Lessons from the Local: How are Calgary and Edmonton responding to urban challenges?
A roundup of the most compelling ideas, themes and quotes from this candid conversation
“Times of great tension can be followed by times of great transcendence.”
Naheed Nenshi, Mayor of Calgary, speaks of our current situation and the five crises happening simultaneously, “the public health crisis, mental health and addictions crisis that was always here but was exacerbated by the public health crisis, a deep economic crisis, an environmental crisis and coming to a reckoning with the reality of what climate change means not just to our environment, but to our economy. And probably the most important and the hardest one is a conversation about equity.”
While any one of those on its own is a massive crisis, it’s also an opportunity for “great creative potential.” There’s been tremendous work done to map out strategies to respond to each of these crisis’, however, Nenshi notes, “none of this means anything unless we actually do it.” Warning against the complacency of returning to ‘normal’, Nenshi declares, “I don’t want to return to normalcy. I want to take the lessons that we’ve learned in this last year about what works and what doesn’t work in our community and build something stronger.”
A holistic approach is required to unlock the potential that exists in everyone
Ashlyn Bernier, Chief Operating Officer of tech start-up SamDesk, wants city builders to think of talent much more broadly than post-secondary graduates. She implores us to consider talent as diverse as the populations that inhabit our cities and to take a more holistic approach to considering talent. She warns that, “talent cannot meet its potential if that individual is persecuted, if they do not have food security, if they do not have a home, if they do not have their health, mental or otherwise, if they are a target.” Removing the impediments to full participation in our cities will open up new avenues for residents to shape their communities for the better, utilizing lived experience to inform planning processes.
The recognition of truth must come before real reconciliation
The Kamloops residential school tragedy has brought Indigenous pain and grief to the national spotlight. LeeAnne Ireland, Executive Director of the Urban Society for Aboriginal Youth, calls on non-Indigenous Canadians to join Indigenous peoples in holding space, to process uncomfortable truths about this country together and to carry some of this burden. Nenshi says, “You can’t just lump truth and reconciliation into anti-racism. This is an incredibly important moment for Canada to acknowledge the worst part of what we have been.”
In addition to holding space, non-Indigenous people need to begin the work of “decolonizing our brains,” according to Iverson. In response to the Truth and Reconciliation report, the City of Edmonton revitalized Edmonton’s central library—The Thunderbird House—to provide a dedicated space for Indigenous ceremony and gatherings, as well as an Elder-in-Residence program. Similarly, Fort Edmonton’s museum history programming now begins with the pre-colonial Indigenous experience, as oppose to the arrival of European settlers that we have been traditionally taught. These experiential learning opportunities provide non-Indigenous Canadians the means to educate themselves.
Calgary and Edmonton lead the country in leveraging social infrastructure
Calgary’s Community Associations and Edmonton’s unique Community Leagues are indicative of urban Albertans’ spirit and tradition of grassroots collaboration. Mohamed Elsaghir is the Senior Manager of C5 North East Community Hub. C5 is the “the future of inter-agency collaboration,” and includes five agencies who banded together and pooled their resources to provide effective and holistic services in what was once considered a “service desert” in northeast Edmonton. They collectively serve 30,000 people and support families who are often overwhelmed by the system and connect them to the services they need.
According to Elsaghir, they developed the hub to enable community groups to come together in an inclusive space to destigmatized the notion of the other. Collaboration is fostered through formal and informal linkages resulting in greater inclusivity for everyone.
Albertans’ clean tech prowess is slated to drive the next round of prosperity
Aurum Energy Park in Edmonton will become the hub for Western Canada’s hydrogen economy. Blue hydrogen production utilizes natural gas, carbon capture and storage technology. By leverage Alberta’s existing needs, the project aims to capture 95 percent of its carbon emissions. With $1.3 billion of investment and 2,500 construction and engineering jobs created, the hydrogen production facility will provide a clean energy source to supplement Alberta’s energy grid and fuel every provincial transit agency.
Mayor Iveson is confident that, “this region [Edmonton] can punch above its weight and be a global player in the energy economy.” Edmonton is also the first Canadian municipality to include a carbon budget within its development and transportation master plans.
Edmonton’s Aurum Energy Park https://www.focusequities.com/aurum-energy-park/index.html
New blue hydrogen energy complex in Edmonton announced with $1.3 billion investment https://edmontonjournal.com/news/politics/new-blue-hydrogen-energy-complex-in-edmonton-announced-with-1-3-billion-investment
Stanley A. Milner Library – Thunderbird House https://www.epl.ca/milner-library/thunderbird-house/
Calgary On Purpose https://www.calgaryonpurpose.com/
CUI – Calgary Transforms https://canurb.org/publications/calgary-transforms/
CUI – Edmonton Activates https://canurb.org/publications/edmonton-activates/
C5 Northeast Community Hub https://www.edmontonnortheasthub.com/
Urban Society for Aboriginal Youth https://usay.ca/
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 firstname.lastname@example.org with “transcription” in the subject line.
Mary Rowe [00:00:46] Hi, everybody, it’s Mary Rowe from the Canadian Urban Institute. We always wait a few minutes to wait until people zoom in because it takes time for people to register and be admitted. And the panellists all sit there panicked, thinking, oh, my God, when isn’t Mary going to say, we’re ready to go, let’s go. So we’re going. This is it. And I’m pleased to have you all back to city talk. We’re doing this. I appreciate this. We’re doing this midday mountain time, which is nice for us. Too often we are at 12:00 or 1:00 Eastern. So this time we’re at 1:00 Mountain. Thanks gang and on a Friday of all things, too. And at a time when Canada is coming to terms with a whole bunch of things, more reckonings. Honestly, I I’ve talked with both of these mayors through the pandemic. And every time we talk, there’s something else that we’re having to reckon with, not something that’s new, but something that’s probably been festering for a while. And then it comes to the surface and here we are. So what a great privilege to have some Calgarians and some Edmontonians to talk with us. As the country once again is reeling with new disclosures, new new awarenesses around Indigenous violations and how the challenge of reconciliation continues to pose. I think a profound question for us is how we build cities and how we build communities in this country. I happen to be today in Syracuse, New York, where my sister is having surgery, and so I’m here to support her. This is the traditional territory of the Oneida and the Onondaga First Nation, several First Nations on the periphery of Syracuse, New York. And I’m sure that my western colleagues will identify that ancestral lands in which they’re speaking from.
Mary Rowe [00:02:13] This week has been a great week for CUI because we’ve been focussing all on the CUI x Local program, which we fashioned after TED x Local and where we spend a week or several days working and in communities and hearing from folks what’s important to their city, what’s working, what’s not, what’s next. We only just started this program last year because we really felt it was important. CUI was in the connective tissue business and we thought it was really important that we actually create some opportunities for community leaders of different in different in different sectors and different ways of engaging to meet with us and meet with each other, to talk about their particular cities and their neighbourhoods within the city. And so we decided last year when we launched this program was we got some financial support, which was terrific from TD and from Maytree. And we decided we wanted to focus initially on two cities in Alberta. We thought it was important that the country pay attention to these two cities that we’re in the midst of, this is before before COVID, they were in the midst of extraordinary transitions already. And we thought, well, let’s let’s put a spotlight on those two cities, Edmonton and Calgary, and hear from them. What are the things that they’re challenged by? What are the what are the interesting solutions that they’re coming up with and what do they see as the potential of their places? And we just thought that, as is often the case, cities have a certain kind of stereotype that potentially gets perpetuated over time. And we thought, well, wouldn’t it be interesting for the rest of Canada to hear what’s really going on in Edmonton and what’s really going on in Calgary? So we started with you two and we’re with you late, late, late last year. And then this week we’ve been in Windsor and Windsor came to us and said, we want to do a CUI x Local, too. We think that we’re we think that we’re in transition, that we’re special, too. And so we’ve just had most of the week in Windsor. So there will be another iteration of this coming forward. So we are releasing today reports Edmonton Activates and Calgary Transforms and they are on the CUI website. I’m sure people will put them in the chat so people can look at them. They’re intended to be provocations. Lots of folks from each of these cities were engaged in helping us create these documents. And they’re only a starting point. This is this is not this is not the Bible or the Torah on these cities. This is just a place, a beginning to be able to start to highlight: what are we watching? What what what are you paying attention to? Where do you think there are areas where things are going? Well, where do you think there are areas where you’re up against something that’s tough? And are there going to be ways that across the country city builders can support one another and say, hey, we’ve tried this or who? Look what they’re doing. So that’s really the purpose of these this program CUI x Local and wonderful for us to have CityTalk, this forum where we get each of the mayors to provide us a bit of a snapshot of where they think their cities are at right now, and also some colleagues from different sectors in those cities to also comment who participated in the CUI x Local sessions and who have their fingers on their pulse of the piece that they know in their cities. So thanks, everybody, for joining us. Really great. And this has really been a wonderful learning. We were we were telling the Windsorites that after we finished the Edmonton CUI x Local, we all fell in love with Edmonton. We all wanted to move to Edmonton. And then we went to Calgary and we all fell in love with Calgary. And so now they all want to decamped Windsor just saying. So there’s something really fabulous about these kinds of opportunities to actually get in touch with people working on the ground and where urbanism really starts and where urbanism fundamentally matters. So I’m going to go to you first Don if I may, the Mayor of Edmonton, to just give us a bit of a picture of what you’re seeing out your out your front door. And what you think the kinds of key opportunities and challenges are. Just a couple of minutes on that, then I’m going to go to Mayor Nenshi and then I’ll go to the others, and then it’s a bunfight for the remainder of the time. So over to you. Thanks for joining us.
Mayor Don Iveson [00:05:59] Let me attempt to be uncharacteristically brief, since the bunfight sounds really attractive on this Friday and I’m looking out my window. I’m here at City Hall, where I have often been alone during this pandemic or with the skeleton crew at City Hall. And I’m looking out at Churchill Square, which has it looks like more people in it than I’ve seen in quite a while. We got the fountain running again in front of City Hall. The families here enjoying it, people picnicking in front of City Hall with takeout. And so as restarting happens and I gather the Premier’s just announced that the next phase of restart is going to go ahead for Canada Day. There is a lot of pent up demand for city life and for engagement and community. A nd it has been a tough slog here as everywhere else, but particularly in this great northern city, which is, you know, one of the stats that’s always interested me is that 90 percent of Canadians live within a two hour drive of the US border and half of everybody else lives in Edmonton or Edmonton region. And it really is kind of unto itself. Right. And it is the northernmost major city on the continent, except the mayor of Anchorage gives me a hard time when I say that. But but certainly in the Canadian context, you know, we are not just a jumping off point, but the gathering place for for a big part of Canada’s north. And with that comes, of course, our relationship with winter. And at this time of year comes the almost midnight sun. We don’t quite get midnight sun. But I was on a rooftop patio with a good friend of mine in the real estate business last night talking about what’s happening in real estate in our city, which is on fire and in distress in a variety of different ways. So, so much disruption, so much transition happening. But we lost track of time because it was still light at almost 11:00 at night last night. So so it’s that it’s that time of year here in Edmonton where there is things, you know, spring is in full expression and and we soak up the summer and the and the late sun is just inspiring for people. And I think that is the mood of the place right now. Notwithstanding unemployment still in the double digits, though, it’s coming down. It’s it’s still just above 10 percent, which is a lot. There’s still tremendous uncertainty for many organisations and institutions. There are a lot of complexities which we can get into with the government of Alberta and misalignment when it comes to economic development strategy, talent strategy, brand. They’re coming around to ESG, but they’re very late to the party, which I think has cost us a significant amount of opportunity. But maybe I’ll end with this because I think there’s a lot more we can talk about. I’m really curious what the my fellow Albertans and Edmontonians will have to say on this panel. And we’ve got some great people on the panel here. Is that, you know, as an energy superpower and particularly having great prowess as energy problem solvers here in Edmonton. The announcement last week with air products committing to a 1.3 billion dollar net zero hydrogen plant, sorry, net zero hydrogen plant with the liquefaction facility for transportation fuels and and a serious runway to double or triple that investment. And the scale of that plan represents a major industrial play in energy transition and green jobs. And it’s 2500 construction jobs for tradespeople building energy infrastructure. That looks a lot like the energy infrastructure we built for the last generation. So it doesn’t require massive retooling. It’s not science fiction. It’s not new technology we have to buy from someone else. It’s systems integration, which we’re good at. It’s precision fabrication, which we’re good at is process optimisation, which we’re good at. It’s carbon capture and storage, which we’re good at. And all the things came together. And on this one, the all the orders of government managed to find a way to work together to land the investment. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. And here’s the best part. I’ve been championing this hydrogen stuff because environmentally for climate change, we need it as a transition fuel from an ESG perspective. I know this region can punch way above its weight and be a global player in the energy economy, which is actually coming together faster than most people realise. But ultimately, I assumed most of this heavy industry would be out in the region. And for a variety of reasons, Air Products has actually chosen to locate it inside the boundaries of the City of Edmonton in the Aurum Energy Park. And so that’ll be an industrial tax base lift directly to the City of Edmonton over time. So I didn’t go into it thinking we were going to get that, that’s a bonus. But the potential of the hydrogen economy in particular and the spin offs to retrofit technology to energy systems, all of the other systems integration pieces of the hydrogen economy are where, you know, the clean tech prowess of Albertans and the expertise of NAIT Polytechnic and the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary, and all these assets, industry and public across across Alberta, can come to bear to really drive the next round of prosperity for us here. So I’ll stop there. And obviously, I’m on a hopeful note right now, but there are many counter indicators we could talk about, too. But I’ll leave it there and eager to hear what others have to say.
Mary Rowe [00:11:37] And watchword is hydrogen. There’s been some media coverage that we’ve been reading, too, about the hydrogen, because, as you say, it’s much further along than most people realise. And I think that’s part of what we are trying to highlight in these reports, is that there’s a lot of things percolating that people don’t actually appreciate and don’t realise. Mayor Nenshi, how are you and how are things in Calgary? I should just both mention that just mentioned that both of these mayors actually are finishing their terms. Just saying. It’s said we’re all going to be sad to have you, but I’m sure you’re both going to something really interesting. But you’ve been you continue to be such vibrant urban leaders in Canada where I hope your replacements are equally dynamic and equally committed as the two of you have been and continue to be because you’re not gone yet. Go ahead welcome Naheed. Nice to see you again.
Mayor Naheed Nenshi [00:12:21] Thanks very much, Mary and Don. That actually was uncharacteristically brief. Wow. I’ll try and continue that as well. And I’m certain that we will be replaced by people both smarter and better looking than us. And I’m certain that Don has a very bright future. Anyway, I am feeling optimistic about where we are right now as well, because you got to be when you’re the mayor. But we’ve been through a lot. And so this last year, I like to talk about how we have dealt with five simultaneous crises that should have take any one of which should have brought us to our knees. So, of course, we’ve had a public health crisis and we have to honour that. And I’ll just open a bracket here, which is people have been through a lot. They’ve lost a lot. They’ve lost loved ones. They’ve lost financial security. And when I hear certain politicians who shall remain unnamed go on and on about how because of their brilliance, we’re going to have the best summer ever. You know, folks who are finally organising the funeral for their grandmother are not, in fact, going to have the best summer ever. And what we really need to do is think of this time of optimism and this time of transition as an opportunity to say, let’s honour what we’ve been through, let’s honour the people who got us through it, and let’s use this as a time to build something better. And I don’t like it when people say we’re returning to normalcy. I don’t want to return to normalcy. I want to take the lessons that we’ve learned in this last year about what works and what doesn’t work in our community and build something stronger. And so five simultaneous crises: the public health crisis, mental health and addictions crisis that was always here but was exacerbated by the public health crisis, a deep economic crisis, an environmental crisis and coming to a reckoning with the reality of what climate change means not just to our environment, but to our economy. And probably the most important and the hardest one is a conversation about equity. That we finally, as Canadians have to come to a reckoning with the fact that we must hold simultaneously our incredible pride in what we’ve accomplished as a pluralistic, diverse, multicultural place. Irfhan and I are religious and ethnic minorities within minorities, within minorities, there’s no where in the world we would be a majority. And yet we have accomplished things for ourselves and our families in this country that would not be possible anywhere else. So, no, we’re not cancelling Canada Day. We’ve got a lot to celebrate. But at the same time, we’ve got to take that piece and we have to align it with the fact that it’s not good enough. It’s not good enough to strive to be not racist. We have to move to be truly anti-racist and we don’t know what that means and we don’t know what that journey is, but we know we have to get on it. And so ultimately, we’ve got those five things all happening at once, any one of which is a massive crisis. But to me, that also means it’s a time of great creative potential. I had a professor in university, Dr. Ron Glassberg, who used to talk about the cyclical nature of time. And one of these days, I have to send him an email and get him to correct what I’m saying, because I know I’ve got it wrong. Wasn’t that good a student. But basically the idea is that, “times of great tension can be followed by times of great transcendence.” And so there really is an opportunity for us to take all of this and say, all right, so that cliche build back stronger, build back better, what does that actually mean? And so about a month ago here in Calgary, council unanimously passed Canada’s first community action plan on mental health and addiction. I will tell you, that is not only by far the most important thing I’ve ever done as a politician. It’s probably the most important thing I’ve done in my life. And getting to work on these kinds of things, in addition to climate strategies, economic development strategies, poverty reduction strategies, anti-racism strategies – can you tell I used to be strategy consultant? – and our downtown strategy. None of this means anything unless we actually do it. The most we actually think about how we fundamentally make changes in people’s lives to create a more prosperous future for all of us. So that is our goal here. And that’s me being uncharacteristically brief.
Mary Rowe [00:16:56] And you know, one thing that I notice about both of you and it comes through, particularly in the Edmonton report, but you’ve just signalled that as well and that in terms of Calgary, neither of you have ever been to fussed about whether it’s your jurisdiction to deal with something. You know, here we are. This is one of the larger points that the CUI is about, is to try to make the case that issues that issues of national significance actually manifest in at the local level and that municipal governments need the resources and the authority to be able to tackle these challenges without actually getting permission or resources from the provincial and federal governments. And in the case of homelessness, Don, you guys just waded in and said it’s and Juliana is quoted in the report saying, we just realised we just had to do it. And you’ve just signalled that in terms of mental health as well. So I’m just I don’t want you to comment on it right this minute because I want to get the others in. But I do think this piece about, you know, the old adage now, don’t wait for a, better to ask for forgiveness than better. Was that right? What is it guys? Ask for forgiveness, not permission. That notion that you just have to step in. And I’m just interested if we’re going to move into an era where that’s that’s what you’ve had to do during COVID you just had to step in. You didn’t spend a lot of time saying, well, whose jurisdiction is it actually to deal with the fact that this tragedy is unfolding in front of us? Ashlyn, let’s go to you first in Edmonton and then I’m going to go next, then to Irfhan, and then I’ll come to you, LeeAnne, and then Mohamed I’ll be to you. Go ahead, Ashlyn.
Ashlyn Bernier [00:18:20] Sure. So I imagine just sort of the same spiel who I am, I don’t think I’m as well known as our two mayors on this call. So briefly, I’m Ashlyn. I am chief operating officer of SamDesk, Edmonton technology start-up. We build a real time alerting tool that detects emergency and disruptive events globally. Building off the great words and thoughts we heard from our two mayors. What I would like to comment on today to hopefully spur some thought and discussion is around talent. And when I say talent, I’m not just talking about our technology community and university graduates as being talent. I’m talking about talent as being diverse talent as being more and more socially conscious and interested in things beyond just sort of the the locus of what they might be building or working on. In both Edmonton and Calgary have excellent post-secondary institutions that attract incredible talent from all over the world. But when we think about unlocking the potential that’s alluded to in the in the report, we have to think about talent so much more broadly than just university graduates. And I think that if we think about talent holistically and building off some of the points that you just made, Mayor Nenshi. Talent exists in everyone, and that talent cannot meet its potential if that individual is persecuted, if they do not have food security, if they do not have a home, if they do not have their health, mental or otherwise, if they are a target. So I think the key to unlocking the potential of our cities lies in unlocking talent. And it just speaks to sort of the holistic nature of all of the challenges and opportunities discussed the report and how truly intertwined they are, because without addressing some of the challenges that were already mentioned, we are not going to unlock the inherent talent that exists in every Calgarian, in every Edmontonians to contribute to the opportunity that we know is in front of us right now. The the growth of the innovation ecosystem, our tech ecosystem, just truly being a small part of that that is just dependent on the broader fabric of each of our cities and our province as a whole.
Mary Rowe [00:20:49] As you say, though, it’s sort of it’s sort of an illustrator of the same, the impediments in the tech sector are also the impediments in the social service sector are also the impediments in the other sectors. Yeah. Irfhan.
Irfhan Rawji [00:21:04] Well, thanks, Mary, for for having me and mayors for your opening comments. My name is Irfhan. I am an investor and entrepreneur. I’m a managing partner at a venture capital firm called Relay Ventures. And I’m also the founder and CEO of Mob Squad, which is a technology talent company that brings technology talent from around the world to Canada. I really wanted to, Ashlyn, I think your comments are spot on in terms of creating environments that talent wants to be in. And that’s a critical thing that cities do. And not just like it’s not just the bureaucracy or the politicians. It’s all of us as citizens. Like we have to do this together. You can’t just say, well, they’re in charge of that. It’s the environment we create in totality together and thinking about what Mayor Nenshi was saying, you know, I was reflecting on the fact that sometimes under extreme pressure, you create diamonds. Right. And so you actually need to have maybe a lot of bad things happen before you’re able to create something great out of it. It is the same from attention to transcendence point that the Mayor made. And I think about all this pressure that Calgary’s been under over the last five or six years, multiple times. Right. Like a flood and then an oil crisis and then another oil crisis and the pandemic in a mental health crisis and all the things that the mayor spoke about. But I think actually I’m very hopeful because I personally believe we’re starting to see gems in our city come from this. So let me give you like three or four examples. The first Arts Commons and its transformation, a two hundred and forty million dollar investment that we’re making as a city into building a leading performing arts space in the country. Yesterday, Glenbow Museum announced one hundred and thirty five million dollar revitalisation campaign to build one of the leading art museums in North America. If you think about citizen action groups like Calgary On Purpose, people coming together and saying, actually, we’re going to do something about this, and politicians even agreeing on a downtown strategy and plan in Calgary that I think is going to be quite transformational to move more residential units into open, empty office space. And so I think we’re starting to see some of that, Mary, to reflect also then on how you open with how does the rest of Canada see our city or our province? I’m hopeful they’re going to start seeing some of these gems and realise this is not a city of ‘ors’. It’s not oil and gas or technology. It’s a city of ‘ands’. It’s not the Calgary Stampede and ranching lifestyle or leading cultural entertainment and arts and cultural institutions in the country. It’s both. It’s and. It’s not just an inexpensive place to live. It’s also a great place to raise a family. It’s not just the mountains. It’s also great nightlife and restaurants and activities downtown. And I think we have to work really hard to tell that story because I believe that there actually is a product that is different than people’s beliefs.
Mary Rowe [00:23:53] Absolutely. Thanks Irfhan. We’ll stay on Calgary, go to you, LeeAnne, and then I’m going to come to Mohamed. Do you want to riff on what you’ve just heard from Irfhan there, LeeAnne. Or go your own way, girl. Take it, take it in a different direction. You go for it.
LeeAnne Ireland [00:24:07] Sure. So I’m probably the least known. My name’s LeeAnne Ireland. I’m the executive director at the Urban Society for Aboriginal Youth and also have a consulting company where I primarily work with Indigenous people. I’m a mixed race person. My my family’s Annishnabec, from Treaty 1 lands treaty area. You know, the question of like looking out your window and what do you see. Right now in the Indigenous, the urban Indigenous community I see collective grief and a collective sense of grieving right now. And I see the sort of emotional labour and the emotional burden that our Indigenous people are carrying. And I hate to use the word discovery because I feel like Indigenous people always knew that those children were in those graves, you know, and and when we talk about Kamloops and Brandon, Manitoba and all of these new discoveries, for lack of a better word, I think that, you know, the just the enormity of the grief that our community is feeling right now is super overwhelming. And so what I see is just exhaustion in our community and the the conflict of the responsibility to honour those children, but also trying to balance self care. And I see a lot of our community trying to hold space instead of focussing on themselves and reconciling their own feelings. I feel like a lot of our community is trying to hold space to create good allyship amongst non-Indigenous people in our community. And so I think that we’re having sort of an inability to feel like reconciliation is even possible right now. And we’re our community is really hoping that others sit in the truth of what’s happening and really focus on the truth versus reconciliation and sort of not moving beyond this imperative and, you know, this grief that we’re all feeling and then recognising it and being part of it. And, you know, I’ve I mostly have been in meetings for the last two weeks where people are are crying, they’re grieving, they’re openly emotional. And so we’re really much what I see in Calgary and what I see for urban Indigenous people is that grief and and the request that non-Indigenous people start to enter into that space with us and take on some of that emotional labour and that emotional burden and be okay with being uncomfortable and sitting in truth with us and not requesting too much of the community right now. And so, yeah, so that’s sort of what I’m seeing right now is just this overwhelming grief. And so I think that that’s important. That’s that’s sort of a crisis of equity. And, you know, and I as I look into our city, I see us holding strong to an anti-racist agenda and moving forward with activities that support that sort of messaging. But I think it’s imperative that we give space for grief and truth right now. And so that’s sort of where I see my community at. And thank you for having me.
Mary Rowe [00:27:38] Thank you for sharing that. And your Mayor said at the outset that so many, we’re dealing with so many crises at once. And as you suggest, yours is multigenerational. And so you have we have to add on all the other the pressures of COVID and everything and the mental health, all that stuff on top of multigenerational trauma, disadvantage and oppression. Right. And and now, as you say, it’s now sort of all conflating into one big, yeah. So that’s interesting. I want to come back to that about how we hold space because cities are about places and spaces and can we can we create that space, as you just suggested? And I think of London, Ontario, also dealing with a very vivid, anti-racist, racist act and how are they holding space? So it’s all popping up in different kinds of ways. It’s maybe these are things that pre-existed COVID, these kinds of tensions and injustice. And then during COVID. Yeah, all it’s all of it’s coming. Right. OK, Mohamed, I’m going to come to you next and then we’ll open it up for everyone to participate. Go ahead, Mohamed.
Mohamed Elsaghir [00:28:53] Hi, everybody, thanks, Mary, for having me. My name is Mahamed. I’m also here I am the director of the C5 Northeast Community Hub and Market here in Edmonton. My pronouns are he and him, and the things that I’m seeing on the ground I echo very much what a lot of panellists have said. I’m specifically speaking the things that we have to come into consideration with truth and reconciliation and specifically recognising the truth and recognising where we are in our journey with our Indigenous community members and all of our community members as a whole. We have a lot of work to do in it, and there’s a lot of like Mary Rowe saying, holding space. And I do believe these are difficult conversations that need to be had. And through all of these conversations, we will come out stronger. But like LeeAnne has said, we need to give time for grief. We need to give space, we need to give opportunities, and we need to let people deal with the generational trauma that not all of us can relate to and maybe someone can relate to, but not everybody can relate to it. And we need to to really recognise where we stand in making it a better place for for everyone and for our Indigenous community members specifically speaking. Furthermore, I see a lot of a lot of I’m cautiously optimistic about the restart that’s going to happen. Why am I cautiously optimistic? First of all, obviously, like Mayor Iveson said, the the unemployment rate is quite high at 10 percent. But that’s that’s down to recover at some point. And there’s going to be a lot of opportunities for non-traditional industries or non-traditional people or not people that are working with different skills to to to use their skills and move their skills into different industries as well. So there’ll be lots of opportunities for that. I’m cautiously optimistic about the recovery that will happen in terms of employment. And but there’s a lot of a lot of things that have happened that the pandemic has exasperated. There’ve have been concerns beforehand, but I’ve been exasperated really difficultly by the pandemic. Two big issues that I that I’ve I’ve noticed on the ground. One is the food security and the food insecurity. We call it food security. We call it food insecurity. It’s hunger. That’s what it is. There are hungry people in our communities that are there in need of these types of supports and the traditional ways of providing food security, although they’ve been around forever. There’s there’s new models that have been started and there’s new things that have been happening. One of the models that we’ve started is the community market, which which is is is is a new way of delivering that food insecurity. There is other models that will pop up. But it’s something that has been prevalent within our communities. And just the epidemic has exacerbated a lot more. On the plus side of that, what we’ve seen the pandemic do is bring a lot of organisations together, bring a lot of collaboration together. And these are how are we going to solve a lot of the problems that we are facing, whether it be food security or homelessness, which is another big concern that I’ve seen. And it’s not just houselessness, I mean homelessness. And I have to give kudos to Mayor Iveson and Mayor Nenshi for stepping outside of their jurisdictions and doing and things that that are outside of their jurisdiction. Specifically homelessness is something that I know Mayor Iveson take quite seriously and and is very, very passionate about. And we’ve seen things that have have have have changed in terms of that. We seen a great response in terms of that COVID response. There’s gaps, though. There’s still there’s still gaps in affordable housing and people accessing affordable housing and community members needing a sort of a bridge or sort of support and what that model will look like and happening. I’m not one hundred percent sure, but I know or our government, our sector, the social service sector, private businesses to come together, landlords come together to figure out stopgap solutions for community members because it’s not OK for a family to wait five years before they can get into affordable housing. And when all their income when we know that 30 percent of your income max home should be tied to your housing and we have 60 to 70 percent tied to a family, how are they expected to survive in terms of that? So, again, I’m cautiously optimistic about the things that are happening. I know the feds have released some funding that that that will eventually trickle down and we will see it and I don’t know, levels and be able to do something. But it’s imperative on us as as all of these service providers, as citizens, to be engaged in the collaborative way of doing things. The C5 where I where I work is a collaboration of five different organisations. It is messy at times, but a lot more things can happen when we all come together into sectoral partnerships are key to moving forward in moving forward what we want to see happen. And of course, the anti-racism movement that we’re seeing, it’s key. I mean, we need to be able to, again, use that term, hold space for different groups. Social inclusion is huge. Part of why we developed our community hub is to have community groups come together and say we have an inclusive space for people and so we have different groups, whether it be intergenerational or multicultural, be able to connect with each other. So we so we get rid of that stigmatised notion of the other so we can really relate to each other and really connect with each other and start to have really strong and meaningful conversations and start to become better. Like Mayor Nenshi said, we are not going to go back to normal. We’re going to get better, but we have to go back and really analyse where we are, really see where we’re are, and then recognise where we need to get better, where we need to fix ourselves and have those conversations. One last thing I’m going to say, because it’s not all gloom and doom. The volunteerism I’ve seen. The community coming together. I mean, this is something we would have never I mean, you can’t tell anybody that we would have had a pandemic. Nobody would have believed us. And we would have all said, oh, it’s terrible, it’s horrible. And it has been going. And my heart goes out to everybody that’s been touched by it. The volunteerism that we have seen out of this and community coming together to support it each other has been something that I have, I I’m blown away. We have had over one hundred volunteers come through our community hub and our market just wanted to give back, wanting to support, dropping off emergency supplies, doing different things that need to happen. So this is our city. This is this is the reality. I know it’s the same in Calgary as well. And we’ve seen it across the nation. Excuse me, but there are some learnings we’re going to need to take from what we’ve gone through and some really some some hard looks in the mirror. But once we’ve done that, I know the work will be done and we’ll be able to to build for that better future. So.
Mary Rowe [00:35:34] Thanks, Mohamed. It is a question about all these I mean, hundreds and hundreds and thousands of Canadians have had to engage in their neighbourhoods in different ways over the last 16 months. They they had to respond or they found some way to do it, or they’ve got a Facebook group. We have a whole platform called CityShare Canada, where people where we’re highlighting and my colleague Lisa Cavicchia is running that program and she highlights, you know, spontaneous kinds of innovative stuff that people come up with and don’t want to lose that momentum. So I just want to go to Mayor Nenshi to respond to LeeAnne’s concern about holding space, because, you know, we have a lot of good will out there, a lot of goodwill over the last several months. And I’m curious how first to you Mayor Nenshi then Mayor Iveson, how you guys as mayors see your city providing that kind of opportunity to do collective problem solving, but collective grief holding in that kind of thing. Mayor Nenshi first.
Mayor Naheed Nenshi [00:36:29] It’s like your psychic Mary. That is exactly what I wanted to respond to. And first of all, let me just say, Ashlyn, Mohamed, what a pleasure to meet you virtually. Thank you for all of that. That’s really something. Irfhan and I go way, way back. And LeeAnne is super famous in my mind, because you say the organisation that she runs is just the Urban Society for Aboriginal Youth is an extraordinary group. I’ve known them for a long time and they do important work every day. But LeeAnne if you don’t mind, I just wanted to underscore something you said, which is to live in our discomfort. And I think that’s really important because I, too, have had a lot of meetings where there’s been a lot of crying in the last little while, and in some ways I’ve sort of felt a bit. It’s difficult for me to say. But when we learnt about the two hundred and fifteen children in Kamloops, we saw #215. I got to tell you, the only thing the first thing in my mind was what about the other 5800? Because we’ve always known, we’ve known for a long time, we’ve known since 1907. So on the one hand, I feel a bit churlish. You know, you should have known. You should have known before. But on the other hand, I think if this is the moment, maybe it’s because we’re vulnerable because of COVID. Maybe it’s because every parent hug their kids a little bit tighter when they heard about Kamloops, I don’t know. But I’m not above taking the moments and saying this is the moment we need to finally move forward on something. Never mind that we should have always known it might be too late, but it’s not too little. And so I think that this is really critical. And I want to really highlight this, because I’m a little bit concerned that even when I first spoke about equity and anti-racism, I didn’t highlight that. You can’t just lump truth, I love that, and reconciliation into anti-racism. You know, this is an incredibly important moment for Canada to acknowledge the worst part of what we what we have been. And we need to be able to get it right, and I’ve spent, as Lee-Anne would know, I spent a lot of my time over the last several years with Indigenous peoples doing a lot of this work. And there’s gestures and there’s symbols and they’re important. And yes, we rename that bridge to the Reconciliation Bridge, and we walked across it in silence with all the elders to symbolise where we were trying to go together. And that’s important. But you know, what’s even more important is it’s time to stop dithering. It’s time for us to say once and for all there are things we need to do, real decisions, real money to actually look at how we ensure that Indigenous peoples are partners in our future and partners in a prosperous life with dignity. And I know that sounds like a politician thing to say, but there are real things that need to be done. If if Don had a boil water advisory in Edmonton, it would be solved in a day. Maybe a week, if the pipes were really bad and it was minus 40. We know how to do this. The longest boil water advisory I’ve had in Calgary in 11 years was three hours. Why aren’t we doing it?
Mary Rowe [00:39:48] Don?
Mayor Don Iveson [00:39:51] Well, first of all, my Cree friends here would say tapwewin, LeeAnne, tapwewin which means truth in Cree, and I should have started by acknowledging that I’m coming to here from Amiskwacîwâskahikan, which is the Cree name for for Edmonton and Treaty 6 territory. And to say that people say, why do you say that? Why do you talk about that? Well, that is that is first of all, it’s true. So let’s start with truth. It is a gesture of reconciliation. Treaty acknowledgement is one of the calls to action from the TRC. People say, well, what does that mean? Well, you have to do them right. But more importantly than that, it’s respect and it’s decolonization. And so. Well, I. I completely agree. And I have held space with elders and youth here and people from all walks of life. I walked over to the legislature where a memorial had had been established informally of children’s shoes and candles and artwork and stuffed animals, and stood and cried with Indigenous and non-Indigenous people from all over this region who had come there to pay their respects. But it was the conversations I saw between. Between newcomers and Indigenous people who were doing reconciliation and sharing truth. And to the extent that I mean, it really does matter what leaders do, but it is demystifying the other and and and unpacking the the stigmas and the stereotypes and meeting each other in our common humanity, which is what happens when there is mass grieving happening. And so I echo and honour exactly what LeeAnne said. And I’ve heard that firsthand from our elders and my friends in the Indigenous community. This has brought back an awful lot of pain. And I hear what Mayor Nenshi said. To the extent that this is, you know, for many in the Indigenous community, like, where have you been for the last hundred and fifty years? And yet and yet, if this is finally what it takes to tip awareness and empathy into a broad national sustained conversation, if this is something we cannot unlearn, if this is something that we cannot now forget or compartmentalise again away, then that doesn’t justify the deaths or the violence or any of the other wrongs of colonial practise. But it should laser like, focus us on what we can do. And so I wrote an op ed in the Edmonton Journal describing the overrepresentation of Indigenous Edmontonians, particularly residential school survivors and intergenerational survivors of residential school in the sixties scoop and other systemic racist Canadian policy decisions, and that supporting our most vulnerable people would contribute to reconciliation and right, begin to write some of these wrongs. So I like Mayor Nenshi. I’m not above seizing the moment to make that point. But I think there’s a broader point around decolonization, which I started with and well, I’ll end with and I’ll give you a tangible example, which is that after the TRC came through and that was my my first education, that was where my ignorance was confronted about Canada’s history. And I wear this pin still was given to me by Marie Wilson, commissioner, one of the commissioners, and I swore an oath to bear the stories of residential school survivors and to be an agent of reconciliation. And so we undertook then to create spaces to your point, marry for ceremony, for gathering, for intercultural learning. And so I’m so proud that I can do the other thing and see how my windows are new downtown library, not quite as fancy a building as as Calgary’s beautiful new downtown library, but it has something within it called Thunderbird House, which is an Indigenous ceremony room and an Elder in Residence program. And elder Jo-Ann Saddleback runs it and she is the keeper of Indigenous stories. And so we are decolonizing the library by embedding traditional Indigenous knowledge, practise and gathering and safety of space in our central library. And I’m very proud of that. And that came directly out of our experience with the TRC. And then a couple of weeks time we will reopen Fort Edmonton. But instead of the triumphalists colonial narrative that that fantastic living history museum has told for the last two years, which essentially are sort of 50 years, two generations, it started from the premise that the story of Edmonton starts when white people showed up. And it is a it is a narrative of conquest and that is not the truth. And so if we are to start with the truth, we must start with the fact that the explorers and and folks who arrived here would have died, but for the welcome and support and cooperation and trade and peace, which became treaty. That’s why we talk about treaty. This is the education we need. And so Fort Edmonton now, instead of going back in time to the fur trade, goes back in time to before contact and the new Indigenous people’s experience, which I encourage every Canadian to come and see because experiencing it will decolonize your brain, which is something we all need to do and it will stir your heart. I was it was cathartic. I was bawling. I was a mess, but there was healing that came out of it. And so that’s an open invitation to see what decolonization of a civic space, a tourism asset, a living history museum. But all that to say that that that museum has been how we tell the story to ourselves of who we are here in this territory and on this land. And it is now starts from an Indigenous worldview rather than sort of picking it up at the gift shop. And so we need to do that across this country. I’ve been trying to figure out what was the moment where New Zealand figured out how to change everything and do this right and test whether this Kamloops moment is is analogous and could move us in the same direction. So I have hope, but but I’ll stop there.
Mary Rowe [00:46:34] It is interesting, though, is this a seminal moment, as you say? I mean, New Zealand is five million people and not, you know, not our vast geography, but I still hear you that they were able to coalesce a consensus. And was there a moment? I don’t know that. Interesting to ask, Jacinda. Was there a catalysing moment? LeeAnne, I think the point you also made is that the emphasis on truth. Not just on that, people want to rush to the reconciliation part, right? Maybe we now just have to live in the truth. So I’m interested, guys that, and gals that this this is an area that I would say that your two cities are further on in than other cities in the country. So and I’ve experienced that when I’ve come into the Alberta environment and I’ve come into your cities even before all this, it just much more part as much more on more on the surface. It’s much more a fabric of how you’re living. And I wonder if there are other aspects of urban life that you are equally ahead in. So one I would say would be this energy transition piece around around hydrogen and the new technologies you’ve always had, the engineering capacity and the technology capacity for oil and gas. Now, how are you going to use that talent in a new way? I wonder if another might be food, because each of you, each city seems to be really tackling food security. LeeAnne you mentioned that. So did Ashlyn. Ashlyn, you talked about talent retention. Are there other areas where you feel, I don’t want to get we’re not about being totally boastful and there are no sports teams to get too excited about at the moment. But are there other areas where you feel like you’re kind of the country needs to be paying attention, that you’re doing something that they aren’t, anybody? Throw in other. I don’t want to hear from the mayors right this minute. I wanna hear from the other folks. Anything that you guys see that you might be front and centre on that you think you’re ahead on. Irfhan, you must feel like, you’re you’re an entrepreneur, you must feel your ahead of something.
Irfhan Rawji [00:48:26] Well in a couple of things come to mind. I mean, I think you’re right on on trying to think through some of the challenges that we have as a society. I do think that we are probably more foot forward in Calgary. And I lived in Vancouver, I was raised there and I lived in Toronto for many years. So I have a bit of perspective and context from that. I do think that when we say that Calgary has a volunteer spirit, I think it is true. And it starts probably with like one hundred years ago, with all the community associations, I think it was like one hundred thirty five of them, like every community housing association and we volunteer.
Mary Rowe [00:49:02] Well, Edmonton has that fabulous network of leagues, municipal leagues. Right. Mohamed? C5 is part of that, I think.
Mohamed Elsaghir [00:49:09] Is the Edmonton Federation for Community Leagues. And then we’re C5 and then there’s a whole lot of different volunteers in my area.
Mary Rowe [00:49:15] So it’s sort of interesting eh guys. I don’t know whether this has to do with the settlement patterns in the west or but go ahead Irfhan you were going but I was just going to riff in there that Edmonton has got this kind of infrastructure as well.
Irfhan Rawji [00:49:25] Yeah. I don’t know if it’s settlement patterns necessarily. I don’t know. I think that this network of community associations, because wherever you live, you sort of belong to one of them and you get engaged in your community and it can be cleaned up in a certain way. You’re raised here that you’re sort of raised with that we belong to this thing. And I think that that has inspired, I see more grassroots engagement and organisation in Calgary than I did in Toronto for sure. You know, I mentioned one of them earlier, like Calgary On Purpose, a series of citizens that are getting together to think about what’s the future of that city. And that’s not the only one. I think that’s partly that that structure. I think it’s partly the people that are more entrepreneurial here. So they’re willing to just get more engaged because that’s just the mentality of an entrepreneur. And then I think there have been two or three catalysing events. The Olympics was probably one of them for Calgary, where it requires volunteers enormous amounts. And I think the flood was another to reinforce that belief of who we are. Sometimes we act in the way that we’re expected to act. So when other people tell us that’s the city that has engaged volunteers, you say, well, that’s who I am, so I better go do that. And I think those catalytic events helped sort of reinforce this.
Mary Rowe [00:50:32] Ashlyn, are you in Edmonton or did you just say, oh, I’m going to start that company up and move there? Why are you there?
Ashlyn Bernier [00:50:37] I consider myself an Edmontonian, although I was raised in Red Deer silence smack dab between Edmonton and Calgary and ended up here. There’s a thread I want to pull out here that I wonder sort of ties together a few different things I’m hearing and it’s about innovation. And when I hear a friend talk about the volunteer spirit, I think a lot of that comes from the fact that we like to build things here. We’re a province of builders and we see value in building things and creating things together. And ultimately, to me, innovation means thinking about things and in new ways. And I think when we look at a lot of the things we’ve discussed today and these grand challenges and on the other side of the same coin, grand opportunities are in front of us. The key to them is, is innovation. And it’s, you know, going back to Mohamed, talking about the work at C5 and how important it is to connect with each other and to have conversations. And we’ve talked about some of the the difficult conversations that are required in order for us to face truth and move forward. And this kind of brings me to this, I think challenge we’re probably all facing globally is how do we find a way to be back together in person? Because I’m of the belief that you can’t innovate over Zoom.
Mary Rowe [00:52:04] We’ve been trying for months!
Ashlyn Bernier [00:52:05] We’ve been trying and we can be really productive. I think we can produce work. But when it comes to, in my opinion, what is required to innovate and solve some of these economic problems and social problems that we’re experiencing, that requires innovation and innovation is best done in person. And we could look at each other in the eye and and have challenging conversations that have constructive conflict. And that’s something where we’re trying to work through at our company on a micro scale. But I think the same concept applies to a lot of much, much bigger and more important things than just how are we going to get back to the office.
Mary Rowe [00:52:41] It’s going to be interesting when we don’t have a crisis. I mean, I don’t know. I heard a prediction yesterday that we’re not going to have global herd immunity until 2025. So that feels a long ways away and does not feel depressing. But does it mean that will we lose the impetus of the crisis? And I guess that’s you’re telling me there’s a lot of social infrastructure that exists in Edmonton and Calgary. There’s a lot of energy around the new economy. There’s a kind of visceral, prescient knowledge of the need for truth around Indigenous reconciliation. Are there other pieces, the mental health piece that Naheed has been mentioning and Don’s talking about all the the sort of new investments that you’re attracting. Are there other pieces of of action that you think the rest of the country needs to pay attention to, that you guys are focussing on? Mohamed, anything else? Do the C5 thing is a really interesting model, I’ve got to say. And is there anything else you want to highlight mentally in?
Mohamed Elsaghir [00:53:36] Just to highlight my the biggest thing that we need to take away is that collaboration, and here in Edmonton, there is a collaborative spirit. Like I said, that’s that’s huge. The ability to work together to break down the red tape, to break down those those walls and figur out and moving from talking to action. That’s a big thing that we.
Mary Rowe [00:53:53] We got to do that we got to move from talking to action.
Mohamed Elsaghir [00:53:56] And my my my executive director, Corinne Saad is wonderful at this. And this is the first thing she told me when we first started was we’re great at getting together and talking about things, but actually getting together and putting the boots on the ground. And what I’ve seen over the last five years is we are getting on the ground and maybe this crisis that spurs this and the spirit of volunteerism. I go back to the Fort McMurray fires that happen and how the whole province came together to support Fort McMurray and the same types of things are happening in all communities around here. So the spirit of collaboration, the movement of collaboration, the efficiency of collaboration and working together to leverage resources to get better outcomes for the communities we serve. I mean, that’s that’s that’s as innovative as it can get, I think. And and it’s always going to be growing and it’s always going to be learning and we’re always going to be trying to take in new things. I mean, these models will continue to grow. But I mean, that’s one big thing that I’m proud of our city and I’m proud of. I mean, whoever I approach, it seems to have that openness to collaborate and openness to have those conversations. And we have started to move to action. So moving to action is a big thing. And that’s one of the biggest innovations I think our city brings, is the ability to collaborate. And it means and I hope our next mayor is similar to Don, to Mayor Iverson as well in terms of just, you know what, let’s get it done. Let’s let’s break down these waters. Let’s figure out who needs to be where and what it needs and move to action. Right?
Mary Rowe [00:55:23] Right. LeeAnne, you just put a very thoughtful thing in the chat there, a quote about how we might colonise without even realising we were. I wonder about there’s going to be an influx of money and resources to rebuild. Any any watch words from you in terms of how to make sure that people don’t just barrel on in a direction that’s the wrong direction? Go ahead, LeeAnne.
LeeAnne Ireland [00:55:46] Yeah. So I just want to just I put that quote in there. It’s not my own words, but about colonisation is the disease and how do we move forward without colonising by accident. And so I think sort of all of us have said we can move ahead in collaboration with the decolonization mindset. And so being aware of all of the things that we bring to those circles when we’re holding space. And somebody said something really thoughtful today at another meeting, I was at about constantly recentering what the actual problem is. So as we move into all this action and collaboration recentering ourselves maybe outside of the centre and putting people or conversations or problems or what, we’re trying to innovate at the centre and removing ourselves sort of from that. And so I think we move forward cautiously and respectfully knowing that colonisation is the disease and that we need to go with that mindset
Mary Rowe [00:56:54] From which we need to recover. Mm hmm. Thanks, LeeAnne. OK, two brief last words to each mayor, please. You first will go to Mayor Iveson and then to Mayor Nenshi and really brief because we’re all on the hour. Go ahead, Mayor Iveson.
Mayor Don Iveson [00:57:08] No, no, I hear I just want to say I’m so glad that that you have invited Mohamed and Ashlyn, who represent two of the great thrusts of things that are happening in the community. The C5 community hub model is the future of interagency collaboration. And and so, Mohamed, thank you. And Corinne, who’s watching. Congratulations and thank you. This is how we solve complex problems. And it’s a newcomer serving organisations, Indigenous serving organisations and community led organisations, driving community solutions to community to collective impact. And I believe in that model. And Edmonton is awesome at that model. We just have to scale it and get orders of government to invest in it because we’ll get way better results for way less money, way faster. I think so. Thank you. And Ashlyn, maybe selling yourself short. She I think also sits on or has been essential in so many of the convening and community conversations about our tech sector and rebooting our approach to innovation and supporting the whole start-up community to enable our health and biotech community to grow our health and big data opportunity to to to manifest our AR and VR community and of course, artificial intelligence and machine learning. And the tech sector here is a huge, huge economic driver as well. And Ashlyn’s been a phenomenal, beyond her work in her own company, community leader and convenor and inspirer. And so you picked two great Edmontonians. To represent what the city’s capable of, and I bow to them and thank everyone else on the panel for their thoughtful contributions.
Mary Rowe [00:58:43] Thanks, Don, and I hope everyone will read the Edmonton report you’ll see referenced to the C5 and to Ashlyn’s work. Go ahead. Mayor Nenshi, last word to you.
Mayor Naheed Nenshi [00:58:50] Well, let me just say thank you to you, Mary, to Lisa, the team at the Canadian Urban Institute for continuing to push our thinking on all of this. And you know what? It’s easy to be discouraged. And I hope that people don’t think that Don and I are leaving because we are throwing up our arms in despair. I’m leaving because he’s leaving. And I can’t imagine doing this without him. But in reality, we’re trying to make space for new voices and diverse voices to take us into the future. But I think and I’ll speak for Don as well, that we can be very proud of what we’ve built here. We’ve got a lot of work to do. We’ve got an enormous amount of work to do on all five of those things that I highlighted before. You know what? I’d rather do that here than anywhere else in the world. And we can be proud of what we have accomplished. We can be proud of what we’ve done because of enormous, amazing entrepreneurs like Mohamed, Irfhan, Ashlyn, and LeeAnne. And I call you all entrepreneurs because you’re solving problems in new ways in our communities and I’m so proud that I get to live here in this magnificent place, and I know that as we move forward, it will only get better for everyone.
Mary Rowe [01:00:05] Well, thanks. That’s what a lovely ending, I just feel like you all were very well brought up that you’re so gracious to acknowledge the talents and contributions of people around you. And what a great session to have to help us launch these two reports and to get the rest of the country paying attention to what’s going on in Edmonton and what’s going on in Calgary and all the things that we’re confronted with and need to address, but also the the signs of hope. So can I just thank each of you for coming on. I realise it’s a challenging time. So LeeAnne, Mohamed, Irfhan, Ashlyn, excuse me, and the two mayors. A bit of a bro culture between the two of you. I’ve got to say, a lot of us enjoyed that to what’s going on. And it will be interesting to see who replaces both of you and if they have the same rapport that you two have. Appreciate that. On Monday, we are focussing it is National Indigenous Month. And and Monday is as LeeAnne, what I should remind us every day is a Indigenous day where we need to be confronting these things. And but we do have a CityTalk noon midday Eastern, cohosted with us Engineers, Canada, the National Trust for Canada, the Royal Architectural Society, the Institute of Planners, the Society of Landscape Architects, the Urban Development Institute and the Urban Land Institute, a lot of people behind this session with a thousand people coming. So and it’s all specifically on truth and reconciliation with Indigenous Indigenous practitioners coming from architecture and all those disciplines and moderated by Hunter Cardinal. So I really hope that you can enjoy and join us for that. And it’ll be a very important conversation. It’s at noon Eastern on Monday. Thanks, everybody. I hope you’ll read the reports in Edmonton, in Calgary, and have a good weekend, safe weekend. And we look forward to seeing you the next time. Thanks, everybody.
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From Canadian Urban Institute: You can find transcripts and recordings of today’s and all our webinars at https://canurb.org/citytalk
00:16:08 Canadian Urban Institute: Welcome! Folks, please change your chat settings to “all panelists and attendees” so everyone can see your comments.
Attendees: where are you tuning in from today?
00:16:28 Abigail Slater (she/her): Hello from Tkaronto!! So nice to see CUI again.
00:17:31 Canadian Urban Institute: Learn more about CUIxLocal: https://canurb.org/cuixlocal/
00:20:15 Canadian Urban Institute: Read the reports here:
Edmonton Activates: https://canurb.org/publications/edmonton-activates/
Calgary Transforms: https://canurb.org/publications/calgary-transforms/
00:24:49 Canadian Urban Institute: Reminding attendees to please change your chat settings to “all panelists and attendees” so everyone can see your comments. Thanks.
00:27:26 Jason Syvixay: Mayor Iveson and Mayor Nenshi <3
00:28:44 Ashlyn Bernier – Edmonton: Preach Mayor Nenshi!
00:32:29 Puneeta McBryan: HAHA. Amazing, Mary.
00:36:59 Canadian Urban Institute: Connect with our panel:
Ashlyn Bernier, COO, SamDesk
Mohamed Elsaghir, Senior Manager C5 Northeast Community Hub
LeeAnne Ireland, Consultant, LeeAnne Ireland Consulting
Mayor Don Iveson, Mayor of Edmonton
Mayor Naheeh Nenshi, Mayor of Calgary
Irfhan Rawji, Founder and CEO, Mob Squad
00:40:04 Lisa Cavicchia, CUI: LeeAnne runs the Urban Society for Aboriginal Youth: https://usay.ca/
00:46:23 LeeAnne Ireland (she/her) – Calgary: Yes! Food security is a major issue!
00:47:44 Howaida Hassan: Housing for larger, multigenerational families is important
00:48:45 Lisa Cavicchia, CUI: More about Mohamed’s organization: https://www.edmontonnortheasthub.com/
00:50:54 Lisa Cavicchia, CUI: citysharecanada.ca
00:53:35 Abigail Slater (she/her): And 100 more graves in Manitoba…as Mayor Nenshi said there will be more.
00:54:11 Abigail Slater (she/her): Clean water
00:54:34 Abigail Slater (she/her): 100%
00:55:30 Abigail Slater (she/her): It is unconscionable
00:59:05 Andrew Dodds: How do we move forward with acknowledgement? We still say the words of acknowledgement even as we don’t want to admit the way our policies towards indigenous peoples, towards homeless peoples, towards anyone who looks or lives different than us, they continue to create suffering and exclusion. As uncomfortable as it is to hold in our minds the incongruent feelings around our actions, our current blockages to so many, and how we can indeed move forward, we simply must hold and move forward on them.
00:59:36 Diane Dyson: Both of the new CUIxLocal reports being released today raise these same issues, ones which each City needs to address, especially focused around Indigenous peoples and around new immigrants.
00:59:53 Abigail Slater (she/her): #landback
01:00:40 Abigail Slater (she/her): Which describes a process…
01:01:27 Lisa Cavicchia, CUI: https://www.fortedmontonpark.ca/plan-your-visit/attractions/indigenous-peoples-experience
01:01:38 Emily Herd: Grateful for the recent opportunity to hear a panel including Dr. Patricia Makokis (Saddle Lake Cree Nation. www.treatytalk.com), emphasizing the need for settler allies to educate themselves – and my colleague’s recently sharing the podcasts out there to use as a start.
01:03:35 Christina Sisson: New Zealand seems to have identified equity through the Ministry of Health – maybe we ned to focus on equity in terns of human health!
01:04:51 Lisa Cavicchia, CUI: Edmonton’s community leagues: https://efcl.org/
01:06:59 Mayor Naheed Nenshi: Most Red Deerians (like me) make the right choice.
01:09:25 LeeAnne Ireland (she/her) – Calgary: Colonization is the disease. What is colonization and how do we ensure that we are not contagious — that we do not colonize those we strive to assist, by accident?
– Darien Thira
01:09:57 Jason Syvixay: Red Deer’s Big Bend Market is cute! As a former Winnipegger who purposefully left to live and work in Edmonton, what was inspiring was Council and Administration’s intention to tackle complex issues like infill, Indigenous reconciliation, and winter planning, rather than be silent and inactive on them. Perhaps people want to be part of collective problem solving?
01:10:00 Lisa Cavicchia, CUI: Yay to Corinne Saad — Executive Director of C5 — it’s her last day today!
01:10:35 Heather Klimchuk: Volunteer’s are Alberta’s treasures! Incredible conversation today and I am humbled and appreciative of your time.
01:11:47 Abigail Slater (she/her): Yes to @Chritina Sisson’s comments
01:12:00 Abigail Slater (she/her): We must broaden equity…to every sector
01:12:03 Keren Tang: Despite the various sectors involved in today’s panel – appreciate the weaving of threads and speakers building upon each other. Tremendous conversation between the two cities. Would love to see more of this inter-city, intersectional dialogues!
01:12:36 Canadian Urban Institute: Learn more about CUIxLocal: https://canurb.org/cuixlocal/
You can find transcripts and recordings of today’s and all our sessions at https://www.canurb.org/citytalk
Keep the conversation going #CityTalk @canurb
01:13:30 Abigail Slater (she/her): Thank you for this. I learned a lot about our Western compatriots…and the wonderful work you are doing.
01:14:10 Canadian Urban Institute: Join us on Monday at noon ET for an exploration of urbanism with Indigenous leaders at the fore of their professions: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_8_thkCM8TzyzX57fIf_oXg
01:14:58 Jenna Misener: Fantastic session. Thanks to all the speakers and the CUI for convening!
01:15:42 Puneeta McBryan: That graciousness and recognition is another key part of Alberta culture! Thank you all for a wonderful panel
01:15:51 Ashlyn Bernier – Edmonton: Thank you for having us Mary!
01:15:54 Vanessa Wellsch: Thank you, everyone!