When you imagine Canada's future, what do you see?

On Sept. 13, 11 panelists from various sectors in Calgary came to Mount Royal University to initiate dialogue focused on exploring the various issues that are perceived to face Canada over the next five, 10 and 20 years.

Facilitated by the Faculty of Arts, with the support of the Mount Royal community, the Imagining Canada's Future panel, which was one of 11 forming part of the Prairie Regional Consortium, consisted of prominent members of the Calgary community from the academic, non-profit, private and public sectors:

Wayne Baerwald Director/Curator Exhibitions Outreach, ACAD
Mel Benson President, Mel E. Benson Management Services
Andrew Bentley General Sales Manager, Canada, Longview Systems Inc.
Julie Cormack, PhD Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Mount Royal University
Clark Grue CEO and President, Rainmaker Global Business Development
Jeanette Keeping BA ARCT, Community Member
Greg Kist Vice President of Marketing, Corporate and Government Relations, Progress Energy Resources Corp.
Nicole MacInnis Fourth year honours student in sociology, Mount Royal University
His Worship Naheed Nenshi Mayor, City of Calgary
Vanessa Porteous Artistic Director, Alberta Theatre Projects
Famira Racy Senior psychology major, Mount Royal University
Katherine Starzyk Assistant Professor of Psychology, Mount Royal University
Ezra Voth Masters student in Political Science, University of Calgary

An array of expertise

Imagining Canada's Future is an initiative from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) that was established as a people-centered model of innovation. The initiative calls upon the talent, knowledge and expertise of researchers in social sciences and humanities to help form a foundation of informed thinking about critical social, cultural and economic issues currently facing Canadians while looking towards the future.

"It was very interesting to see community members from different sectors come together to initiate dialogue around various issues and explore the interconnectedness of them while interpreting their potential impacts on the various sectors," says Keshen.

As a continuation of the panel discussions, an activity report containing qualitative evidence will be compiled based on the conclusions of the dialogue and will be submitted to SSHRC. From these results, SSHRC will identify themes and commonalities across the regions, which, in turn, will help make funding agencies more responsive to future issues that Canada will face in coming years.

The dialogue between panel participants focused on issues including the aging population, Aboriginal population growth, the arts, and economics and how they interconnect on a macro level across our country.

"Holding events like Imagining Canada's Future at Mount Royal is a fantastic opportunity for us to leverage these kinds of relationships for other programs, to build upon a history of engagement from our community and become the go-to for future initiatives," says Keshen.

"It was great to see the Mount Royal community come together like this for such an amazing event."

- Brendan Greenslade, Sept. 20, 2012