat here, which I’m hoping people will contribute to. And if you put questions up in the chat, sometimes other chatters respond to those questions. But also I can take some of it and feed it back into the group here. And just remember what goes into the chat, stays in the chat. So because we post these things and these are- I think we all need to remember that this is a remarkable moment in our lifetimes where we’re being afforded the opportunity to really examine what we’ve been doing right, what we haven’t been doing right. And as we emerge from this extraordinary moment, how are we, how will our lives change? How do we want them to change? And how do we want our city and our city environments to change, to be more the kinds of city environments that we want and that are inclusive for everyone. So with that beginning, I’m going to turn first to you, Tim, if I could. And also everybody that- everybody’s bio, as you know, appears in the chats. We don’t do long bios, but it would be helpful if you just said “I’m Tim, I work at the Calgary Foundation”, that kind of thing. And we’ll start with you. Just a little overview from your perspective about pressing issues, challenges and opportunities that you see in Mohkintsis.


Tim Fox [00:07:17] For sure. Thanks, Mary. And just by way of a deeper introduction, I’ll say, OK, still, and that we soak up some. My name is Tim and I’m originally from Blood (Kainai) reserve. It’s apart of the Siksikaitsitapi, the Blackfoot Confederacy. The work that I do is for a settler created philanthropic organization called the Calgary Foundation. And for the past four years, I have been focused on taking a systems change approach and trying to find ways to mobilize the work of reconciliation and decolonization. And so just your opening reflections about the things that are emerging sort of more locally, I think could be also said right across the country. There’s this interest for sectors to find novel ways to mobilize this work of decolonization and reconciliation. And so that has been my focus for the last four years. And there is no guidebook on how to do this, I’m definitely in a space of experimenting. I do know that there is a big piece of knowledge and context missing from the very infrastructures of all settler created organizations. And so that’s sort of been a focus of my approach over the last four years and continues to be. I feel like this work is generational and as a generation, that’s the tough task that we are faced with. So just in a nutshell, that’s sort of my focus of my work. And really happy to be here as well.


Mary Rowe [00:08:46] Yeah, you know, I- I was brought up short when I first took this job. I’ve been working in the US, I’m Canadian, but I’ve been working in the US. And I gave a speech in Vancouver and an Indigenous woman came up to me and said, cities are a colonial construct. And I was- I was- it hit me between the eyes. You know, I was so gobsmacked because I think of cities being four thousand years old. But I, but I heard her and then engaged in a learning conversation. I tried to learn what the perspective was that she was bringing in, as you suggested, this settler soft infrastructure that we have around, how we make decisions, how we invest, how we structure neighborhoods. It’s so deeply ingrained, isn’t it? And so I can appreciate. And then you’re there in a- as thunder rolls. So you have some power that you’re having to, I’m sure, navigate a new relationship with communities that doesn’t reinforce that power. That must be tricky.


Tim Fox [00:09:47] Well, I think that there is a mental model that exists for the the world of philanthropy. Like the mental model is where we have a love of humankind. We’re giving to the charitable sector. And that’s sort of parallel that to this iceberg, this cultural iceberg. And at the very top and the surface is this mental model. But the more you begin to lower that surface, you’ll begin to identify these leverage points and these gaps that exist for certain populations who are not quite benefiting from the generosity of philanthropy, settler created philanthropy. You know, I’m really specific when I say settler created philanthropy, because philanthropy has been a part of Indigenous paradigm of thought and culture, it’s just practicing the value of generosity and giving in a different way. It’s sort of giving without any restrictions or justification that- that we see so much in settler created philanthropy. The other thing that we are really focused on is this growing trend that the Indigenous population is the fastest growing segment in all of Canada. And so as an organization, we are taking that very seriously and we’re preparing ourselves for that growth. And this is sort of a call to action that I would give to all of my colleagues on this call is to really consider what that growth in population means. It means a couple of things. It means that there’s going to be this untapped human resource of Indigenous folks entering into the workforce in urban centers. But also if you’re a part of a sector, a human services sector, for example, that that requires you as a system to shift and change. I think gone are the days when we should expect Indigenous people to increase their capacity. I’m asking the question, what are you as an organization and sector doing to shift and change your practice that is more inclusive, that’s more welcoming and provides a sense of belonging for this growing population, which, by the way, is going to be a really young population growing.


Mary Rowe [00:11:43] And you’re already the youngest city in Canada. Your average age is something that- I’m just going to throw at some of these little things that we’ve heard this week, I think for people across the country may not pay attention to that kind of stuff. You’re the youngest. You also have the highest per capita income held by a younger population. I also have a- I think the second least equal in terms of economy or income. I think I’ll go to you Beth, next at United Way, who can probably comment on that. I know that there- there’s certainly I don’t know if it’s widening, but there is a situation you have with a lot of people earning a lot of money and a lot of people who aren’t. And I’m just, before I go to you Beth, I’m just going to plug that- if people- if Jamie could put into the chat, there is, of course, that you can- you can read, of course, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, which is good reading all the time to reread, read, reread. But there’s also a specific report to Calgary City Council called the White Goose Flying, which talks- has a list of calls to action, which and I’m sure there are other resources that maybe some of our other panelists might want to put up into the chat so people can see the particular Made in Calgary thinking around reconciliation. Beth, can I go to you now in terms of the ways- because you are on, you’re on the corporate philanthropy side as opposed to private philanthropy. Can you give us your perspective?


Beth Gignac [00:12:58] Sure, hi everyone, happy to be here. And thank you for the question, Mary. In fact, we’re involved in both businesses: corporate philanthropy and individual philanthropy. And- and Tim is absolutely right. We’re also a settler organization. United Way Calgary has been here for over 80 years. And United Way is a movement globally, as is about a hundred years in practice. And we are like Tim and his organization at the Calgary Foundation have been on a- on a very aggressive internal journey around what it means for us to consider decolonizing our own constructs around how we think about philanthropy, how we think about our- our own privilege in this space and in how we consider our community investments as a result. And in fact, it was one of those initial studies and reports we did, or we took a look at, you know, how the agencies and organizations that United Way funds and supports are supporting vulnerable populations, including racialized populations, indigenous people, et cetera, and there’s a disproportionate representation in both mainstream organizations and in Indigenous or Black Lives specific organizations around, you know, certain- certain folks being, you know, grossly disproportionately represented. And- and those are- those are structural reasons. Those are social- social structures, economic structures. You know, where we see a growing gap.


Mary Rowe [00:14:16] Disproportionately not represented.


Beth Gignac [00:14:18] Sorry, disproportionally not represent. Yeah. So, you know, and there is a growing gap. You know, there certainly is a significantly growing- growing gap where there are, you know, significantly more people who have access to resources and significantly more people who don’t. And, you know, our economic reality, which I know Jason will speak to, is- is troubling. The transition is difficult, right. And that transition that we’re involved in here is very difficult, very challenging on the- on the funding side. Just to give you some context here, you know, across the country, you know, we’re looking at a four to six point two billion dollar reduction in philanthropy. That’s a big number. Sixty nine percent of nonprofit philanthropic charitable organizations across the country are experiencing a decline in revenue and one in five nonprofit or charities across, regardless of its arts and culture, social services, are not going to make it now. Now, those are jobs and those are also services. And when we look at the situation in Calgary, certainly COVID has revealed those disparities in terms of services. And here’s a really troubling fact. These, like these curved lines are going at exactly the wrong direction. There are way more people who need supports and services, who have never needed supports and services from social services in particular before and- and- and yet we have a precipitous decline in philanthropic revenue to actually, you know, fill in that gap. And it has been filling in that gap, you know, and philanthropy won’t be able to fill in that gap. You know, there’s just no question. So we do need to to think about, you know, structurally how- how are our sectors going to need to reconsider ourselves and our relationship, not only to philanthropy, but our relationship, you know, to government. And what does that look like and where are those conversations happening? And they’re really important.


Mary Rowe [00:16:19] That’s interesting that you think we’re going to see a period of time where the sector becomes more dependent on public funding and then the statistic you’re reading Beth, just for the benefit of the audience here. Where are you pulling those statistics from?


Beth Gignac [00:16:31] It’s actually a recent report that’s just being released by United Way Centraide Canada, in collaboration with the YMCA Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada and a number of other charitable organizations who are- who are now looking at that data in the aggregate. Locally, the Calgary Chamber of Voluntary Organizations has done a brilliant report in terms of surfacing and understanding what the local conditions are. The national statistics are just a reflection of what’s happening locally.


Mary Rowe [00:17:00] And it’s a complicated thing. I mean, I know people are describing a K shaped recovery.


Beth Gignac [00:17:05] Yeah.


Mary Rowe [00:17:07] Where people that have had- that were already doing well and who are in saying they can work from home. They actually are making more money. And they’re spending less so they’re saving more. And people that were already marginal, already in low income jobs or precarious employment are making in fact less. So is you’re suggesting then- what I don’t know about is if people actually on the upper end are actually hanging onto more money, have they lost the-? I know there’s an issue around event revenue that lots of national health charities, for instance, rely on. I know you’re very involved with one and reminds me frequently about this, that you don’t have bike rides anymore and walks and all that kind of stuff. So that revenue is gone. But if high income people are hanging onto their money, are they- are they just not contributing, are they forgetting or are they- ?


Beth Gignac [00:17:57] I don’t think they’re forgetting, Mary. I think that, you know, everyone is, I would say in a heightened state of anxiety. And people, they’re really- everyone is anxious. Everyone is- is trying to figure out how to deal with the unpredictable, you know, reality, you know, what’s happening now, what’s going to happen in 2021 and going forward, which is what is recovery look like? This is not short term. This is very long term recovery. I also think someone has mentioned in the chat, yeah, there’s actually quite a lot of- of transfer of- of interest into, you know, social impact investing. And, you know, we’re looking at expanding social impact investing here in our own community in order for us to be able to think about, you know, how we can build a robust system, economic system, social system, culture system, et cetera, that includes social impact investing. So I think people are also just thinking about, you know, different ways and different vehicles. And, you know, timing is- is, as they say, everything. And we’re really- we’re really in a- in a tight squeeze.


Mary Rowe [00:18:55] Yeah, no, I hear that. And I think these are important trends. I’m seeing that people are having me- having trouble hearing. I- can the panelists hear me? Abby Slater, can you hear me if I just speak up?


Tim Fox [00:19:10] Just a little, your volume is a little bit low for me anyway.


Mary Rowe [00:19:14] But that’s about- I can scream. I don’t know what that’s about. Maybe it’s just too much Zooming is maybe what it is. I’m going to go- I’ll try not to yell and hopefully- some people can hear me and some people say are saying, I’m not faint, just so you know, I’m good. OK, Jason, can you segue from back then to the economic development perspective and what you would add to this remarkable structural thing that Beth is saying is coming or we’re in the midst of. Over to you, Jason.


Jason Ribeiro [00:19:45] Well, thank you, Mary, and to CUI and SAPL for the invitation. My name is Jason Ribeiro. I’m the Director of Strategy at Calgary Economic Development, responsible for our core research that our team produces. Everything from seizing AI opportunities with machine analytics and data analytics all the way through to studies on the office market in our downtown. Just a wide breadth of- of topics including the the economic and social impact of Calgary’s newcomers as economic drivers. We’ve- we’ve been quite intentional about expanding the reach of our research. But the other part of my- my role is, is leading our communities economic strategy called Calgary in the New Economy. And it’s- it’s a vision that Calgary becomes the city of choice for the world’s best entrepreneurs. And I don’t just use entrepreneurs in the very, you know, sort of privileged position of someone in a- in a t shirt and a very hip sort of environment downtown. I use it in the sense of those involved in local investing, in social entrepreneurship, those spanning all sectors that want to solve really heady challenges, including cleaner energy, safe and secure food, the efficient movement of goods and people, and better health solutions, which is of increasing importance, as Mary noted, with the concerning rise in cases in Calgary, in Alberta. So we were asked, you know, what’s working on the ground and what’s not? I think we- we are well aware of what’s not working. And from the economic development perspective, the what’s not working can be, you know, I could insert the 11% unemployment rate, which is one of the highest in the country. I could insert office vacancy rates, which are climbing towards 30%. But I want to acknowledge what- what Beth has talked about, what Tim has talked about the challenges of what’s not working are increasingly the amount of work that we need to do on knowing and unknowing as it concerns reconciliation. What’s- what’s not working is increasingly the systemic barriers for- for those of- people of color and mixed race who have come to this community and potentially may be dealing with living in a community in some part of this, the city that gives them less access to economic and social opportunity than others. You know, we talked about Mary, the stats that you threw out, some of them which are very sexy and things to be proud of, but you’ve also noted the other side of that around income inequality. And I think with Calgary in the New Economy, this economic strategy that we consulted with 1800 business and community- community leaders on, what it’s revealed is that Calgary is a city of paradoxes. Calgary, yes, we can take a lot of pride that it is named the most livable city by the Economist in North America, while also acknowledging the statistic you just cited about being one of the leading jurisdictions for income inequality. We can talk about the fact that we have the most highly educated workforce per capita in the entire country, in Calgary. But at the same point in time, the ground is shifting underneath us, not only in an energy transition, but in a wave of digitization that has displaced a ton of people who are trying to find their way with- with very, very high educational credentials. And so I think we can talk at length about what’s- what’s not working. But- but from my vantage point, what is working is that we’re starting to have conversations that have momentum. This diversification conversation 10, 15, 20, 30 years ago was, I think, paid a lot of lip service, but it was hard to see the results of. Macro economically, maybe, but not necessarily on the ground. Increasingly, we’re starting to see people talking to their kids about what companies they’re going to work for and it’s not often the bigger players that have played a large, outsized role in our community. It is these social enterprises and technology companies that are increasingly hiring bastions of people. And so I think what is working is this call for density in our core, better sustainable urban planning, which we know, has created this paradoxical situation where the communities at the periphery of our city are actually mixed use, walkable and retail having spaces, but created this vacuum where there’s- there’s suburban existing communities that don’t have that level of- of good urban practices there. What we’re seeing is that we’re moving forward in I think a much more sustainable way, whether we can get the, I think, political, economic and social momentum to make sure that this isn’t just lip service as- as in previous years, but actually turning the corner on building a new economy is what remains to be seen. But I’m very, very heartened with working with many of the people on this on this panel on moving the dial forward in both small and big ways on the items I just mentioned.


Mary Rowe [00:24:32] Well, I hope you enjoy it, Jason. Cause for the next few days, since I understand next year your life is going to be diapers and walks to the park. Taking a year to be with your child, which is a wonderful thing that you always hope every parent can do. And question- you raised this issue about and I’m going to come to you, Patty, to talk about, if you can about culture. Jason, you talked about the spatial nature of growth. And I would say that when- when you approve, when the city council approved those new fourteen new neighborhoods pre-COVID, I think there was lots of speculation about, well, is Calgary actually thinking about intensifying in the core or is it actually going to continue to be a more spread out, lower density community? And how- how do you kind of level those two things? I hear you, that- we have a big campaign here at CUI called Bring Back Main Street and we’re aware that local- the potential for local neighborhood economies to come out of this stronger is a hugely important challenge that each of us can have agency in what then does happen to the downtown. And you had a downtown that was struggling before COVID. You had four hundred empty office floors before the virus even arrived. So how how do you think as an economic developer, how do you- how do you hold both those things to be true?


Jason Ribeiro [00:26:06] Yeah, it’s- it’s- it’s definitely a nuanced one, and I’ll just couch this for the record, you assume my life is in diapers and night feedings right now, I think this is the only clean suit I have that doesn’t have spit up on it. But- but- but I think you’ve raised a very, very thoughtful point around a reference I made earlier around alignment. Not only with- between government and industry, but- but also the plans that we have. The economic strategy is one roadmap, but we have municipal development target plans, we have a number of frameworks that we need to be able to find the ways to- to adhere to, while striking a balance between needed economic growth and jobs. And the question is, at least from our economic development perspective, we’re not just concerned about the short term, we’re concerned about the long term as well. And so while we’ll take the- the- the influx of new- new construction jobs or new trades jobs that might result out of this building, what are the longer term consequences and how can we channel our efforts without boiling the ocean to make sure we’re thinking in the long term? And so I think that the efforts of CUI around Bring Back Main Streets and Restore the Core are certainly a focus for us. And we’ve- we’ve actually partnered with the Downtown Association and and Patti’s organization to create a number of downtown initiatives, including a Million Square Feet, which is an accelerator for all of these new ideas to reanimate, create investment opportunities within existing space downtown so we get that- that level of vibrancy, we get that level of acumen, but also for the property owners, we get that level of traction. So we make sure that Calgary’s downtown isn’t choked off from future investment, that they see it as a worthy market to continue investing in, which I think will increase not only the the liveliness of- of a downtown core, but certainly the jobs that hopefully go with it.


Mary Rowe [00:27:55] I mean, as you say, these are all assets. I mean, the thing is, you have this built environment, you have these buildings, you have this space. How- it’s an interesting question, that’s why I want to turn to Patti, because her constituency of arts and culture is all about assets and all the remarkable assets that those folks bring and the mixing of people in place. So, Patti, can you give us a perspective from your- from your vantage point in terms of what your- what you think the challenges are? And also, I know that you’re a person focused on opportunity, but can you just sort of speak to the- to the balance of all that?


Patti Pon [00:28:33] Sure. Thank you very much and and thanks for having us all here today. Yeah, just a context piece. I am the President/CEO of Calgary Arts Development, that’s the work I do. We are the- the city’s vehicle for investing in the arts and artists on behalf of the city of Calgary. Although we hold an arm’s length relationship and reach with council to try and depoliticize the investments we make. That said, we also are an arts development agency. So like Jason at Economic Development or our friends at Tourism or the Chamber or other agencies, we also see a role in what we call city building. And in particular from Calgary Art Development’s perspective, we- we specifically refer to arts-led city building. And I think, Mary, your point about coming from this place of asset rich or from abundance, as opposed to scarcity is a great privilege that I get to work in when everyday I see the contributions and the way in which artists are contributing. They are our storytellers. We- this time will be remembered through the stories that artists will tell and express, through their lenses, through their eyes and hearts and minds. And so because of that, it’s really important to us at Calgary Arts Development, that we do our best to include artists at these very tables that are talking about the future, that are looking at ways to innovate. You know, Jason’s talking about the 1M square feet initiative. How can the arts help activate a downtown? How can artists and residents with corporations or retail blocks start to help us all look at our cities, our neighborhoods, our communities in different ways? And given our role, I describe us as being a public agency, stewarding public dollars because the bulk of our investments are made from tax dollars at the city level in support of the public good. And from a public good perspective, I’m very conscious that ours is a role of arts-led city building that is building a city for all Calgarians, not some Calgarians. And I would argue that right now as a city, our systems are such that they benefit some Calgarians, and so as a result of that, all Calgarians don’t see themselves inside the systems. They don’t see themselves benefiting from the systems as they currently exist. And so for all of us who are on this call today, I don’t want to put words in the mouths of my- my colleagues and peers, but I spend the vast majority of my day trying to figure out how to break that down, as Tim said, right, whether we contextualize it in the spirit of decolonizing, that in and of itself, if we do that one thing, that would transform this city. If we talk about it from the perspective of inclusion, right, everybody is using some variation of equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility or diversity of equity and inclusion or equity or anti-racism or like, you know, racial equity or social justice, like all these terms are now coming up and coming into the mainstream for, I think a lot of people who don’t actually know what that means. And for some people where it’s very, very fearful. And honestly, I just find in our city right now, I’m a born and raised Calgarian. As a settler here, I have benefited greatly. And I always talk about how much I love my city. I don’t always like it. And right now I really dislike my city. And so selfishly, my work is about how do I fall in like with my city again? And if I can do that for me, I’m pretty sure I can bring others along with us. And I especially feel pretty sure that if we’re including artists in that kind of discourse, in that activation, that’s the other thing I think we haven’t done quite enough of right now. We have spent so much time talking and not enough time doing and acting. And that’s what I love, I admire so much about the people on this call. You- I can point to stuff and say, Karen did that, Jason did that, Tim did that and Beth did that. And nine times out of ten, they did it together with other people. That, to me, is my hope. That’s my thin edge of the wedge into what I believe the possibilities for our city can be going forward. Because I see people like this who are being exemplars. They are working together, which, by the way, is really super hard and it takes up way more time and you can’t get nearly as much done as you’d like to when you have to work as collaborators. And I often talk about- I’m kind of past partners and collaborators, I want co-conspirators. I am looking for the people who are going to work stuff. We’re just going to go in. Yeah, we just got to get it done, folks. And yeah, another Calgary thing right, there- these are a group of people and there are many, many more, I recognize a bunch of names on the call who get ‘er done. And if ever there was a time, we need to get ‘er done together, it is right now. And I hope that Calgary Arts Development is a part of that kind of effort to figure out how we kind of move the pieces around to to do just that.


Mary Rowe [00:34:59] I want to come back to when you fell out of love with your city. And you say- you’re in love with it, you don’t like it at the moment.


Patti Pon [00:35:08] Yeah, yeah, I love my city always. I don’t like it and you know, Mary it’s that kind of iterative sort of thing. Right. So it just kind of- oh, what’s that thing- got the boiling frog? You know, you don’t know. We put the frog in the water and you turn the water on and it doesn’t know that the water is getting hotter and hotter. And so for me, it was like, oh, I’m really disappointed in- you know, I’ll just use recent examples. Our municipal politics are a mess. There’s so much discord and rancor.


Mary Rowe [00:35:42] OK.


Patti Pon [00:35:44] There was a- after the restrictions, our local news does a daily poll and they said, call in or let us know if you’re going to follow the COVID rules during the holidays. Fifty four percent said yes. Forty six percent said no.


Mary Rowe [00:36:03] Wow.


Patti Pon [00:36:03] And that was forty seven hundred people who responded to that survey. And that was two days ago.


Mary Rowe [00:36:09] So- so it’s that- it’s that feeling of that there are, as such as you say, that there’s rancor, that there’s dissent, that there’s dissonance and- and yeah. It’s just-


Patti Pon [00:36:21] Yeah. You know, and and I do think what it’s translating into, or at least within the small bubble is people not feeling heard. Right. So again, while those of us who have the privilege of getting to be a part of these conversations, there’s a way, way bigger group who just don’t feel that connectedness, don’t feel that belonging and COVID just exacerbated that because now we’re stuck online. If you don’t have access to good Internet,


Mary Rowe [00:36:51] You’re screwed.


Patti Pon [00:36:52] You’re hooped. Yeah. And- and always it’s the people on the margins who are, you know, left out.


Mary Rowe [00:37:00] Yeah. I mean, it’s just exclusion made worse. You know, everything made worse. Karen, I want to come to you. You’ve been very patient there. All your colleagues have been talking, but your focus is on mental health. And we had a very exciting session with the mayor a couple of days ago which you were on, because you co-chair this community advisory on this. And this is something the mayor has been concerned about before COVID that I’m only anticipating that you’re going to talk to us about what Patti is kind of getting it too, is that this is just heightened. COVID has heightened the mental health challenges. So can you give us a bit of a picture of what your focus is?


Karen Gosbee [00:37:32] Well, yeah, I mean, I- I fell into what I’m doing now as a community advocate and working on a mental health and addiction strategy for the city of Calgary, and I had been an advocate my entire life. And that wasn’t by choice. It was by design. And, you know, I came- I ended up having a conversation with the mayor and saying, everything’s out there. It just needs to be organized better in a- in a more efficient fashion. And I think this is kind of what we’re all speaking to. But what’s happened is we’ve been faced with this crisis situation and everybody has been faced with it. And the flip side of COVID for us is it has been really- it has provided a lot of information and in how to better organize and inform us in the mental health and addiction world. And in health, you usually think of it as prevention, promotion, treatment and recovery. And everybody all of a sudden had to prevent the COVID and we had to do better promotion and better health promotion. And- and that’s what the whole concept of wellbeing and- and having a good quality of life and instilling hope, that’s kind of in the promotion realm. But we started to be able to think about how we could do a city strategy to better inform and better organize and get the people that are typically like, trying to manage other people that have mental health and natural supports- supports not go to the wrong service, the wrong time, the wrong provider, and just have them be more informed and know where to go pre-crisis and just just have a better organization of all. But what really came out, I guess, for me is everything we’ve been talking about, about how the system practices- practices and policies, that they’ve really sort of amplified the inequities, however you want to say it, and that we have to use this opportunity where there’s this mass destruction, whether it’s health, it’s the economy, it’s whatever it is. And everybody’s experiencing this to make it sort of as a parent will say, Jason, you’ll- a teachable moment. And I think we can use this with what everyone is talking about and how all of these populations can teach people to decolonize and teach feminism and teach everything that needs to be talked about now that we have been ignoring up until now, that have informed these archaic system practices and policies that are making these decisions for these people that just are not working. And- and I truly think that whatever we’re pushing now is really informing us. And I think it’s a great chance for opportunity. But it’s- it’s very- it’s not as abundant, and you know Beth, when you’re talking about people and the- what you’re faced with with philanthropy. This is a time where we’re- we’ve done an analysis of what’s going into the mental health and addiction world. And I think we need to just do this more efficiently and we need to think about how it’s not a case of needing more money. It’s a case of doing it better.


Mary Rowe [00:41:08] And I guess it’s a question of where we’re going to spend money to. I mean, I think part of my anxiety is we will see a lot of money, stimulus money that’s going to come at rebuilding Canada. And how is that- how are those priorities going to be determined and how do we make sure that local communities, people like you, are actually informing those decisions so that we don’t end up building back the wrong things? One- one observation I want to offer based on our week with everybody. It feels to me like Calgary does this arm’s length, somewhat autonomous, stand alone thing that Patti works for, that Jason works for, feels to me like you do that quite well. That you create- that’s not true in every city. Right? You create these, as Patti- how did you describe it? You’re what-.


Patti Pon [00:42:06] We’re- we’re called civic partners. And you’re right, Mary. It is actually something very unique to Calgary that many other jurisdictions have actually come to Calgary to explore and understand better.


Mary Rowe [00:42:18] Yeah, I’m interested because I want us to figure out how do we take the best lessons? How do we build new forms of infrastructure? And I’m wondering if there’s an opportunity. The other thing is you- you mentioned it also Patti- the get ‘er done spirit. We’ve heard that from almost every conversation we’ve had with people, every sector, has reflected on how many people volunteered for the Calgary Olympics, how many people showed up to talk about solving homelessness, how many people- so it feels as if there’s a civic sensibility that you can tap into to, eh? Do you see ways in which that could be harnessed even more? You’re going to go through a big transition this year. You’ll- you’ll come out of COVID, you’ll have a mayoralty situation. They’ll probably be transition on your council, I’m assuming. So it’s a- it’s an interesting moment. And your economy is changing before your eyes. Maybe I’ll go back to you, Tim, in terms of what the Calgary Foundation’s perspective is on this, as you go through what are going to be an extraordinary number of kind of sequential changes, eh?


Tim Fox [00:43:32] Well, the way I would frame it from the Calgary Foundation perspective, is that- it’s a difference between knowledge extraction and knowledge mobilization in the world of philanthropy and how we’re trying to move the needle so that we’re getting into- we’re shifting our system, that’s a little bit more focused on reciprocity and all that kind of stuff. So for me, the way I would explain that is and Karen touched this- touched on this, that we are- we are teaching a lot. We are learning a lot and all this kind of stuff. And then Patti alluded to city building and all this kind of stuff. So my connection to all of that is when I talk about taking a deep dive and when I talk about there’s this missing narrative that hopefully, you know, Jason and his sector is- is realizing that there are deficits and disparities that exist for indigenous people and people of color, but that we’re looking at those economic and social disparities through the lens of history and social injustice. Now, it’s one thing to sort of talk about that and to teach and to teach, as Karen alluded to, it’s one thing to actually put that into transformation. So the way I explain it is if I am designing some sort of piece of context that takes participants through a deep dive, which, by the way, I’m actually holding some space next Tuesday on this very topic, is that, it’s not enough for participants to show up in these spaces and simply increase their knowledge. I think we’re past that point. It’s definitely, definitely necessary and needed to- to increase your knowledge and understanding, but it’s not enough. The way I- so for indigenous people we have been extracted from since contact had been extracted from in land, extracted from resources. The very wealth that the city is sitting on has come off of the lands in the backs of indigenous people. So we’re realizing that we’re reconciling with that. But, you know, what we need to do is sort of, mobilize that knowledge. So it’s- it’s not enough, we need to understand this is- the result of that shared history has brought us to some contemporary challenges in these deficit statistics that we know. And sometimes our businesses drive down these deficits. I’m more interested in taking folks to a deeper level understanding of why those deficit statistics exist in the first place. If you’re learning and increasing your knowledge just to increase your understanding, you’re being just as extractive as anyone taking land or resources. What are you doing with that understanding to move it forward? Are we making more inclusive spaces at leadership levels and tables, at council tables and all this kind of stuff? So history matters. Social injustice matters. And this is what I’m trying to say to that generationally. The arts community, the economic development, community, mental health, we don’t take the time to sort of focus in on what that means. If we were to map the mental health system specific to racial inequality, we would sort of surface so many experiences that would help that sector and people experiencing those barriers move through them a lot more justly, a lot more equally. But we’re collectively not quite there. I can understand what you’re- what Patti is saying about not really liking the ci- this pandemic is going to end. We’re seeing some hope already, but the- the systemic racism is going to continue until we sort of tackle that by embedding this knowledge within the fabric of society, is sort of what I am pushing for in economic development, in mental health, in philanthropy and in the arts and all of it.


Mary Rowe [00:47:18] As you say, this is a post-colonial morphing of City Building and not about extraction. I mean, we’re conscious of extraction at CUI, coming in and saying, come on, give us your best. I’m very appreciative of the point you’re making there Tim, about this. And the partnerships have to look quite different. So I’m going to go to Beth and then to Jason. I’m interested about these specific calls for action. And because we want Patti to like her city again, I mean, I really appreciate this point that you can feel alienated. So- and people are tired, right. So can I get a sense from Beth and Jason of tangible things that you can imagine could actually start to happen over the next, let’s say, four months or something like that as we come out of it? Take it away Beth.


Beth Gignac [00:48:05] Yeah, it’s to- And thanks Tim for that. You know, there are two systems available to us. There have always been two systems available to to us. As settlers, there’s an oral traditional Indigenous system. There is a Western written system. We need to, as part of our decolonial thinking and decolonial, you know, getting- getting it- getting it better means that we have to commit to equity, to acknowledging, accepting, learning from each other and being humble as a settler to understand when I don’t know what I don’t know and what proper extraction looks like, what proper harvesting looks like and sounds like and acts like and feels like. We’ve done a few things at United Way this year. We started a venture in 2018 actually called the Social Impact Lab. The purpose of actually bringing people together, people with lived experience, people with policy experience, people with City Building planning experience, corporations, philanthropists, people who are running agencies and activities to actually take a person-centered design approach to- to solving problems and creating new solutions. And, you know, it’s a lab. So it means that there’s going to be a lot of stuff that’s going to fail. But it’s absolutely focused on building new action paths forward, whether or not they’re actual products that emerge, I don’t know. But here’s an example of something we did in July. So we know that COVID exposed the long known reality that Canada has a food security problem. We have a very big problem in our communities all across this country around food security. Who gets to eat and who doesn’t get to eat, with dignity and with equitable access. So we ran a platform starting in March called Responsible Disruption, where we’re bringing in people weekly to, you know, kind of get- get a pulse on what are people learning, week by week by week through- through the heart of the COVID crisis. And one of the things that we did in July with that information is we held a food disrupt-ATHON. We invited all of the different organizations and players that I was mentioning and said, hey, community, what do you want to do? We have a digital platform that which we used to call Open City as part of our lab. And through that process, actually thousands of Calgarians participated and nine different types of community solutions resurfaced, some of them to partner with existing ways in which we approach food security and food issues in our community and some which don’t, which don’t at all. Really interesting new ideas. There was one corporate partner that we work with, Imperial, who actually took that idea and ran with it and actually developed a number of other ideas using it, leveraging their own employee skill base and their own new knowledge of what it means to be on land in this place, to think about how they, as a corporate partner, can participate in food security in a really real, tangible way in our community. And these are the types of activities that we’re starting to see proliferate, really very, very grassroots, you know, lots and lots of grassroots efforts that are going on in the community. Through our own COVID Community Response Fund, where we, in collaboration with our partners like the Calgary Foundation and the city of Calgary and a number of other philanthropic foundations came together in the Stewardship Alliance within 72 hours, mind you, in March. We were able to provide an additional 12 million dollars of funding out to almost 200 organizations in our community between the end of March and the end of July. Those are not federal dollars, those are local dollars that are coming into our community, so and they were- and all of that knowledge that we gained over the past six months are now starting to inform our practices, our collaborations and our work going forward. You know, we do a lot of work with Tim and Calgary Foundation and others on this call, and as Karen has said, you know, what we are trying to do now is to say, OK, we’ve learned all this. What’s the roadmap forward?


Mary Rowe [00:52:12] So you were able to catalyze. Yes, this is one of those things that you would say you could say Beth started that, you know, so it catalyzed.


Beth Gignac [00:52:20] No, I didn’t start it. But- but- but we’re yeah, we are very interested in catalyzing to action, Mary. And that’s what Patty says when she says, get ‘er done. What I’m concerned about is that the actions won’t be joined up. They won’t be integrated. And that we’ll, you know, will go for popcorn all over the prairie. And- and that’s really going to dilute our assets and it will dilute our strengths and people will not get the support that they need. And we need to build with people, not for people.


Mary Rowe [00:52:50] Yes, we’re getting that in the chat. Whoever is with us, I hear you. Jason, do you want to comment at all about the Economic Development act, this sort of system and the extent to which it can actually have the same kind of catalytic, inclusive and other tangible things that you can do?


Jason Ribeiro [00:53:08] Yeah, I think Tim’s points are incredibly salient, and this means when I took this position 15, 16 months ago, it was coming off of a role that I had to sort of inform on the community as as an advocate, as someone who spoke out about things that I’ve seen that I know were harmful and try my best to advocate for change. And this seemed like another vehicle to be able to make make change happen. But I’m the son of a guy that grew up in in India, grew up in the UK at a very young age, got an automotive technician degree, came to Canada for opportunity because there were labor strikes going on and was told to sweep floors. That’s in our Commonwealth. That creates- that has created a scar to that man and certainly weighed, I think, on our family growing up. So this is- this is real for me. And I think the scars that Indigenous people have faced as well are top of mind. And so when I came into this position, it wasn’t enough to commission research that I think had never been done before around the impact of Calgary’s newcomers, are reframing them as economic drivers. But it was how do we move in the space of economic development to make sure that we are matching the on the ground reality and learning from the history that Tim so eloquently pointed out. And so a couple of examples are not just within our partnership with Immigrant Services Calgary, which for the first time, has created a common needs assessment among all the settlement agencies. And I sit on that guiding roundtable with their- with their CEO and ensuring that if a talented person comes into the city, they are not lost amidst the cracks between settlement agency or need serving agency, that they have the opportunity, in their words, to realize their full potential. I played a leading role in helping bring SAIT’s new school for advanced digital technology downtown and a new digital transformation talent. As part of it not only is my responsibilities as a K-12 teacher as part of that, earmarked programs specifically for Indigenous youth, as Tim has mentioned, was a fast growing population here. How we can embrace Indigenomics to talk about the economic opportunity and imperative for us to take this seriously. The empower our Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund has made is about disadvantaged youth, largely about- from- from Indigenous populations. And I say this not to be puffy chested. I say this because this is the bare minimum now of economic development.


Mary Rowe [00:55:52] And Jason, I’m going to say thanks and I hope someone will put in the references in the chat, because I’m going to run out of time and I want to hear from Karen and Paddy as well. So anything that people can put in the chat that picks up on the points that Jason just highlighted, an initiative of the investment that he brought. Karen, I want to come back to you in terms of everything that you’re hearing is actually I think about centering in on people- in the holistic approach to people. I’m assuming that that’s really the thrust of the mental health approach you’re trying to advocate for.


Karen Gosbee [00:56:23] Yes, well, yeah. I mean, the person centered for sure, but also the collaboration, I think is the big, big thing. Yeah, because every example that people have talked about through their own lens is just really if we can collaborate and we can better design a more efficient system. And also, I mean, Tim, not just- not just educate, but we have to begin to really reinforce how this system of oppression has been- it has just been so prevalent and it has been at the detriment of so many people. Because what I’m saying and is that, my difficulties that I had and with the population that I was around, I don’t think there is a fulsome understanding of how that impacts every thing.


Mary Rowe [00:57:24] Yeah, that it underwrites the whole picture and yeah, I was before we came to- to you, before we came to have our time in Calgary. I had been yammering on about my sense that you were a prophetic city because you had a whole bunch of preconditions and struggles that were just that much further ahead of where everybody else was. And I feel that the mental health challenges that you’re- that you’ve been highlighting, we- we’re going to see a wave of this going across the country around opioids, mental health, all the mental health challenges that are going to come out of COVID that we don’t even realize yet. So, again, you’re that much further ahead in trying to build these collaborations and make it about person centered interventions. And as you say, there’s going to be- the resources are going to have to be allocated smartly as we distribute. Patti, last word to you. I think about as you sort of sum up all the things you’ve been hearing and the perspective that you’re bringing in that interesting role that you play with the city, but also with all the advocates around the artistic and cultural community.


Patti Pon [00:58:23] Yeah, thank you for that. Well, you know, again, as- as you can see personified on this call, if you embrace this whole notion of equity, diversity, inclusion, accessibility, however you define it, if you’re seeing- if you’re working to make life better, make the city better for those on the margin who have not benefit from- benefited from the system, then you are building a city for all of us. Because if it can accommodate those people, then it can accommodate those of us who are already well inside the system. So as people think about that for your own organization or your own efforts, don’t think about it as finger pointing or I’m going to lose something. And I just want to quote, Verna Myers is a long time anthropologist. “Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.” And then we have another wise, wise person in our community, Cesar Cala. And he added to the quote by saying, “And equity is choosing the band.” So that’s what we’re doing here. We’re inviting people to the party. We’re going to ask them to dance and we’re going to let them pick the band. And by picking the band, you can also scale because if you have a wedding, you can have a DJ, you can have an iPod, or you can have the live band. So however big or small, make it work for you and for the circumstances you find. For us at Calgary Arts Development, we’re grateful to all of you who are partners with us. We’re actually developing a creative economy strategy for Calgary in partnership with ec-dev. But then that strategy ties to an active economy strategy that ties to a learning strategy that ties to a transportation strategy. So we- that systems piece that Tim spoke of that- that we can think at thirty five thousand feet and we can also be on the ground. That’s where I feel like Calgary is going. That’s what gives me the hope that I’m going to fall in like with my city real soon.


Mary Rowe [01:00:29] On that absolutely beautiful note, can I just thank all of Calgary that let us come and dance this week? We heard a whole bunch of different bands and a whole bunch of different music, and I’m so, so appreciative. Patti, what a beautiful way to end this session with us. This is actually the end of CityTalk this year. It’s the end of CityTalk 2020, the end of our fall season. And what a treat it’s been to share our last platform with you folks. So I want to just thank Beth and Tim and Karen and Patti and Jason, great rich chat here. Lots of resources. As I said, this will all get posted afterwards. And again, just thank you to the people of Calgary for being such warm dance partners for us to teach us- how to teach us some new dances. And I want to thank a couple of my colleagues, if I may. Robert Plitt has been our- he’s our CUI colleague based in Calgary, and he’s been working with a number of you, putting the week together. So- and continues to provide all sorts of advice as a Regional Lead for CUI. We’re very appreciative of him. And then the CityTalk production team, which is Lisa, Jamie, Selena, and Benjamin, they are- have been on all the sessions this week hearing about this. And Jamie, particularly runs CityTalk all the time for us. So I just want to- and to our CityTalk listeners and the community out there in the ether that continue to commit with all of us that we want to move to a more equitable, more just approach a post-colonial city building approach to Canadian urbanism. So thank you, everybody. I hope you have a good weekend and good luck in Alberta as you cope with more lockdowns, we’re with you across the country and we feel for you. Thanks again, everybody. Thanks.


Full Audience
Chatroom Transcript

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

15:01:58             From  Canadian Urban Institute : Welcome! Folks, please change your chat settings to “all panelists and attendees” so everyone can see your comments.

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15:03:16             From  Gay Stephenson : Hello from Vancouver!

15:03:38             From  Jessica Mitchell : Hi everyone, my name is Jessica. I’m tuning in from Mohkínstsis (Calgary Foundation)

15:04:02             From  Jason Adle   to   All panelists : Hello from Vancouver as well!

15:04:56             From  Robert Plitt : Robert also tuning in from Mohkinstis. Happy to be here with you

15:06:07             From  Shiv Ruparell   to   All panelists : Shiv here, tuning in from Mohkinstis (StrategyCorp’s Calgary office/public policy consulting). Thank you all for your time today!

15:06:27             From  Shiv Ruparell : Shiv here, tuning in from Mohkinstis (StrategyCorp’s Calgary office/public policy consulting). Thank you all for your time today!

15:06:53             From  Canadian Urban Institute : CUI extends a big thank you to our partner for today’s session, the University of Calgary School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape.

15:07:03             From  Kirsten Frankish : Hello from Oshawa! Looking forward to today’s conversations. 🙂

15:07:32             From  Abby S : hello from Toronto/Tkaronto

15:07:50             From  Canadian Urban Institute :

Beth Gignac

United Way



Jason Ribeiro

Calgary Economic Development



Patti Pon

Calgary Arts Development



Karen Gosbee

Community Action on Mental Health and Addiction Stewardship Group



Tim Fox

Calgary Foundation, Indigenous Relations & Equity Strategy



15:09:32             From  Marion Goertz : Hello from Mohkìnstsis (Calgary) and a big thank you to all of you!

15:11:11             From  Abby S : the recent report on the “whiteness”

15:12:05             From  Abby S : of Canadian private and community foundations is a wake up call. as is the amount of funding (less than 1% across the sector) that goes to black organizations. I don’t know if indigenous organizations were broken out in the report.

15:13:10             From  Robey Stothart : Hi from Mohkìnstsis (Calgary), grateful to be in your presence.

15:13:30             From  Canadian Urban Institute :

Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada:

White Goose Flying: A Report to Calgary City Council on the Indian Residential School Truth & Reconciliation Calls to Action:

15:15:41             From  Tim Fox (he/him)   to   All panelists : Strengthening Relations with Indigenous Communities Impact Report by Calgary Foundation:

15:16:01             From  Tim Fox (he/him) : Strengthening Relations with Indigenous Communities Impact Report by Calgary Foundation:

15:17:24             From  Abby S : can Beth speak to this huge transfer of wealth? where is it going? we have been told it is going to DAF etc.

15:17:42             From  Abby S : (some social impact investing at the expense of philanthropy too)

15:18:00             From  Abby S   to   All panelists : cannot hear you Mary!

15:18:18             From  Gloria Venczel : Mary- Can you pls adjust your mic? Hard to hear you.

15:19:46             From  Lindsay Luhnau : i am proud to be part of loca linvesting yyc for that reason!

15:19:49             From  Abby S : not the least of which (social investing) must address the endowments of

15:19:53             From  Abby S : yes. but

15:19:57             From  Abby S : you are faint

15:20:03             From  Faryal Diwan : I can hear fine on my end

15:20:36             From  Abby S : endowments of foundations and how those funds are used to advance missions. and the disbursement rates….

15:20:54             From  Robey Stothart : It is quiet for me as well. Perhaps try increasing the microphone input volume in Audio settings?

15:21:23             From  Abby S   to   All panelists : other panelists are all fine re volume.

15:22:14             From  Beth Gignac : endowment disbursements rates are always available through annual CRA reporting. and, yes….the generational transfer of wealth is both an opportunity and a concern.

15:24:18             From  Abby S : you are right that those discrepancies make most liveable an odd designation by ignoring widening  income gaps

15:25:57             From  Canadian Urban Institute   to   Abby S and all panelists : Hi Abby. Is the volume still low for Mary on your end?

15:27:47             From  Beth Gignac : improved strategic integration is huge immediate opportunity!

15:29:08             From  Shiv Ruparell : Calgary has a world-class MDP and CTP, both recently renewed by council. But the city doesn’t follow its own policies. You can have the best-laid plans and data to back them up as is possible, yet it’s useless if the political will isn’t there to actually execute (e.g. fine and good to talk about prioritizing density and bike lanes, yet we don’t follow up with actual investment). How do we meaningfully move forward beyond policy and towards actual execution and investment?

15:32:43             From  Beth Gignac : execution requires an integration of systems, plans and strategies based on mutually reinforcing activities which are prioritized, together. this approach requires non-political, inclusive community leadership. Patti is RIGHT….

15:33:00             From  Shiv Ruparell : @Patti – to the end to which you speak, can you think of any cities of comparable size that are models for this?

15:34:58             From  Shiv Ruparell : @Beth – Agreed in principle, but at the end of the day political leadership is what moves the dial. You can have as much community engagement and inclusive grassroots leadership as you like, but at the end of the day policy execution and investment comes down to a vote by elected officials in a Council chamber. I think everything we are talking about is great, especially re: the arts. But we can’t have this discussion in a silo that is divorced from political reality. The political reality is that you have several Councillors who, in the name of ‘fiscal responsibility’, cut already low arts funding before anything else.

15:35:53             From  Shiv Ruparell : So my genuine question to the panelists is: How can we translate this very insightful conversation into concrete outcomes?

15:38:21             From  Abby S : quiet again (Mary only)

15:41:19             From  Patti Pon (she/her) : @Shiv other cities we look to: Denver, Melbourne, Detroit, Charlotte NC, there isn’t any one perfect answer but we look for examples

15:42:34             From  Beth Gignac : the focus has to be person-centred…..self in system

15:42:57             From  Shiv Ruparell : @Patti – Awesome, thank you for providing those examples!

15:43:38             From  Nancy Close : citizen focused indeed

15:44:34             From  Shiv Ruparell : Any thought from the panelists on how the city can best seek to decolonialize the mobility (transport, transit, etc.) space?

15:46:52             From  Patti Pon (she/her) : @Shiv the first step is to be sure that the people whom you are referring to are actually at the table in a meaningful way…do they see themselves at the decision making table in a legitimate and meaningful way to THEM

15:47:21             From  Beth Gignac : design WITH vs FOR

15:47:29             From  Robert Plitt : Calgary is ahead of the curve in terms of establishing the groundwork for transformative change since 2014. Its a great size and has tremendous assets. Post Covid Calgary may very well lead the way on equity, inclusion reconciliation and mental heath.

15:47:37             From  Abby S : the concept of learning as another form of extraction is really enlightening.

15:47:53             From  Nancy Close : yes, and already being surfaced through Listen and Learn sessions on current status of MH and Addiction in our city

15:48:15             From  Joni carroll : So grateful every time I have a chance to hear you speak, Tim.

15:48:21             From  Robert Plitt : love it – post colonial city building

15:49:33             From  Shiv Ruparell : I like the with vs. for framing thank you @Beth. Thank you @Patti for your response too.

15:58:05             From  Beth Gignac : accreditation is a long-standing problem and is based on colonial racism.

15:58:49             From  Lisa Cavicchia   to   All panelists :

15:59:26             From  Beth Gignac : 211 data from across our country are telling us that mental health is THE biggest challenge

15:59:29             From  Jason Ribeiro   to   All panelists :

15:59:39             From  Jason Ribeiro :

15:59:47             From  Canadian Urban Institute : The Indigenomics Institute is an Indigenous economic advisory for public governments, Indigenous communities and the private sector:

15:59:49             From  Beth Gignac : check out 8-80 Cities for inclusive city-building

15:59:59             From  Jason Ribeiro :

16:00:28             From  Jason Ribeiro :

16:00:35             From  Nancy Close : fantastic quote  Patti

16:00:43             From  Canadian Urban Institute : Keep the conversation going #citytalk @canurb

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16:01:09             From  Beth Gignac : we all need to think and act in systems!!

16:02:16             From  Faryal Diwan : Thank you!

16:02:21             From  Abby S : thank you Mary and CUI. dosage holidays to all. I will miss you the next few weeks!! city talk was amazing

16:02:27             From  Rania Hiri   to   All panelists : Thank you!

16:02:37             From  Beth Gignac : Thanks CUI for your openness and humble curiosity.

16:02:37             From  Abby S : a happy healthy equitable just new year

16:02:37             From  Patti Pon (she/her) : Verna Mayes Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to Dance! Equity is choosing the Band

16:02:38             From  Julie McGuire   to   All panelists : thank you

16:02:38             From  Lisa Cavicchia   to   All panelists : And thank you Abby!

16:02:43             From  Gloria Venczel : Thank you!!