Written by Kayli McClelland, Creative Media Specialist, Ever Active Schools

Well that was a ride! After months of planning, a postponement and a venue change, we are proud to say that Shaping the Future 2022 was a roaring success!

It feels so good to be back together in this learning and celebratory environment! Thank you to [the] presenters and organizers!!

You have done an amazing job with this conference. I am grateful I was able to be here.”

“This has been an amazing experience for me, my brain is overloaded and my heart is full. I would recommend this conference over and over. I’m hoping to come every chance I get moving forward.”

View the conference photo album.

Elder Helmer Twoyoungmen of Morley opened the conference on Thursday in a good way with a prayer and songs, and a Grand Entry of dancers from Amisk Community School wowed the ballroom. From there, Dr. Phil McRae of the Alberta Teachers’ Association spoke candidly of the effects of the pandemic on the education system, and more specifically, on teachers. He reminded us that as we enter the next normal, we need to focus on a culture of play, to bring back boredom, to get outside, to savor the good, to share our happiness with others.

From there, we headed into back-to-back concurrent sessions, focusing on a variety of learning streams. From active living to healthy food environments to reconciliation and resiliency, there was something for every learning goal.

New to Shaping the Future this year was a very fun Exhibitor MarketPLAYce! Delegates had the opportunity to interact with our exhibitors, including Eighty-Eight Brewing, HPEC, Peerspective Consulting, Gopher Sport, TiDox Envirotek, the University of Alberta Faculty of Kinesiology, Sport and Recreation, and of course, Ever Active Schools. Meanwhile, there were games galore and a contest for the best loungewear, won by an impressively bright romper. To cap off the day, a bonfire with smores and songs brought everybody smiles and new friends.

Friday morning started bright and early with wellness opportunities including a morning run, smudge, meditation and strength and stretch class. After a hearty breakfast, our early birds and the later risers all headed into deep-diving workshops. Some headed outdoors to play in the snow with Court Rustemeyer, while others learned about Cree star stories, health education, cross-curricular learning opportunities, and more. 

At lunch, dietitians Anna Lutz and Katherine Zavodni shared the importance of developmental stages when discussing a topic as sensitive and as complex as food and nutrition, which can have long lasting impacts on our relationship with food and self image. They shared a different way of teaching about food: one of modeling, rather than telling, by taking time to eat together, making food together, talking about where food comes from, sharing foods from different cultures, and exploring the colours and textures of foods.

After one more workshop block, delegates headed out to take in a dedicated wellness break by enjoying the Nordic Spa, reading a story along a beautiful walk with Trail Tales, or maybe indulging in a well-earned rest. This break led us straight into the always-entertaining Friday night banquet! Following a wonderful opening from Elder Flora Northwest, the incredible RedCloud and Tammy Lamouche provided some entertainment including freestyle rapping, singing and leading the crowd through a game of Kreengo, an Indigenous language-based bingo, helping us learn some words in Cree through a little friendly competition. 

Many folks danced the night away after dinner, leaving us with only a mighty few keen to join the morning wellness opportunities. The 90’s throwback songs really did many of us in. But, in an energizing turn, Dr. Pamela Toulouse woke us all up with her outgoing personality and humour – just the kickstart we needed for a sleepy Saturday morning! Dr. Pam challenged us to learn our own relations. She encouraged schools to reach out to the communities on which they stand and learn from the elders and knowledge keepers, and to begin with the humble start of three little words: “I don’t know.”

Hot on the heels of this movement- and laughter-filled keynote, delegates experienced a new-to-STF style of session with Podclass: Extra Credit. These sessions focused on individual episodes of The Podclass, an educational podcast developed by Ever Active Schools and the Werklund School of Education. In book club-style circles, delegates joined in moderated discussions on the topics and episodes at hand, deepening their learning and providing the opportunity to bounce ideas off of one another. 

In the final session block of the conference, student presenters from Prairie Waters Elementary and Calgary Islamic School OBK Campus showed us how the work we all do really does shape the future. There were smiles all around watching these students come into their own.

In an exciting closing, we drew names for a variety of prizes, including two golden tickets to Shaping the Future 2023, one of which was donated by one of our board members, Alim Gillani! The winners of these tickets will receive complimentary registration to next year’s conference in Lake Louise from February 2-4, 2023.

We are incredibly grateful for the support and enthusiasm of all of our delegates, presenters and exhibitors. This conference is a highlight every year and we couldn’t do it without you. A quote from a delegate sums up all of our feelings about this conference beautifully.

Look around – we’re surrounded by people who want to make this world better. How special is that?”

Registration is now open for next year’s conference! We hope to see you there to experience this one-of-a-kind event and build the connections we all thrive on.

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