Detailed Program

We sold out the event space at Ryerson. Here's a record of what went down.


Plenary Sessions: 


Organizing as Transformation: the Dogwood Story 

Will Horter, Executive Director, Dogwood Initiative

Will Horter felt like great ideas where going nowhere when lobbying elected officials. Worse, his organization was on the verge of closing its doors due to budget issues. How did the BC-based Dogwood Initiative turn itself around? And, how do we build on this model to collectively achieve change? Explore the foundations of building power in the era of micro-targeting.



Building a Winning Movement

Tzeporah Berman

Tzeporah Berman has been designing and winning environmental campaigns in Canada and internationally for 20 years.  She currently works as a strategic advisor for dozens of environmental organizations, First Nations and philanthropic advisors on clean energy, oilsands and pipelines.  She is the former co-director of Greenpeace International's Global Climate and Energy Program, Executive Director and Co-founder of PowerUp Canada and Co-founder and Campaign Director of ForestEthics. 


Clayton Thomas Muller

Clayton Thomas-Muller, of the Mathais Colomb Cree Nation in Northern Manitoba, is an activist, writer, public speaker, facilitator and activist for indigenous self-determination and environmental justice. Working as co-director of the Indigenous Tar Sands Campaign of the Polaris Institute, as North American native energy organizer and tar sands campaign organizer for the Indigenous Environmental Network, and as an organizer with the Defenders of the Land Idle No More campaign, he has been on the front lines of stopping industrial society’s assault on Indigenous Peoples lands.


Deena Ladd

For 20 years, Deena Ladd has been working to improve wages and working conditions primarily for racialized communities, women, low-wage workers and immigrant workers. She has worked as a union organizer with garment workers, home-based workers, social service, retail and manufacturing workers. Deena has developed and taught courses and training sessions for rank and file unionized women, young workers and workers of colour for various federations of labour, unions and community organizations. She has helped build and works at The Workers’ Action Centre in Toronto.


Municipal Elections Debrief: Lessons from the Field 

City-wide municipal elections are a great opportunity to innovate and try new organizing tools and tactics. This session will feature some of the best practices new ideas from organizers from the Olivia Chow and Vision Vancouver municipal election campaigns. Organizers will discuss how these campaigns used the latest in field tactics to build support for their campaigns, and compare stories from the field in the recent Toronto and Vancouver municipal elections. 


David Wins!

Nova Scotia Prohibition on Fracking with Jennifer West, Ecology Action Centre

With a background in math, teaching, and energy efficiency, Jennifer West is a geologist who started working on groundwater monitoring at Nova Scotia’s Ecology Action Centre in 2010.  During the development of a community based groundwater monitoring model called Groundswell, grassroots fear of fracking caused Jennifer to launch the Nova Scotia Fracking Resource and Action Coalition.  Now a respected research and policy based coalition with a strong and independent steering committee, NOFRAC, the EAC and local campaigners and volunteers have helped to steer the provincial government toward a clear and effective act to ban fracking.


No Casino Toronto

Over the course of a year and a half, No Casino Toronto took a Toronto City Council vote from a clear YES to a casino, to a definitive NO (40-4 votes). They strategically engaged thousands of Toronto residents online and directly at their doors. Hear from campaign leaders Maureen Lynette and Michal Hay about how they pulled off this dramatic turnaround. 



Concurrent Sessions


From Online to Offline: How takes change from the web to the ground

 Do online petitions really work? What percentage of your online supporters will show up in person? uses digital platforms to create opportunities to bridge to offline tactics. Hear what works for us, and what doesn't. Discuss strategies to leverage viral online campaigns and build lists for deep offline organizing. Combine #hashtags and creative action to make change and win. 

Amara Possian and Jamie Biggar,


Unique tools for listbuilding success 

The Canadian freshwater community has been testing strategies to drive list-building success including unique canvas tools to social media conversions.  This session will explore these list-building strategies in more detail while using the StoryMaps platform to display how crowdsourcing stories can be a powerful connector for social movement list-building.  StoryMaps is a crowdsourced video mapping platform that invites Canadians to connect their values to vital social and environmental issues. As a canvas tool, it offers tremendous opportunity to bring new audiences into your base while creating opportunity for deepening engagement. 

Lindsay Telfer, Canadian Freshwater Alliance


Growing the Labour Movement: Coalitions, Campaigns, and Chapters

The labour movement is under attack politically. How to respond? This session will provide some insight and share some new ideas for renewing the labour movement and to fight for working people. Labour councils and allied organizations offer one opportunity for unions and the community to work together on coalitions such as the Community Benefit Agreements Network. Unifor has also launched a new community chapter model that organizes people outside of full workplace contracts, reaching new circles of people. What other ideas are there to renew labour in Canada today?

John Cartwright, Toronto and York Region Labour Council

Steve Shallhorn, Labour Education Centre

Roxanne Dubois, Unifor


Crawling. Walking. Running: Stages of Distributed Organizing.

Whether you are new to engagement organizing or a seasoned veteran, there are lessons, tips, tools and questions that can help us all. Join with this seasoned panel of organizing veterans to explore the various stages of distributed organizing philosophy.

Celine Trojand, Dogwood Initiative

Graham Saul, Ecology Ottawa

Krystyn Tully, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper



Can Organizing Solve Toronto's Transit Logjam?



The recent Toronto municipal election featured prominent debates over the best way to improve transit service for residents across the City. This session will explore people-centred organizing by two organizations in the thick of transit politics. 

Jennifer Huang, TTCriders and Toronto and York Region Labour Council

Franz Hartmann, Toronto Environmental Alliance 


Not Your Grandparent's Organization: Accelerating Change With Technology

We are at a critical point with tech & organizations: organizations used to relegate tech to their communications or fundraising departments, and used the web primarily to broadcast information to their supporters. Now organizations are looking to web-based tech as an opportunity for company-wide systemic change. In this session we will look at how organizations can change, evolve and jump-start their mandate using web-based tech.

Josh Stuart and Amy Leaman, C-street Campaigns

Peter Wrinch, NationBuilder 


Data 201: Targeting

You've only got so many hours in the day and dollars in the bank, so how do you figure out how to most efficiently identify and engage your supporters? Matt Smith from Statcom will walk through the basics of targeting, the Why's and the How's. Aaron Freeman of Pivot Strategic Consulting will talk about a new project that will make it easier for groups of all sizes to use targeting in their work.Matt_headshot.pngaaron_headshot.png

Matt Smith, Stratcom

Aaron Freeman, Pivot Strategic Consulting


Third Party Organizing in Elections: The Municipal Experience

How can actors other than candidates or parties have an impact on elections? Both ACORN and Ecology Ottawa had an impact in the Toronto and Ottawa municipal races. Hear what strategies and tactics they employed to break through the noise and connect with voters and candidates.judyduncanphoto1.jpgGrahamSaul.jpg

Judy Duncan and John Anderson, ACORN Canada

Graham Saul and Robb Barnes, Ecology Ottawa


US Midterm Election Debrief

This fall, a group of intrepid Canadian organizers from across the country were sent by the Broadbent Institute to Chicago to be 

trained by leading US-based campaigners. Some went on to hone their skills in midterm election campaigns. In this session they’ll share some of the best, campaign-tested practices and organizer tools from those experiences.

 Todd Hofley, Lele Truong, Abad Khan, Katelynn Northam, and Jill Piebiak


Organizing with Immigrant Communities

Organizing with immigrant communities is key in finding solutions to local issues, but it is a mistake to identify only one approach or model because of the diversity of contexts within communities. This session will look at successful approaches that can work to create cumulative change. 

Alejandra Bravo, Maytree Foundation

Desmond Cole, CityVote

Niambi Martin-John, Malton Community Building Project 

Chris Sorio, Migrante Canada


Developing Leaders

Marshall Ganz describes the core work of organizers as identifying, recruiting, and developing leaders. Hear from organizers and trainers from the TTCriders, the Broadbent Institute, and the Organize BC project about tools and best practices for developing leaders in our organizing work. 


Jessica Bell Photo

Jessica Bell, TTCriders

Rosalie Sawrie, One Cowichan

Graham Mitchell, The Broadbent Institute

Katie Harrison, Force of Nature 


Rural Organizing

How do you organize in communities you don't live in or fully understand?  Teika Newton (Transition Kenora)  will talk about the process of building alliances between Treaty 3 communities and some of the complexities that come with that territory.  Sabrina Bowman (Environmental Defence) will talk about some of the challenges she has experienced working on a province-wide campaign against Energy East which has also challenged her understanding of  rural and Northern Ontario. Karren Wallace (NDACT - Stop the Mega Quarry) will speak about the Stop The Mega Quarry battle and how an unusual alliance of farmers and city people defeated a major industrial project in Southern Ontario.  

Teika Newton, Transition KenoraRural_panel.png

Sabrina Bowman, Environmental Defence

Karren Wallace, NDACT-Stop the Mega Quarry


New Organizing In Labour Towns

Oshawa and Windsor share a history of being strong labour towns but recently have not seen progressive values reflected in many of the elected officials from those areas. We Are Oshawa and Making Waves Windsor/Essex are two responses. Hear about the benefits and pitfalls of membership-driven organizing, capacity-building through issue-based campaigning, and why it is important to integrate creativity and fun into your organization’s campaign tactics.

Jesse Cullen and Jim Freeman, We Are Oshawa

Tracie Edward and Ken Lewenza Jr, Making Waves Windsor/Essex


 Place-Based Organizing

As a new immigrant, Sabina Ali fell in love with her neighbourhood of Thorncliffe park, but was disappointed


Sabina-Ali.jpgby a lack of public space.  So she organized with other immigrant women to take an over-crowded and derelict park and turn it into the heart of the community, with a new playground, cultural market and a tandoor oven.

Effie Vlachoyannacos has been actively involved in Scarborough through the Scarborough Civic Action Network as well as working on housing issues through the Save our Structures campaign and Tenants for Social Housing.

Sabina Ali, Thorncliffe Park Women's Committee

Effie Vlachoyannacos


Working as an Ally
The past couple of years has seen indigenous organizing reach new levels of public awareness. This has been aided by the Idle No More movement which catalyzed indigenous and ally communities across Canada (and the world) to unite in an effort to elevate attention and awareness to indigenous self determination, all through a tremendous grassroots strategy of engagement.  Working as an ally alongside indigenous communities is more than just knowing about Idle No More, this session will explore stories and strategies of how social movement organizing can align and support the efforts of indigenous communities and colleagues.  


Thank you to our CanRoots East Supporters and Sponsors!