What a thrill to attend the Economic Developers Association of Canada Conference in Whitehorse, Yukon September 19 – 22. The theme ‘Be Different’ was a fitting foundation for this conference at the north west corner of our country. The program and the speakers carried through on this theme, inspiring us to think differently about our communities and the programs we deliver. We were challenged to identify the elements that make our communities exceptional.
The format this year was also different from previous conferences. I was honoured to participate with a PechaKucha presentation on the Future of Work and the Clash of the Economic Developers debate. The second day of the conference focused on hands on learning with tours to organizations and communities addressing a range of economic development challenges and opportunities including rebuilding one-industry towns and leveraging unique tourism assets.
The cultural nerd in me was thrilled to hear slam poet Shane Koyczan riff on the beauty of being different. My political nerd side was inspired by Former Prime Minister Joe Clark’s speech on leadership in a time of tremendous change. The imperative for municipal and first nations economic development collaboration was weaved throughout the conference.
This conference continues to feed my national pride. Through EDAC, I have had the opportunity to visit 9 of the 10 provinces. (Saskatchewan 2016 here I come!) I’ve also had an opportunity to visit 2 of our 3 territories. After each conference, I’ve come away with a better understanding of the diversity and the richness of our Country. I’ve also found that despite our differences and maybe because of them, there are lessons we can learn and apply to our own communities.