National forum focuses on Canada’s future

November event draws leaders and thinkers from across sectors

On November 3, 2014, nearly 150 participants, including scholars and students, top ad-ministrators from postsecondary institutions, community leaders and key representatives from public and private sector organizations, gathered at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa for a day of discussion, debate and exploration of how SSHRC-funded research in the social sciences and humanities is helping to build a better future for all Canadians.

The goal of Imagining Canada’s Future—A National Forum was ambitious: to promote greater understanding of some of the important issues facing Canadians while encouraging greater collaboration between members of the research community and stakeholders across all sectors.

Opening with a powerful keynote address from the University of Alberta’s Cindy Blackstock, executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada and founder of the First Nations Children’s Action Research and Education Service, the forum was built around a series of panels addressing two of SSHRC’s six future challenge areas.

The first session explored the question of how the aspirations of Aboriginal Peoples are essential to realizing a successful shared future, while the second explored the future challenge area posed by the social, cultural and economic impacts of emerging and disruptive technologies.

The forum was followed by an open discussion with leaders from the public sector, including several deputy ministers, and a break-out session on strengthening academic and non-academic sector collaboration.

As Martha Crago, Vice President of Research at Dalhousie University, observed, “…there are no disciplines anymore, only problems. Workable solutions must therefore necessarily involve experts who bring diverse talents and perspectives to the table.”

On the impacts of emerging and disruptive technologies, the panelists concluded that a greater focus on understanding the human dimension of technology, in terms of recognizing the drivers for the development of new products and systems, is critical.

“From research in art and architecture to cybersecurity, indigenous studies and law, scholars shared their insights on the opportunities and challenges taking place in their sectors,” said Ted Hewitt, SSHRC’s executive vice president and chief operating officer. “I am confident that together we can capitalize on new opportunities for collaboration and innovation that will help shape a strong future for Canada.”

An afternoon keynote address was delivered by the Governor General of Canada, His Excel-lency the Right Honourable David Johnston.

The event was organized in collaboration with the Canada Council for the Arts, the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, Canarie, Compute Canada, and the National Arts Centre.

Related links: Forum panelists

The Aspirations of Aboriginal Peoples: Realizing a Shared Successful Future

Moderator: Steven Loft, Co-ordinator, Aboriginal Arts Office, Canada Council for the Arts

  • Anna Hudson, Professor, Visual Art and Art History, York University
  • Aaron Mills, Fulbright, SSHRC Vanier and Trudeau Scholar, University of Victoria
  • David Newhouse, Chair, Indigenous Studies, Trent University
  • J.P. Gladu, President and CEO, Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business

The Impact of Emerging and Disruptive Technologies in the Life of People, Businesses and Communities

Moderator: Ted Hewitt, Executive Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer, SSHRC

  • Benoît Dupont, Canada Research Chair in Security, Identity and Technology, Université de Montréal
  • François Leblanc, SSHRC Canada Graduate Scholarships Doctoral Scholarship Holder, McGill University
  • Lila Pine, Professor, School of Media, Ryerson University
  • Namir Anani, President and CEO, Information and Communication Technology Council