As dozens of researchers, students and community members met for two days at the recent Visions for Canada 2042 conference, a new vision for our country emerged.
For presenter Dr. Alex Wilner, Assistant Professor at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University, the vision is one of a Canada that uses strategic foresight to explore creatively and systematically future environments, interactions, dynamics, challenges, and opportunities.
For Dr. Susan Braedley, Associate Professor in Carleton University’s School for Social Work, the vision is of a Canada that is organized to provide exemplary care for the rapidly aging Canadian population.
For constitutional expert Dr. Kiera Ladner, who delivered the keynote speech on March 3rd, the vision is one of a country that may finally acknowledge the treaty rights of Indigenous people through the reconciliation process.
For Minister of Climate Change and Environment Catherine McKenna, who spoke at the gala dinner on March 4th, the vision is one of Canadians taking the lead in establishing a more sustainable way to live.
Those are just a few of the many visions that emerged during the two-day conference on topics as varied as the media, activism, sexuality, health care, transportation and feminism.
“The Visions for Canada 2042 conference presented an opportunity for faculty members, students, alumni and our community to discuss the future of Canadian society,” said FPA Dean André Plourde. “We are exploring the ways innovative collaboration among researchers and the community may be the most effective response to Canada’s future challenges.”
Dean Plourde first proposed the conference one year ago, as the Faculty was making plans for Carleton’s 75th anniversary. He asked Political Science Professor Fiona Robinson and Associate Dean (Research and International) Karen Schwartz to co-chair the event.
With the assistance of events coordinator Cassie Smith and research assistant Maggie Fitzgerald-Murphy, the organizers planned an event with 23 panel discussions, a gala dinner and a film premiere.
“We all know that Indigenous issues are hugely important in Canada, but the film and Kiera’s talk made me think about these issues in ways I had not done before. I am so grateful to Zacharius and Kiera for sharing their messages with us,” says Professor Robinson.
The organizers were also excited about the sheer number of participants. There was a noticeable ‘buzz’ in the Richcraft Hall Atrium in between panels.
“The crowd was so diverse. They represented faculty members, students, government, the community and even a high school. It was great to watch them talking and sharing,” says Professor Robinson.
Research Assistant Maggie Fitzgerald-Murphy, who is a doctoral candidate in Political Science, appreciated the challenging and exciting discussions that took place.
“This conference provided much to be hopeful about in terms of considering the future of Canada,” she says. “It provided a space that did not depend on a linear notion of time, but rather gave us a more circular framework, in which our past, present, and future could be considered, celebrated, and explored together.”
The Visions for Canada 2042 conference is part of FPA Research Month, which features dozens of events including public lectures and graduate symposiums.
The presenting sponsor for Visions for Canada 2042 was Manulife.
Other sponsors included Isuma, iPolitics Live, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the Provost and Vice-President (Academic) and the Vice-President (Research and International) of Carleton University.