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Hopeful Economics summit tackles reconciliation, social enterprise and public policy

Hopeful Economics Leadership and Innovation Summit hosted by SFU and City of Vancouver

Nicole Chaland, Program Director, SFU Certificate Program for Community Economic Development. Photo courtesy SFU CED.

How can we build an economy that both sustains us and enriches our lives? This is the central question of a new summit co-hosted by Simon Fraser University and the City of Vancouver on April 21-22.

Hopeful Economics: Leadership & Innovation Summit  will bring together innovators from the private and non-profit sector, First Nations, post-secondary and government to discuss community initiatives underway to combat inequality and poverty and to generate ideas for building a new economy.

"Hopeful Economics is about what’s working, and about the big ideas inspiring community transformation.”

Featuring two full days of workshops, with renowned speakers, panel discussions and more, the summit explores themes of economic reconciliation, social entrepreneurship, community benefit agreements and local impact investing. 

“People know what the problems are. The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer, and we’re stressing our ecosystems to the max to get these pretty shabby outcomes,” says Nicole Chaland, SFU Community Economic Development Program Director and driving force behind the summit. 

“At the same time, there are pockets of innovation and sustainability. This summit will shine a light on initiatives that create Indigenous forms of wealth, place dignity at the centre of the economic experience and address the root causes of inequality.”

Wes Regan, Community Economic Development Planner for the City of Vancouver, says many cities and communities are already embracing new ways of doing business.

“Social ventures that blend financial return with social return are on the rise,” says Regan. “At the same time, crucial discussions on reconciliation are opening up exciting possibilities to reimagine the future. Hopeful Economics is about what’s working, and about the big ideas inspiring community transformation.”

However, there is no easy waving-of-the-wand solution, says Chaland, especially when it come to one-industry communities still being promised major resource extraction projects. 

“An economic development system reliant on resource extraction was never meant to last forever,” says Chaland. “That’s the hard truth. We are being fed a lie when we’re told we can do that again…. Today’s reality is about economic diversification. That is the pathway to long term economic sustainability.”

Speakers and panelists are leaders in their fields, coming from across Canada and the U.S. Summit speakers include:

  • Shaun Loney, whose new book Army of Problem Solvers: Reconciliation and the Solutions Economy, explains the role of government in helping problem solvers (social entrepreneurs) instead of hindering them.
  • Danielle Levine, CEO of Kanuu Indigenous Innovation Society, and former head of the Ch’nook Indigenous Business Education program at UBC’s Sauder School of Business, who reveals social enterprise opportunities with the most potential to impact economic empowerment and reconciliation.
  • Sheryl Rivers, who is working with a Chinese developer in creating an entire master-planned sustainable community from the bottom up and according to the highest Squamish protocols.
  • Judy Wicks, entrepreneur and author of Good Morning, Beautiful Business, who makes the case for a more compassionate place-based economy;

Afternoon panel discussions will explore important questions such as:

  • What can be done about retail gentrification?
  • How can we build an ecosystem for local impact investing?
  • What does economic development look like through the lens of Reconciliation? 
  • How can we build an ecosystem for place-based enterpreneurs?
  • What are the emerging industry wide best practices for community and impact benefit agreements? 

For a full list of speakers and panel discussions, visit the Hopeful Economics website.

Hopeful Economics: Leadership & innovation Summit is for community economic developers, social entrepreneurs, municipal staff, community leaders, non-profit organizations, educators, businesses looking to enhance their community impact goals, community activists and change-makers of all kinds.

Places are limited. Register today at

Location: SFU Harbour Centre, 515 W. Hastings, Vancouver, B.C.
Dates: April 21 – 22, 2017 
Gala Opening (April 20): $25-$35
Tickets: $350

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