Change Up 2015 Conference

I had the pleasure to attend Change Up 2015 a conference about making progress on some of the toughest social and cultural issues in Canada. Feel free to read on to find out what we discussed! 

I am so pleased to have been invited to participate in the Change UP 2015 Conference. The conference was four days of deep and intense discussions, listening and learning. I brought my fine and community arts experience to the conference, and took with me many valuable thoughts and ideas from the shared experiences of delegates and panelists alike. The highlights for me were: hearing Lee Maracle and Marie Wilson speak together - in very different ways - on reconciliation (going forward from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission). In addition, hearing Ellen Schneider from Active Voice Lab speak on strategies in documentary films, analyzing the concept of value through the incredible metaphor of horticulture was a gem, and finally listening to Desmond Cole and Barbara Hall speak to racism in Canada today, specifically, surrounding the issue of carding had a lot of impact. 

Throughout the conference, I spoke about one of my first community-art projects from 2012/13 entitled "Messages To: The Edmonton Remand Centre Newspaper" (, as well as my latest residency on "Train of Thought" with Jumblies Theatre, and the issues of racism in my current home Winnipeg. After taking part in a lot of hard conversations about the tough issues we are all facing in Canada, I left the conference with a full heart knowing it is this group of people who already make a difference everyday, and will continue to change up Canada. Every delegate brought their own wealth of knowledge and expertise, as well as questions they did not have answers to and ways they are trying to resolve them within their own diverse communities. Tactics include: open inclusive discussions, the practice of active listening, documentary films, community gardens, engaging youth to vote, and asking questions, such as what are your media sources? What are the gaps between was is legal and what is just? And finally, who is in your rolodex? 

On a finishing note, the last two thoughts I want to share are quotes from speakers at the conference Lee Maracle and Shane Pointe "... when two people reconcile; two have to speak" and "You and me are we; a never-ending sea." These quotes push me to keep having conversations and listening to the voices in our communities who have not been heard. I believe it is the act of moving over and providing space to hear these voices that will further social change in Canada and help us to see difference as equality ultimately pushing forward a pluralist society. 

Conference photos taken by Inspirit Foundation