The Community Futures Network of Canada (CFNC) held a national conference in Ottawa from May 8 - 10, highlighting the contributions the Community Futures Program makes in helping Canada’s rural, remote and Indigenous communities become more sustainable. 

The event brought together more than 500 decision-makers and industry leaders for the three-day event explained the CFNC in a press release. People travelled from all thirteen provinces and territories, including two members of Sagehill Community Futures in attendance, to network, share practices, and learn new approaches to developing strong, economically sustainable communities. 

The CFNC states one of the highlights of the event was a reception on Monday, May 9, at the Westin Ottawa, which had an attendance of more than 50 Members of Parliament from all parties, with the Honourable Gudie Hutchings, Minister of Rural Economic Development, delivering the opening remarks at the reception.

“Important programs like Community Futures remind us that for Canada to succeed, we need our rural and remote communities to thrive. The Government of Canada is committed to continuing to support the economic growth and resilience of rural Canada. Budget 2022 proposes a range of important programs and initiatives to support Canadians living and working in rural communities. We all need to double down, and support the economic diversification and sustainability of our villages, towns, hamlets and coves from coast-to-coast-coast.” said the Honourable Gudie Hutchings, Minister of Rural Economic Development.

The conference also included opening remarks from  the Honourable Helena Jaczek, Minister Responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) on behalf of Canada’s regional development agencies, and a keynote address by Sébastien Sasseville whose presentation, “One Step at a Time: Thriving in Change to Win the Long Game,” set the tone for the whole conference, stated CFNC.

“By utilizing their regional knowledge and ability to provide direct on-the-ground support to the unique rural communities they serve, Community Futures Development Corporations play a vital role in delivering support, building partnerships and providing mentorship to rural businesses and organizations.” said the Honourable Helena Jaczek, Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario).

Other notable speakers highlighted from the event by CFNC included change management specialist Mark DeVolder on leading organizations through change, scientist and astronaut Dr. Shawna Pandya on success, failure and resilience, and Kyle Larkin on grassroots advocacy.