2016 High Ground: Tools for Engaged Leaders

2016 High Ground: Tools for Engaged Leaders was held at Harrison Hot Springs Hotel & Resort from April 1-2.


At a Glance 

Sched & Speakers 



‘What does the ‘Paris Agreement Mean for Me?’ videos


KarenJosephKeynoteKaren Joseph is the CEO of Reconciliation Canada, a Vancouver-based non-profit that seeks to promote understanding of the Canadian Indian residential school system. Karen has 18 years of experience inspiring diverse partners to collaborate on strategic planning processes that support effective change. She brings both experiential and researched knowledge regarding the impacts of multi-generational trauma and upholds a lifelong commitment to providing individuals with opportunities to achieve their highest potential. (Friday night dinner)


Paul_Born_2013_high_resPaul Born is the co-founder and President of the Tamarack Institute, a global leader on issues of place, collective impact, and community innovation. The author of four books, including his most recent Deepening Community, Born has been recognized by the United Nations for one of the top 40 projects in the world. He is also a 2013 senior fellow at Ashoka, the world’s largest network of social innovators. (Saturday breakfast)

Pre-Conference Workshops (Friday morning)

Seth&Maya2Talking about Taxes – Back by popular demand, this skills development workshop offers an opportunity to improve your ability to talk about taxes, inequality and economics with timely research and analysis from CCPA’s research desk. An essential skill for all elected officials. Seth Klein

Hands on Communications – Want to feel more confident in your public speaking? A little leery of doing media interviews? Come join this intensive skills-based workshop on communications for elected people. We’ll cover what people are looking for in their leaders, why impressions matter so much, and what you can do to be a stronger communicator today. This session will include practice and review. Maya Russell

Workshops (Friday afternoon)

Farmers Market-BannerSupporting Local Food Systems – In the climate change context, support for local food systems, including farmland, farmers & people involved in the production, processing and distribution of food, is increasingly important. This panel brings together elected officials working in a rural and urban context and leaders in sustainable agriculture to discuss how local governments can increase support for local food systems as part of a broader strategy of building healthy communities. Harold Steves, Hannah Roessler, Ben Isitt

Supporting Local Food Systems presentation

ClimateActionClimate Action – On the world’s stage in Paris last December, 196 countries reached a historic agreement on climate change. They agreed to limit global warming to well below two degrees of warming and to work toward 1.5. What was it like in Paris? What will it mean for Canada and how can Canadian communities make a difference? Columbia Institute’s new paper highlights key actions needed by senior orders of government to enable local governments, whose decisions impact 45% of Canada’s greenhouse emissions. Charley Beresford, Christine Boyle, Karen Farbridge

Karen Farbridge presentation

Christine Boyle presentation

Controversy to Collaboration – Elected officials are only too familiar with the fierce controversies that can arise around municipal issues. From re-zoning applications to parking regulations to gender-inclusive washrooms – policy questions that residents and stakeholders feel immediately affected by often spark polarized public debate. Drawing on recent examples, this workshop will explore how elected officials can engage the public and enable collaboration for solutions that are owned and supported by the community. Robin Prest, Sebastian Merz


Sebastian Merz & Robin Prest (SFU Civic Engage) presentation



Refugees Welcome – The global refugee crisis has rattled the world over the last few years. More than 26,000 Syrian refugees have arrived in Canada in the last few months, with many more on the way. How do we support refugee youth in our schools? How do we create welcoming, inclusive spaces for newcomers? This panel brings together speakers from the grassroots, non-profit and education sectors to speak to how our communities can make “refugees welcome.” Danny Ramadan, Jeff Calbick, Diego Cardona

Jeff Calbick presentation

Diego Cardona presentation

whispering cartoonAddressing the Wealth Gap – According to the 2016 Oxfam report, 63 people in the world have as much wealth as 50% of the rest of us. The wealth gap is widening. Living Wage is gaining local government champions and the call for a $15 minimum wage grows stronger. Meanwhile, in a blast from the past, Canada’s 1970s experiment with Mincom in Dauphin, Manitoba has reignited a national conversation about guaranteed annual income. Irene Lanzinger, Greg Moore, Michael Clague


Irene Lanzinger presentation


Counting Nature – Natural capital assets have a clear advantage over those created by people. They are cheaper to operate and maintain, they provide “free” ecosystem services, and they do not depreciate. They also have a carbon advantage, but they are not accounted for in municipal budgets. Until now. The town of Gibsons is receiving international attention as the first North American municipality to integrate natural capital assets and ecosystem services into its municipal budget. Emmanuel Machado will share Gibsons’ experience in developing their eco-assets strategy. Co-presenter Michelle Molnar will share the tools she is using in Gibsons to identify and value ecosystem services.

Emanuel Machado presentation

Michelle Molnar presentation

Civic-Engagement jpgBeyond Public Hearings – You and Citizen Engagement – The basis for good representation in a democracy is citizen engagement. Easier said than done. How can citizen engagement be done effectively beyond public meetings? How can elected leaders be accessible, yet retain personal privacy? Is the playing field different for women and men when it comes to social media? This workshop explores formal and informal structures through the lens of three experienced civic leaders. Betty Baxter, Donna MacDonald, Karen Farbridge, Taylor Bacharach

Taylor Bacharach presentation

Aboriginal Education – Carol Bellringer is BC’s Auditor General. Her 2015 audit of the education of aboriginal students in the BC public school system examined whether the BC government had achieved its target of closing the gaps in education outcomes between aboriginal and non-aboriginal students. The report says “educators, administrators and decision makers need to know what is working and what should change” and makes 11 recommendations.” Participants will consider the recommendations in light of their own district’s aboriginal education initiatives and leave better prepared for discussions in their districts and with the Education ministry. Deborah Jeffrey of the First Nations Education Steering Committee will share her insights on the audit and its recommendations.


Carol Bellringer presentation

Deborah Jeffrey presentation


Pecha Kucha Style! Presentations that inspire: 

Workshop Highlights (Saturday morning)

CollectiveIMpactCollective Impact – Community wide change requires us to adopt a systems change lens and to employ key principles that advance large scale change. The five core principles of collective impact are: 1. Build a common agenda 2.Develop a share measurement system 3. Support mutually reinforcing activities 4. Continuous Communication 5. Build a backbone organization. This workshop will give you an introductory overview of the collective impact approach. Paul Born

Paul Born presentation



Reconciliation in Action – The ongoing effects of colonization have placed indigenous people on the negative side of many social, health and economic indicators. This workshop led by graduates of the Indigenous Community Planning program at SCARP, will provide the space to explore, discuss, and develop actions to “do” reconciliation and decolonization in your community and school district. Justin Wiebe, Zoë Greig, Tasha Henderson



Reconciliation in Action presentation


GreenBuildingsGreen Buildings – How can local government lead the way in accelerating GHG emission reductions? One way is through buildings, specifically through energy retrofits, stretch building codes and other green building levers. Learn about legislative and governance changes that would make a difference. Rob Duffy, Karen Tam Wu, Bob Barter


Click here to read research paper: This_Green_House / II

Bob Barter presentation

Karen Tam Wu presentation

Rob Duffy presentation

MindfulnessinSchoolsMindfulness in Schools – A mindfulness initiative, nurtured by the Roberts Creek Community School and embraced by the Board of School District No.46 (Sunshine Coast) is rapidly becoming an integral part of the school district culture. The success of the program speaks to the value of community schools, collaborative partnerships and the leadership of trustees. This workshop shares the story of how the program has been operationalized and direct mindfulness training geared especially for Trustees. Rahul Gupta, Betty Baxter

Rahul Gupta presentation

School District response




Emerging Issues! A fast-paced plenary that spotlights the latest trends and issues in our communities through punchy presentations.

Workshop Highlights (Saturday afternoon)


Housing in Action – From boomtowns to big urban centres, the cost of housing is running away from household incomes. Locally elected leaders are finding innovative ways to take action. Bring your leadership story to the table for a lively, inspiring discussion in the context of new directions on housing outlined in federal minister mandate letters. Highlights from Tyee Solutions Society’s Housing Fix, a yearlong investigative reporting project kick off this round table discussion on housing. Katie Hyslop, David P. Ball


Our Future: Seniors, Socialization and Health – A wave of aging baby boomers is coming to your community soon. Is your municipality ready? What’s the role of municipalities in maintaining senior’s health? You’ll hear the findings from a new report on seniors, socialization and health and new research on fragmentation in senior’s health services in B.C., along with a lively dialogue about public policy implications. Gloria Levi, Marcy Cohen

Click here to download paper



KevinMilsipWebTelling the Story – Whether you are bringing your municipal council or school board colleagues on board with a new idea or sharing a new policy with the public, your communications will be more effective if you can tell the story well. You’ll have a chance to practice and leave with tools that you can use to help with meetings and presentations for anywhere between 2-200 people. Kevin Millsip





PublicEducationRoundtableRoundtable on the State of Public Education in BC – Join your fellow trustees to explore the state of public education in BC. Are schools still able to deliver on the Heart of the Community expectations of their neighborhoods? What happens when the “Low Hanging Fruit” isn’t? What can trustees do to engage their public and make the case for public education? Jonina Capbell, Elsie McMurphy


About Centre for Civic Governance

The Centre for Civic Governance works to support community leadership meeting today’s social and environmental challenges: climate change, Canada’s increasing equity gap, and shifting social trends. At the Centre for Civic Governance, our goal is to strengthen Canadian communities through sharing best practices, providing tools for locally elected leaders, and progressive policy analysis. We strive to provide knowledge and information to make real and positive social change.