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2020 Conference Schedule

Friday March 6th

Alderney Landing

8:30 AM   Registration

9:00 AM   Opening Ceremony                        

                          Dalhousie Elder in Residence Geri Musqua-LeBlanc                     

                          Mayor Mike Savage                    

9:30 AM     Keynote                                           Happy City  

                                                                                        Houssam Elodka

10:30 AM   Break

10:45 AM   Panel Discussion                                Accessibility   

                                                                                        Amanda Casey

                                                                                        Angela Henderson

                                                                                        Lezlie Lowe

                                                                                        Sebastian Salazar

12:30 PM   Lunch

1:30 PM      Keynote                                               Public Washroom Accessibility    
                                                                                        Lezlie Lowe

2:30 PM      Break & Student Poster Session 

3:00 PM      Panel Discussion                             Who Gives a Shift? (Youth Panel)

                                                                                           Andre Anderson

                                                                                           Josh Creighton
                                                                                           Ashley Hill
                                                                                           More to come...

4:00 PM      Closing Ceremony 

4:30 PM      Networking Event                             New Scotland Brewing (Tentative)

7:00 PM      Film Screening                                     There's Something in the Water

8:15 PM      Film Q&A                                                      Ingrid Waldron

Saturday March 7th

North End Public Library

9:00 AM     Registration 

9:30 AM     Keynote                                             Inequity & Exclusion

                                                                                          Ted Rutland

11:00 AM   Break

11:15 AM   Panel Discussion                                  Inequity & Exclusion

                                                                                          Ingrid Waldron

                                                                                          Irvine Carvery

                                                                                          Mapfumo Chidzonga

                                                                                          More to come...

12:45 PM   Lunch

1:30 PM     Keynote                                              Airbnb Effects on Affordable Housing

                                                                                          David Wachsmith

2:30 PM     Break

2:45 PM     Panel Discussion                                   Housing Affordability

                                                                                          Claudia Jahn

                                                                                          Neil Lovitt

                                                                                          Rene Babin

                                                                                          Bette Watson

                                                                                          Vel Oakes

                                                                                          Paul Dec

                                                                                          Jenny Lugar

4:15 PM   Closing Ceremony


Panel Discussions

Who Gives a Shift

A panel discussion on the social issues around communities and the discussion about who should be involved in the development of these communities

The panel consists of young people from the community


This panel will discuss topics diverse as such as physical accessibility to places, access to services, and mental health aspects of urban spaces

Inequity & Exclusion

This panel will discuss issues such as racism, social justice, meaningful public engagement with diverse communities

Housing Affordability

Panelists will discuss issues such as non-profit housing , housing fiance, affordable housing in Dartmouth, alternatives for rural communities

There's Something in the Water

Ellen Page brings attention to the injustices and injuries caused by environmental racism in her home province, in this urgent documentary on Indigenous and African Nova Scotian women fighting to protect their communities, their land, and their futures.

2020 Conference Speaker Bios more coming soon!!!

Andre Anderson


Andre Anderson is an artist, entrepreneur, and community advocate. As an economics major at Saint Mary’s University and founder of the social enterprise FortyFour Consulting, he aims to make a lasting impact within his community through growth and education. He hopes to be a pioneer in the new age of Black Nova Scotian leaders by bridging the gaps between potential and opportunity for all.

Dr. Amanda Casey

Dr. Amanda Casey is an Associate Professor within the Department of Human Kinetics at St. Francis Xavier University. Dr. Casey’s applied research program involves designing, implementing and evaluating community-based participatory action research in the field of disability and health. More specifically, by focusing on universal design principles, she seeks to foster evidence-based practice through the creation of carefully structured clinical interventions and community initiatives that promote health equity for at-risk populations including people with autism and intellectual disability.  Her published research un journals such as Disability & Health, Disability & Rehabilitation and Inclusion has focused on preventative medicine, vulnerable population health, co-morbidities, accessibility, assistive technology as well as knowledge transfer and results. An advocate for inclusion, Dr. Casey has been a Board member of non-profit organizations including Nova Scotia Early Childhood Intervention, L’Arche, and Positive Action for Keppoch.
Mapfumo Chidzonga

Mapfumo Chidzonga is a proud Zimbabwean currently working at Halifax Regional Municipality as a Diversity and Inclusion Advisor for the Planning and Development department. He works at the forefront of championing equity, diversity and inclusion as core considerations in plans, policies, programs, community engagement practices and public services. He is passionate about building trust, equitable, inclusive and meaningful relationships with underrepresented communities. Mapfumo’s values are rooted in the African philosophy of Hunhu (Ubuntu), through which he was raised to embody and instill the qualities of integrity, compassion, reciprocity, and respect for the dignity of all persons. He holds a master’s degree in International Development Studies from Dalhousie University.

Paul Dec

Paul is a Planner at the UPLAND Planning + Design Studio in Dartmouth. He grew up in Poland as well as Germany and lived on a couple of continents before settling down in Nova Scotia. Paul has a planning degree from the University of the West of England in Bristol, UK. From 2017 to January of 2020 he worked for the Eastern District Planning Commission, which shapes land use planning for six municipalities in eastern Nova Scotia. One of the largest projects during that time was the Municipal Planning Strategy review in the Town of Antigonish, which had a strong focus on housing affordability.

Angela Henderson

Angela Henderson is a Canadian artist, designer and educator basedin Halifax, Nova Scotia. Her practice emerges from a continuous investigation of the built environment, focusing on absenceas a generative condition. Henderson strivesto draw out the physical and metaphorical betweenness of urban space that is leftover, abandoned and in transition. In her pedagogical work, she interrogates contemporary methods of urban design and development looking at the potential of spaces that are overlooked or utilized without permission of governing authorities. Spatial explorations are undertaken throughembodied approached to mapping with a focus on the open-ended nature of play as a critical mode of practice. Working with children, artists and design students, Henderson explores the interplay between imaginary and material configurations within civicspace. Rather than identifying with a particular medium or technique,her practice is a process of creative investigation and problem solving where art, design and pedagogy coalesce in a process of conceptual inquiry and meaning-making.

Ashley Hill 

Ashley Hill is a proud African Nova Scotian and Mi’kmaq woman. She is a first-generation university student, having received her BA from Dalhousie University in Sociology where she focused on social and criminal justice. Her dedication and willingness to help others is heavily influenced by her grandmother Bernetta Rose Hill, Ashley strives to continue her grandmother’s legacy through her work.

Ashley is passionate about art-based learning and experiential education, and firmly believes education exists far beyond the walls of a traditional school. She works to help youth conquer challenges to achieve their full potential by offering educational guidance and helping youth make the right choices in relation to school, career and all-around development. 

In her current role as Manager of Youth Programs with the Black Business Initiative, she collaborates with youth, parents, schools, community organizations and resource agencies and develops programs that create opportunities for youth to explore their leadership abilities.

Ashley believes that young people possess the passion, skills and insights to be powerful community leaders and she strives to help youth discover their inner creative potential.

Claudia Jahn

Claudia Jahn is the Director of Community Housing Development with the Affordable Housing Association of Nova Scotia (AHANS). Claudia has been studying, working and volunteering in the housing and homelessness sector for over 30 years. Prior to moving from Germany to Nova Scotia, she was actively involved in the development and management of private and social housing portfolios in Berlin.

Claudia was the Program Director of Community Action on Homelessness for seven years before joining the AHANS in 2012. At this time AHANS assumed its new role as the Community Entity of the federal Homelessness Partnering Strategy (HPS) for Halifax and rural Nova Scotia. In her current role she combines her passion for social justice, homelessness, affordable housing development and management.

Claudia has served on various boards and is currently the co-chair of the Affordable Housing Working Group of the Halifax Housing and Homelessness Partnership.

Neil Lovitt


Neil is a technically and professionally trained planner with Turner Drake & Partners in Halifax, where he is currently vice-president of Planning & Economic Intelligence. He holds a Bachelor of Community Design degree from Dalhousie University, a Diploma in GIS & Urban Planning from Fanshawe College, and a Diploma in Urban Land Economics from the University of British Columbia. At Turner Drake, Neil works with a team of professionals that marry expertise in real estate economics and market intelligence with planning and development projects.

Lezlie Lowe

Lezlie Lowe began her freelance radio, newspaper, and magazine career in 1996. She has penned and produced pieces on urban rats, roadkill cemeteries and, prominently, public toilets. Lowe has been a finalist and multiple winner at the Radio Television Digital News Association Awards, the Atlantic Journalism Awards, and the Canadian Association of Journalists Awards, and has taught journalism at the University of King's College since 2003. Her first book, No Place To Go: How Public Toilets Fail Our Private Needs (Coach House, 2018; Melville House UK, 2019) was nominated for two Atlantic Book Awards. Lowe, a failed urban planner, has an abiding passion for equity in public spaces.

Jenny Lugar, LPP, MCIP 

Jenny is a planner at WSP in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. She has worked on a variety of planning studies and with a focus in Active Transportation Planning, Municipal Policy Development, and Sustainability Planning. Her career began in the non-profit sector, working with Halifax charity Ecology Action Centre, which grew her relationship with the grassroots and led to a breadth of experience in designing and facilitating public engagement programs. Jenny often presents at conferences on Future Ready Planning, a WSP sustainability initiative. She has a Masters in Environmental Studies in Urban Planning from York University.

Geri Musqua-LeBlanc

Geri is a proud Nakawe woman. She is Bear Clan and is a residential school survivor. Geri is a mother, grandmother and great grandmother. She is a pipe carrier and a Women’s Traditional dancer. Geri is a recipient of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal recognizing her work in social justice and employment equity.

Since retiring from the Federal Government, she has volunteered with many organizations and has campaigned for clean drinking water for First Nation communities. In 2015, Geri took on the role of Coordinator of the Elders in Residence program at Dalhousie University. The Elders provide cultural, spiritual and emotional support to Indigenous students. They offer encouragement and in particular, we offer hugs from grandmothers and grandfathers.

Vel Oakes

Vel is a long time resident of Dartmouth North, having lived off-and-on in a variety of housing types within the neigbourhoods located between the Macdonald and MacKay Bridges in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Most recently, she has been living in Dartmouth North for the past 7 years and is an active resident in her community.

Vel has been involved in Between the Bridges since the early stages. In 2017 she took part in a Residents Conversation Cafe, intended to recruit resident voices to the initiative of working in new ways to ‘Break the Cycle’. She is currently involved as a member of the Residents Roundtable and as a key participant in the Social Innovation Lab on Housing in Dartmouth North - a 7-day commitment that has evolved over the past year. 

Vel continues her leadership in the area of Housing with a group working on Tiny Homes considering what may be possible within the pending municipal changes to bylaws related to secondary suites. 

Mike Savage

Mike Savage was first elected Mayor of Halifax Regional Municipality on October 20, 2012, with a mandate to make Halifax the most liveable, entrepreneurial and inclusive city in Canada, principles that continue to shape his work at City Hall and in the community. Now in his second term, Mayor Savage continues his work to make the Halifax region a place where residents can live, belong and thrive. As an active member of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) Big City Mayors’ Caucus, Mayor Savage is a strong local and national voice in support of local economic development, immigration, social equity, and infrastructure investment.

DeRico Symonds

DeRico Symonds is employed full time with Halifax Regional Municipality as a Program Manager of the Youth Advocate Program and part-time with Mount Saint Vincent University as a Black Student Support Coordinator. In 2013, DeRico received the Queens diamond Jubilee Century of Service Award; he received the Irving & Ruth Pink award for youth development and social justice in 2016, and the Dr. Burnley “Rocky” Jones Human Rights Award from the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission in 2018. DeRico has tirelessly advocated for communities across HRM for issues including but not limited to: Poverty, Unemployment, Affordable Housing, Marginalization, and Community Violence. DeRico holds an undergraduate degree in Child & Youth Study (2012), and completed a MEd in Counselling through Acadia University (2018) and is currently completing his CCC certification (Canadian Certified Counsellor Certification.

Dr. Ted Rutland 

Dr. Ted Rutland is an Associate Professor in the Concordia University Department of Geography, Planning and Environment. His research examines how cities are understood and governed in modernity, and how white supremacy shapes urban thought and practice. His 2018 book, Displacing Blackness: Planning, Power, and Race in Twentieth Century Halifax, examines how anti-Black racism shaped urban planning practices across more than a century in Halifax, Nova Scotia. His current research focuses on Montréal, and a series of issues related to housing, urban security, and policing. 

Sebastián Salazar


Sebastián is Peruvian by birth and Canadian by choice and has lived in various places throughout the Americas. He has a bachelor’s degree in Russian/Eurasian Studies and a master’s in Urban Planning, and he is currently the community liaison for the City of Fredericton, a role that allows him to partner with many community initiatives in increasing social inclusion and strengthening social cohesion. He is an avid proponent of bringing the human scale back to communities, both in terms of built form and public engagement, and he is intent on understanding the challenges of integration for diverse cultural communities and gender and sexual minorities, the root causes of social isolation for vulnerable populations, and the effects of technology on mental health. He lives happily car-free and Internet-free in downtown Fredericton but he did succumb to the practicality of a smartphone.

Dr. Ingrid Waldron 

Dr. Ingrid Waldron is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Health at Dalhousie University, the Director of the Environmental Noxiousness, Racial Inequities & Community Health Project (The ENRICH Project), and the Team Lead for the Health of People of African Descent Research Cluster at the Healthy Populations Institute. Ingrid’s scholarship is driven by a long-standing interest in looking at the many ways in which spaces and places are organized by structures of colonialism and gendered racial capitalism. Her 2018 book,  There’s Something in the Water: Environmental Racism in Indigenous and Black Communities  inspired the 2019 documentary There’s Something in the Water, produced by Waldron with actress Ellen Page and Ian Daniel.

Bette Watson

Bette is the Project Leader of Between the Bridges, an initiative that is using a Collective Impact framework to address complex social issues in Dartmouth North that are identified as priority by the community.

Bette worked for the YMCA across Canada for over 25 years in a variety of roles, all with a focus on leadership development, community capacity building, and social impact. She joined the emerging Between the Bridges initiative in 2015, working with colleague Matt Spurway, Community Coordinator, and a growing network of committed residents and leaders from the public, non-profit, and private sectors who are working in new ways together.

 Currently there are over 80 people directly engaged around the current priorities of Affordable and Quality Housing, Student Success, Access to Health Services, and Community Capacity & Skill Building. Bette’s role includes facilitation, process design, evaluation, ongoing communication and lots of catering!