By Doug Lacombe
The #CPRS2019 conference, #EvolvingExpectations kicked off with a bang in Edmonton today as indigenous drum group “Lightning Strikes” pounded out beautiful rhythms that foreshadowed several of the day’s presentations.
The first keynote of the day
, Alicia Wanless, asked us to think long and hard about propaganda, fake news, manipulation, persuasion and democracy in the digital age.
It was a sobering look at how easily we can be duped into unwittingly, or wittingly, participating in propaganda that can do damage to our society.
I’ll be chatting with Alicia tomorrow, so keep your eyes peeled for CPRS #realnews about #fakenews in tomorrow’s dispatches from the conference.
Next up, it was a tough call which of the concurrent workshops to attend with tantalizing topics such as crisis communications, media relations, and reconciliation between Indigenous and non-indigenous peoples on offer. Maybe it was the drum circle. Maybe it was being on Treaty 6 traditional territory. Maybe it was the prospect of hearing someone from the Anglican Church of Canada broach such a thorny subject. Whatever it was, I chose to attend the latter, and boy was I glad I did!
Meghan Kilty, aka @offkilty on Twitter (mega-LOL points for that handle), is National Director, Communications, Anglican Church of Canada. Kilty detailed the research she did as part of her Master’s degree in Communications Management at McMaster University that investigated what role, if any, public relations could play in reconciliation. Stay tuned tomorrow for our coverage of Kilty’s findings and interpretation. Spoiler alert: reconciliation is not fast, nor easy, nor well defined. But it can start with honesty, transparency, and listening.
I can say it was impressive that Kilty did not flinch nor shy away from readily acknowledging the Anglican Church’s role in residential schools. Maybe admitting there is a problem is the first step in resolving that problem?
Capping off the day’s presentations was a powerful keynote by Patricia Makokis, Ed.D. on the importance of allies in the reconciliation process. Patricia too did not flinch or turn away from the realities of history, citing no less than John A. MacDonald’s famous aim to “solve the Indian problem” by “taking the Indian out of the child” among other harsh Canadian realities that we have been slow to face up to, right up to.
Makokis’ sweet emphasis on her grandson, Atayoh, on her white brothers and sisters working as allies, on our common need for a shared future, on walking and talking to aid in reconciliation, and her sense that she is racing to beat the clock to create a better future for everyone, Atayoh included, was inspirational and grounded in hope.
Makokis’ talk and my interview with her deserve deeper analysis, which we will publish in the coming days. For now you can start by watching Treaty Talk, her moving and profound documentary video.
If anything, Day 1 of the Evolving Expectations conference made one thing clear - the communications profession is changing, media is changing, politics are changing, society is changing.
Today’s high calibre speakers challenged CPRS members to help change things for the better.
In other words, evolve.
Since I couldn’t possibly cover everything throughout the day with such a jam-packed lineup, here’s a sampling of what went on from attendees’ points of view. Be sure to check out the #CPRS2019 and #EvolvingExpectations threads on Twitter too.
READ DAY TWO'S HIGHLIGHTS
Doug Lacombe, MBA is president and founder of Communicatto Inc., a digital marketing agency. Drawing on almost 30 years of experience in media, web publishing and technology; Doug and his team work with businesses and associations to integrate traditional and digital communications, with a focus on content marketing, advertising, and social media.