2021 High Ground: Be Bold!

High Ground 2021: Be Bold!

Our civic governance forum spanned three days, with online sessions on Wednesday, March 24 (morning), Friday, March 26 (afternoon & early-evening), and Saturday, March 27 (morning).


Thursday, March 18


Aligning Election Campaigns with Values

While many of us run for office with progressive values and with the goal to institute progressive policies once elected, too often our campaigns themselves don’t align with those values. Campaigns can be extractive, transactional, and support burn-out culture. We need to align our campaigns with our values. This workshop will help you think through how to create a political or issue-based campaign that is anti-oppressive. We will talk about creating a culture of care, setting boundaries, accessibility, and much more. This workshop is open to local electeds and their campaign and finance managers. The Feminist Campaign School

To cover the cost of this special event, we are asking that participants pay $25 to attend. That said, if the cost is an issue, please contact:

Nadine Nakagawa Trudi Goels

Wednesday, March 24


Acknowledgment, Welcome & Opening Remarks

We are happy to welcome Carleen Thomas, Special Projects Manager, Treaty Lands and Resources at Tsleil-Waututh Nation, to our opening plenary with Susanne Skidmore, the Chair of our Board of Directors, will share opening remarks.

Sussanne Skidmore

Opening Plenary - Be Bold!

To say the past twelve months have been turbulent would be an understatement. Last year’s countless shifts, disruptions, and unveilings – systemic racism, escalating wealth inequality, pandemic schooling, and the climate crisis, will surely continue to impact our communities for years to come. And, yet, as we also seen, these shifts, disruptions, and unveilings have also brought forth new ways to deal with the most pressing issues facing our communities today and tomorrow. In this plenary, you’ll hear from individuals who are leaning into the weight of this moment by embracing boldness and carving out new paths for progressive local leadership.

Kristyn Wong-Tam Rhiannon Bennett (Moderator) Seth Klein Trent Derrick

Short Break


Plenary - Emerging Solutions - Spotlight One

Fast paced ten-minute spotlights on the latest trends and issues in our communities and the inspirational steps being taken to find do-able solutions.


  1. Advocating for a Living Wage during COVID-19 (Anastasia French)
  2. Permanent Residency – #LostVotes: Making Local Elections More Inclusive (Tanvi Bhatia)
Anastasia French Tanvi Bhatia Gaetan Royer

Health and Wellness Break


Plenary - Perspectives on a Just, Equitable, and Accessible Public Education

For the first time, we’ll hold our annual Public Education plenary on the first day of High Ground. Here, BC’s Minister of Education, Jennifer Whiteside, will speak about what progressive public education policy looks like after the past twelve months – with schools reeling from academic, mental health, and budgetary challenges. The Minister will also weigh in on the role good governance and engagement play in the path toward recovery. Long-time public education expert, Patti Baccus, and first-term school board trustee, Jennifer Reddy, will join the Minister on the digital stage and share their perspectives and questions.

Jennifer Whiteside Jennifer Reddy (Moderator) Patti Bacchus Paul Shaker Shuirose Valimohamed (Moderator)

Session - Mobilizing for Climate Action Implementation and Recovery

Now that we know that our federal government can mobilize for an emergency and that the number of municipalities across Canada that have declared a climate emergency is on the rise (508 governments in Canada including 32 municipalities in BC), what does it mean when it comes to planning and implementation? In this session, you’ll hear from different communities across BC about how local government can be bold in taking climate and environmental action with an equitable, inclusive, and just approach.

Christine Boyle Karen Elliott Naia Lee Rik Logtenberg Cheeying Ho

Session - An Exploration of One Model of Deep Community Engagement

This workshop explores how the Haíɫzaqv Climate Action Team is working to engage members of the Haíɫzaqv (Heiltsuk) Nation to develop a “community-led” clean energy plan to reduce the Nations reliance on diesel fuel, and shift to renewable energy. Our guests from the Haítzaqv Nation and the engagement team they are working with at Ethello will outline some history of the Nation and the reason behind the project. Important lessons on how to engage with communities will also be shared.

Leona Humchitt ’Qátuw̓as Brown Ben West (Moderator)

Friday, March 26


Opening Remarks

Laird Cronk

Plenary - In Conversation with Minister Bowinn Ma

Join Bowinn Ma and Christine Boyle for a conversation on climate action through action on transportation with connections to land use planning. Together, they’ll explore the question of  how can we transform transportation in line with what science is telling us we need to do when it comes to GHG reductions.

Bowinn Ma Christine Boyle

Health and Wellness Break


Session - Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in Local Government

You are committed to integrating racial justice and equity across the municipality, but the operational plans aren’t going to get you there because they’re not yet in place or just getting underway. So, what can be done now? As it turns out, plenty. In this workshop, you’ll hear about racial justice work and equity initiatives at King County in Washington that can help your community move forward, particularly when it comes to understanding what is required of local electeds to take lead in this area of work.

Janine Anzalota Sharmarke Dubow

Session - A Vision for Public Education

Organized in partnership with the Institute for Public Education, this workshop asks top-of-mind questions, like what do we want public education in British Columbia to be like in ten years time, and what do we need to be doing now to get to that vision.

Colleen Sturrock Jamie Smallboy Owen Ebose Dan Laitsch

Health and Wellness Break


Plenary - In Conversation with Minister George Heyman

The conversation with Minister Heyman explores how local government can be bold in meeting climate and environmental needs both during the pandemic and the time of recovery. It also explores the policy tools the provincial government can give local leaders in their efforts to ‘operationalize’ climate emergency and ensure that it is equitable and inclusive.

George Heyman Jessica McIlroy Rik Logtenberg

Short Break


Plenary - In Conversation with Minister Josie Osborne

Minister Osborne joins us for a conversation on the Ministry’s plans for recovery and the vital role local governments can play in economic planning efforts, shaping community resilience and growth, and ensuring that the recovery is just, equitable, and inclusive

Josie Osborne Amy Lubik

Health and Wellness Break with Gurdeep Pandher

Join us for a very special Health & Wellness break with Gurdeep, a Yukon-based Bhangra instructor.

Gurdeep Pandher

Plenary - In Conversation with Minister Ravi Kahlon

This conversation brings Minister Ravi Kahlon, who focuses on jobs, economic recovery, and innovation, and two of BC’s most dynamic and important economic voices together to address one simple, but critical question: how do we pay for boldness and the recovery we need?

Ravi Kahlon Chuka Ejeckam Iglika Ivanova

Social Event

Saturday, March 27


Opening Remarks

Stephanie Smith

Plenary - The Vital Role of Civil Society in our Communities

This plenary zooms in on the role of civil society at this moment in time and offers insights into what’s going on today and how our communities are being affected? Once this groundwork is laid down, the conversation will explore where we’re headed and what local governments can do along the way. If you want to do a little bit of background reading, check out the Vantage Report.

Alison Brewin Kevin Huang Niki Sharma Kevin Millsip (Moderator)

Short Break


Plenary - Emerging Solutions - Spotlight Two

Fast paced ten-minute spotlights on the latest trends and issues in our communities and the inspirational steps being taken to find do-able solutions.


  1. Better Together: How Community-based Collaborations Support Health Aging (Marcy Cohen)
  2. How to Build an Anti-racist K-12 Public Education System in BC (Markiel Simpson)
Marcy Cohen (Moderator) Markiel Simpson Gaetan Royer

Health and Wellness Break


Session - Building an Economy for All

As we come through the impacts of the pandemic and look for tools and frameworks to build systems that are regenerative and more just, we’ll explore several examples of how to build local economies in BC in ways that take care of both the people and the planet. We’ll learn about the City of Nanaimo’s recent adoption of the Doughnut Economics model, the growing role that co-operatives can play in building healthy, local economies, and how local food systems can contribute to a regenerative economy.
Arzeena Hamir Ben Geselbracht Elvezio Del Bianco David Ng (Moderator)

Session - Putting Anti-racism and Equity at the Centre of the COVID-19 Response & Recovery

This workshop explores the deep and disproportionate disparities of Covid 19 and the implications and impact on our communities. It asks how we can put anti-racism and equity at the forefront of response and recovery and why this moment in time is so critical.

Karen Ward Rosa Elena Artega Yusuf Siraj Ela Esra Gunad (Moderator)

Short Break


Plenary - Emerging Solutions - Spotlight Three

Fast paced ten-minute spotlights on the latest trends and issues in our communities and the inspirational steps being taken to find do-able solutions.


  1. Period Promise: how civic governments can end period poverty (Nikki Hill)
  2. Creative Approaches to Science Education (Carin Bondar)
Carin Bondar Nikki Hill Gaetan Royer

Closing Remarks and Open Discussion on What's Next (and Door Prizes)

Sussanne Skidmore Kevin Millsip (Moderator)

Wednesday, March 31


Women In Leadership

Invitation to be sent out shortly.
Nadine Nakagawa Trudi Goels

Testimonials from High Ground 2019

  • “It was a fantastic opportunity to share and build relationships.”
  • “I met so many interesting people and had such great conversations about issues that concern all of us.”
  • “Very informative and perspective-changing.”
  • “Brilliant and essential conversation.”
  • “Great diversity of speakers and topics.”
  • “A must attend annual event.”
  • “After every High Ground forum, I’m involved in interactions with participants. There’s learning and exchange during each forum and that tends to continue after the forum. High Ground 2019 was fantastic.”