The 2018 Healthy Community Symposium took place from March 5-8, 2018. This year’s theme was 'Creating Communities for Everyone' and focused on creating communities that enhance the health and sense of belonging for all community members.

The 2018 Symposium were hosted in partnership by the Alberta Cancer Prevention Legacy Fund, Alberta Health Services and Communities ChooseWell, Alberta Recreation and Parks Association.

View the symposium agenda

Keynote Presenter: Jim Diers

Community Organizer, Neighbor Power

Seattle, Washington

Date: Monday, March 5 and Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Jim Diers is driven by a passion to get people more involved in their communities and in the decisions that affect their lives. Over the past 40 years, he has served as a grass roots community organizer, community developer, and founding director of Seattle’s Department of Neighborhoods. Jim now shares the lessons from that work in his courses at the University of Washington; in international consulting through the Asset-Based Community Development Institute; and in his book, Neighbor Power.

Session Description: Inclusive Community - Precription for Wellness

  • Learn how community can combat loneliness, social injustice, climate change, crime, malnutrition, sedentary lifestyles and other challenges to our health.
  • Understand keys to inclusive engagement; steps government, non-profits and other agencies must take to better partner with community.
  • Discover the many under-utilized resources that can be mobilized to strengthen communities and their health.

Keynote Presenter: Tracey Vavrek

CEO, Community Foundation of Northwestern Alberta, Community consultant, builder and volunteer

Northwestern Alberta

Date: Tuesday, March 6 and Thursday, March 8, 2018

Tracey Vavrek is the CEO of the Community Foundation of Northwestern Alberta. She has over 16 years’ experience in the not-for- profit sector. Her strong leadership skills and experience make her a known community consultant and community builder, providing support and guidance to any community organization in need. Tracey’s diverse background, ability to encourage all values and perspectives, and ability to collaborate and educate makes her a powerful force, especially for Grande Prairie.

Session Description: Exploring the Sense of Belonging

  • Belonging is defined as being part of a collective “we”; it transforms lives and communities.
  • Explore ways to increase the sense of belonging among citizens to create cohesion, build healthy and resilient communities for the future.
  • Learn how the Vital Signs initiative provides an overview of the quality of life and brings the realism of belonging to communities. The 2017 Northwestern Alberta Vital Signs report can be found here.

Thanks for all that attended!

For those who didn't, don't worry! Many of the sessions were recorded and can be accessed below:

Date: Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Kathleen Waxer

Community and Family Services Director, Municipality of Jasper

Jasper, Alberta

  • Kathleen envisions better ways to provide services to her small, remote community and engage others through a unique Jasper Community Team model and its flagship program, Community Outreach Services.
  • Hear about the process of working collaboratively to shift human service paradigms to be more efficient and effective through intersectoral collaboration.

Michelle Nieviadomy

Assistant Director, Edmonton Native Healing Centre & Iskew Health

Edmonton, Alberta

  • Michelle is passionate about social justice, fitness & community.
  • Gain insight into how they worked collaboratively to create a space for the Indigenous community to connect with culture, develop relationships, role model fitness and celebrate the gift of movement.

Chris Ulmer

Chris Ulmer

Sylvan Lake, Alberta

  • Chris has a strong passion for healthy and resilient communities, and he leads through building collaborative processes that incorporate multi-sector partnerships to address community challenges at a systemic level.
  • Learn about a Community Contribution Company that reinvests in social ventures to tackle community challenges and introduces a new mindset for reimagining community sustainability. Through his work, Chris seeks to strengthen a collective awareness of communities as complex, adaptive systems.

Adrienne Sprecker

Early Learning Consultant, Northern Lights Public Schools; Chair of the Greater Lac La Biche Early Childhood Coalition, Chair of the Lac La Biche Active Kids and Physical Literacy and You, and President of the North Eastern Teachers Convention Association

Lac La Biche, Alberta

  • Adrienne shares how multi-sectoral collaboration in Early Childhood Coalitions enhances children’s development and growth. 
  • See how they successfully created a community children’s book, using local family and community photos, by engaging a variety of community stakeholders.

Date: Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Natasha Rychlik

Content Manager, Tri Region Community Compass

Spruce Grove, Alberta

  • As the Content Manager of the Tri Region Community Compass website, Natasha is able to share others’ stories in an engaging way, and is committed to enhancing the wellness of the Tri Region community through the various projects she manages.
  • Natasha is a core member of Achieving Community Together - a Tri Region citizen inquiry group. She shares her families’ story of inclusive community.

Jesse Martineau

Videographer, Tri Region Community Compass, Photographer, vlogger, filmmaker, and public speaker

Spruce Grove, Alberta

  • Jesse Martineau CREATES moments wherever he and his camera go! Jesse believes that to really build something special, we must allow the 'walls' to come down, share our knowledge, build relationships with people, and to #CREATE anything!
  • Share Jesse’s enthusiasm for community stories.

Date: Thursday March 8, 2018

Tim Fox

Director of Indigenous Relations, Calgary Foundation

Kainai Reserve, Alberta

  • Tim Fox is a proud member of the Blackfoot confederacy from the Blood (Kainai) reserve located two hours south of Calgary. Tim is the Director of Indigenous Relations with the Calgary Foundation where he hopes to incorporating work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission both internally and in the broader community. Tim shares in the values of the Calgary Foundation and in the belief that there are ways this work can live and thrive for the next 150 years.

Barb Longair

Lethbridge Public Library & Lisa Weekes, Lethbridge Public Library

Lethbridge, Alberta

  • Barbara Longair loves libraries and currently works in one.  She is the Public Services and Children’s Service Manager for the Lethbridge Public Library.  She is not a jock.  However, as a lifelong learner she has learned the value of healthy living and appreciates the value of play.  She gets to do these things at her library and then talk to jocks about how cool libraries can be.

Lisa Weekes

Public Services Manager for Chinook Arch Regional Library System which consists of 33 member libraries across southwest Alberta

  • Lisa is the Public Services Manager for Chinook Arch Regional Library System which consists of 33 member libraries across southwest Alberta.  Physical literacy and lifelong active living are personal and professional passions that guide her regional program and project development.  Lisa enjoys planning and undertaking family trips across Canada and beyond with her husband and two teen sons. More locally based, camping, kay­aking, hiking and cross-country skiing opportunities keep her and her family on the go.

Sumon Mamun

Rural South Central Alberta Regional Inclusion Coalition

Chestermere, Alberta

  • Sumon began his career in International and Community Development in Bangladesh working for an NGO and the United Nations. He moved to Canada, and in 2016 he organised a regional inclusion forum, which literally formed the Rural South Central Alberta Regional Inclusion Coalition. He believes that removing barriers and developing systems are the keys to establishing social justice. He is currently working with the City of Chestermere   as a Coordinator for the Community and Neighbourhood Services.

Tracey Martin

Vivo for the Next Generation & Jessie Seymoure,

Calgary, Alberta

  • As one of the driving forces behind Vivo’s mission, innovation and public image, Tracey Martin has been the major hand in positioning, launching and growing the organization over the last 14 years into a successful charitable enterprise. With over 20 years of business development in the private, government and non-profit sectors she leads Vivo’s research and innovation arm and future expansion plans as the Senior Manager.

Date: Thursday March 8

Bev Knutson-Shaw

A Smorgasbord of Stories

Vulcan, Alberta

  • Through listening to and sharing stories we have the power to transform lives and communities.
  • Learn how Vulcan County celebrated cultural diversity through Bev’s recent Canada 150 digital storytelling project – “A Smorgasbord of Stories”.

Colleen Carey


Vulcan, Alberta

  • Hear how the small rural community of Vulcan is using vTV to promote and engage their community.

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