April 2017

The Kids Are Not Alright: The Urgent Need for a National Dialogue to Invest in the Wellbeing of Canada’s Children

11:30am-1:30pm | The Westin Calgary - 320 4th Avenue S.W. , Calgary

Canada is the 5th most prosperous nation in the world, but Canadian kids aren’t reaping the benefits. We rank 17th globally for the wellbeing of children, and drop to 27th place for child health and safety. We can and must do better: Canada’s future depends on it.

Canada’s 150th anniversary provides us with an opportunity reflect on progress made towards advancing the wellbeing of children, and to consider Alberta’s role in providing a strong public policy framework for our youngest citizens. As the only province in Canada to hold a Children’s Charter and Children First legislation, Alberta can play a leadership role to inspire all provinces and our federal government to act in the best interests of children. The provincial government’s most recent efforts on this front are commendable, including commitments to support children including the school nutrition pilot program and a $25/day child care program to support families.

After Children First's initial 2016 launch on the EC platform in Toronto, we are proud to bring this important discussion to Calgary. Join Sara L. Austin, Founder, President and CEO of Children First Canada alongside Danielle Larivee, Minister of Children's Services, Bonnie Johnston, CEO at Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre and youth representative Tony Bedell from Big Brothers Big Sisters Calgary. This discussion will be moderated by Tara Nelson, Executive Editor and Host of CTV Calgary 6pm News.

Member price:
Individual seat: $89 + GST
Table (seats 10): $800 + GST

Regular price:
Individual seat: $110 + GST
Table (seats 10): $990 + GST

- Lunch will be served -

- Interested in sponsoring this event? Email peters@economicclub.ca for available opportunities -

- For information about accessibility, please email peters@economicclub.ca
- Dietary restriction notes and meal requests must be submitted to peters@economicclub.ca 48 hours in advance of event.

The Kids Are Not Alright: The Urgent Need for a National Dialogue to Invest in the Wellbeing of Canada’s Children

Bonnie Johnston

Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre

Bonnie Johnston

Bonnie Johnston has dedicated her career to serving children and families. She currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre, a position she has held since November 2012.

Bonnie began her career as a nurse in an Aboriginal community in northern Alberta and later had a variety of increasingly responsible roles in the health care field in Edmonton and Calgary, including Director of Child and Adolescent Health for the Calgary Health Region. In that role, she was responsible for pediatric inpatient and critical care health services at the Alberta Children’s Hospital and pediatric inpatient services at the Peter Lougheed Centre. She most recently served as the Chief Executive Officer for Calgary & Area Child and Family Services from 2002 to 2012, responsible for programs including Child Protection Services, Family Support for Children with Disabilities and Child Care Licensing and Subsidy. During 2012, Bonnie also served in the role as Acting Assistant Deputy Minister for the Child and Family Service Delivery Division, Ministry of Human Services.

Bonnie holds a Master’s Degree in Health Services Administration from the University of Alberta and a Bachelor of Nursing Degree from the University of Calgary. Her focus is on continuous improvement of outcomes for vulnerable children, youth and families through collaboration, innovation and best practice.

Danielle Larivee

Minister of Children's Services
Government of Alberta

Danielle Larivee

Danielle Larivee was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Alberta as the Member for the constituency of Lesser Slave Lake on May 5, 2015. She was appointed Minister of Children's Services on January 19, 2017.

She previously served as Minister of Municipal Affairs and Minister of Service Alberta.

Prior to serving with the Legislative Assembly of Alberta, Ms. Larivee worked for over 17 years as a registered nurse with Alberta Health Services. During this time she also spent two years working in home care for the Driftpile First Nation and two years as a licensed practical nurse (LPN) instructor with Northern Lakes College.

An active member of her community, she served as treasurer for her local chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) from 2013 to 2015, as chair of the Lesser Slave Lake Regional Wellness Advisory Committee from 2014 to 2015 and as president of local 315 of the United Nurses of Alberta from 2011 to 2015.

Ms. Larivee holds a bachelor of science in midwifery from the Midwives College of Utah and a Bachelor of science in nursing from the University of Alberta. She also is an alumnus of the TUXIS Parliament of Alberta.

Ms. Larivee, together with her three children, resides in Slave Lake, a place that she has called home for over 35 years, and community abundant with rivers and lakes that she enjoys kayaking whenever she has the opportunity.

Sara L. Austin

Founder, President & CEO
Children First Canada

Sara L. Austin

Sara is a world class champion for children, with more than 20 years of global and Canadian experience. As the Founder and CEO of Children First Canada, she leads a national movement to make Canada the best place in the world for kids to grow up.
You’ll find her name on several “most powerful” lists, and for good reason. She has led highly successful advocacy, public awareness and philanthropic campaigns and shaped major public policy efforts. She has learned multiple languages and is fluent in the parlance of diplomacy. Her work has taken her into the top circles of power in the UN, national governments, and boardrooms around the world. In recognition of her efforts, she has twice been awarded the Top 25 Women of Influence, and in 2017 she was the youngest person to be inducted into the Top 100 Most Powerful Women Hall of Fame.
Sara has a proven track record of leading high achieving teams with local and global impact. Most recently she served as the CEO of the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre, where she led Canada’s most advanced frontline agency responding to child abuse. Previously she served as Director of the President’s Office of World Vision Canada, supporting the CEO and Board of Directors and leading strategic initiatives for children and workplace diversity and inclusion.
Her leadership has impacted the lives of millions of children. Most notably, she led a global campaign that resulted in the adoption of the UN Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child for a Communications Procedure (OP3). This ground-breaking law allows kids or their advocates to hold governments accountable for violations of children’s rights.
On a personal level, Sara is married and has a son, and she is a cancer survivor. She is an avid downhill skier, water sports enthusiast and international traveler.

Tara Nelson

Anchor/Executive Editor, CTV Calgary 6pm.

Tara Nelson

Tara Nelson is a Canadian television journalist and news anchor, and most recently was the European bureau chief for Global Television Network's news division. In 2010, Nelson assumed the role as the anchor of the News at 6 at CTV Calgary, replacing Barb Higgins, who left the position after joining the mayoral race in Calgary.

Nelson previously worked as a reporter and anchor for CITV-DT in Edmonton, CHEK-DT in Victoria and CHAN-DT in Vancouver before joining Global National as a reporter. From 2005 to 2008, she served as the program's weekend anchor and primary weekday substitute anchor.

Toney Bedell

Youth Representative
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Calgary

Toney Bedell

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Calgary and Area is a donor-supported, volunteer-driven organization founded on mentoring as a proven strategy for ensuring resiliency, future orientation and social support for children and youth.

For over 30 years, we have been making a positive difference in the lives of young people through a wide range of one-to-one and group mentoring programs, both in school and in the community. We currently serve over 2,000 children and youth, and as many volunteers, in Calgary, Airdrie, Cochrane, High River, Okotoks, and surrounding areas.

Our mentoring programs combine passion with patience, empathy and a generous spirit that encourages real connections to form. Serving as role models, our mentors teach by example the importance of giving and giving back, staying in school and having respect for family, peers and community. Our mentoring relationships challenge and support young people, allowing them to realize they have the ability to succeed and make life-changing decisions.

Each time we match a young person with a mentor, we start something incredible – a life-changing relationship built on friendship, trust and empowerment.

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