Conference 2015

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The 2015 CALM Conference was an enormous success. Thank-you to everyone who made this happen.

The slides from this year’s workshop presenters can be found here. 

Below is a list of the speakers who presented this year.

Keynote speakers

Brenda Sayers (Thursday, June 18)

Descending from a long line of hereditary Chiefs, Brenda has strong ties to the land, is deeply rooted in cultural values and possesses inherent leadership skills.

Brenda has been involved in her First Nation by serving on committees and served one term on the Council of Hupacasath. Brenda also served as Director of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council and helped address the larger issues facing First Nations. Building bridges into the larger community, Brenda currently serves on the Crime Stoppers Board.  Brenda has had many experiences through her life adding to a wealth of experience including being an entrepreneur. She sat on the BC Transit board when appointed by the Premier for a 6-year term and went beyond her duties by touring mainland facilities and meeting the people on the front lines.

Brenda is the Hupacasath’s portfolio holder for the Canada China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA). She started this portfolio while serving on the Council of Hupacasath and continues working on it.

Brenda  was instrumental in the Hupacasath lawsuit against Canada for lack of consultation. She brought together many other groups so they could work collectively on the issue.  Brenda did the strategizing, communications, press releases, public awareness documents and videos, working with the legal team, public speaking engagements, fundraising and media interviews. In this presentation, Brenda will talk about this campaign and how they managed to successfully resist the FIPA.

Keynote Panel: Celebrating and analyzing our victories (Friday, June 19 at 2:00)

Larry Hubich, President, Saskatchewan Federation of Labour
Nancy Knickerbocker, British Columbia Teachers’ Federation
Gil McGowan, President, Alberta Federation of Labour

Kevin Millsip (Friday, June 19)

Kevin lives in Vancouver, BC and his work builds capacity for progressive social change in Canada. He is the co-founder and Director of Next Up, an intensive leadership program for young people committed to social and environmental justice. Next Up operates in 6 cities across Canada. He also works with Unions on how to engage with members and the public.

Kevin is a Dialogue Associate with SFU’s Centre for Dialogue, a Leadership Fellow with the Broadbent Institute and also serves on several board’s and advisory bodies including: The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, The David Suzuki Foundation, The Centre for Civic Governance, Theatre for Living, the Small Change Fund and The City of Vancouver.  

Kevin will talk about how to build a stronger left and how unions can use their communications tools to link their work into broader social movements organizing.

Workshop descriptions and presenter bios

David Climenhaga- Writing Headlines

David J. Climenhaga is an award-winning journalist, blogger, author, post-secondary teacher, and trade union communicator who has held senior writing and editing positions at the Globe and Mail and Calgary Herald. He has published the blog, also found on, since 2007. He holds a Masters Degree in Journalism from Carleton University. His 1995 book, A Poke in the Public Eye, explored relationships among Canadian journalists, public relations people and politicians. He was vice-president of Local 115A of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada during the 1999-2000 Calgary Herald strike. He was communications director of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees from 2000 to 2011 and is now communications advisor for the United Nurses of Alberta. 

Starting from the proposition that the news release is the basic unit of public relations in the post-news-gathering era, this seminar will define the nature and purpose of news releases, how they are an effective communications tool in online formats, explore how they are used and abused, discuss the basics of news release writing, provide some thoughts on how journalists and interested readers and viewers of news ought to respond to news leases, and explore recent trends in news release writing. The seminar is designed with unpaid volunteers for trade union locals in mind.

Nadene Rehnby- 10 tips for getting started with InDesign

Nadene Rehnby is graphic designer and copyeditor from Vancouver. A member of the Canadian Freelance Union (Unifor), Nadene has worked for 25 years with social justice, labour, and environmental organizations. Passionate about Indesign and skills sharing, Nadene is happy to chat with colleagues getting started, or check out her workshop during our conference.

This one-hour workshop will walk through the basics of getting started with Indesign. Laptops with Indesign pre-installed (download a free 30 day trial at ) are helpful, but not required. A good start for those making communications pieces (posters, newsletters, reports) in MS Word who would like to upgrade skills to Indesign. Leave with a basic overview, the best online sources for further learning, and an Indesign friend you can follow up with any time.

Jarrah Hodge- Social Media Engagement

Jarrah Hodge (@jarrahpenguin) is the communications officer at COPE 378, which represents nearly 14,000 public and private-sector office and professional workers, including employees at two of B.C.’s largest Crown corporations: BC Hydro and ICBC. She is also an award-winning feminist blogger at

In this course, you will cover strategies for using social media to engage your members and the public, and review best practices for handling different types of commenters.

Karen Tankard- Great messages and talking points

Karen is a communications officer with the BCGEU who spent two decades working as a reporter for CBC News in B.C. She teaches media interviewing and news writing in BCIT’s Broadcast Communications Department. Karen holds an MA from Simon Fraser University and a Graduate Certificate in Professional Communications Management from Royal Roads University.

Learn to craft the right messages for the right audience and delivered at the right time. This workshop will teach you how to develop a simple messaging plan, whether you’re communicating with your members, the general public or the news media. We’ll also cover how you can use social media (Twitter, Facebook and a WordPress blog) to deliver your messages.

Ian Boyko- Communications for Campaigns

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing more than 305,000 workers in almost every sector of the economy. Ian Boyko works in Metro Vancouver as one of seven Communications Representatives at Unifor. Before joining Unifor’s communications department, Ian was staff at the Canadian Federation of Students.

Successful campaigns require planning and collaboration. Part of any campaign plan should include how a coherent message will reach the desired audience to create change and build a movement. This workshop will review one method for developing a campaign communication strategy.

Lorene Oikawa- How to engage and inspire using film, social media, and a film festival

CLiFF (Canadian Labour International Film Festival) Director Lorene Oikawa will screen some short films from Canada’s labour film festival, and share how this free access to films could help engage union members. CLiFF also encourages film making. You can tell a story, reveal a truth, and inspire people to action. And anyone with a mobile phone can make a film. Learn how in this introduction to film making using your phone, and also some tips for sharing on social media.  

Lorene Oikawa speaks and writes about women in leadership, human rights, and social media. She is the president of the Greater Vancouver Japanese Canadian Citizens’ Association and on the board of the Canadian Labour International Film Festival. She was the first Asian Canadian Executive Vice President for the BCGEU.

Sam Bradd- Start a visual revolution: 16 visual techniques to connect with members and build stronger unions

It’s time for a visual revolution. This is a strategic workshop to help union communicators plan cutting-edge materials that are image-based, instead of text-based.  We’ll review more than 16 techniques, including infographics, memes, photo essays, and custom illustrations – tailored to help unions share information, reach young people, mobilize our base and connect with members we haven’t engaged yet. Visuals aren’t one size fits all. Bring your communication issue, including member orientation, data, understanding the collective agreement, education, diversity, or engagement –  and we’ll match it with the best visual approaches. 

Note: We will not be drawing or creating images. The session is aimed at communications staff who work with designers. You don’t need to be a designer, and designers are welcome. 

Sam Bradd’s work is Drawing Change: visuals that support progressive movements. He’s a graphic facilitator and illustrator, and is unionized with Unifor’s Freelance Union. 

As a graphic facilitator, Sam listens and draws to facilitate organizations in doing their best work – dialogue, strategic planning or engagement. His unique background combines 15 years’ of facilitation experience and a Master’s in Education from UBC. His clients include unions, government, Indigenous organizations, health authorities, universities, non-profits and select private sector clients including Google, Shaw and Lululemon. In the community, Sam draws historical non-fiction comics about labour history with the Graphic History Collective (new book coming in 2016), and was a 2013 and 2015 judge for the Canadian Association of Labour Media awards. He lives in unceded Coast Salish Territories. Contact him at or on twitter, @sambradd.

Leslie Dyson- Working with freelancers: a dream or a nightmare

As communication with members and the public becomes more complex with an unending list of add-ons, you may be relying more on freelancers. What can you do to ensure freelancers become part of a dream-communications team rather than adding to your stress and insomnia.


  • who owns the material
  • what to pay
  • where to find good people
  • when do you need a contract
  • why problems develop
  • how to protect yourself while respecting the work of freelancers

Come prepared to share your stories and insights.

Leslie Dyson, from Face 2 Face Communications and the B.C. rep for the Canadian Freelance Union, is a freelancer who also hires freelancers in her labour and social activist communications work as a writer, editor, designer, website developer, and project manager.

Dr. Janni Aragon

Dr. Janni Aragon is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science, with teaching experience at UVic since 2005 and prior to that she taught at San Diego State University, San Diego Mesa College, and the University of California Riverside. In 2013 she was the recipient of the Excellence in Teaching Award from the Faculty of Social Sciences. She currently serves as the Chair of the Senate Committee on Learning and Teaching and Chair of the Teaching, Learning, and Technology Committee.  She has extensive experience with integrating technology with pedagogy, in integrating social media and other digital tools in the face-to-face and virtual classroom.

She is an active member of the UVic Online Academic Community, and has been a popular presenter of lectures and workshops on the adoption and integration of educational technology at the Learning and Teaching Centre and off campus at middle and high schools, and to community groups. Dr. Aragon regularly blogs about pedagogy and other issues in higher education for Inside Higher Education, the Globe and Mail,, and many other venues and publications. In her role as Director of Technology Integrated Learning (TIL), she will work closely with staff, faculty, librarians, and students, and with academic and support units across the university. In this role she supports face to face, online, and flexible learning on campus. She has an active presence on Twitter with @janniaragon and the TIL twitter handle (@uvicedtech).

Social Media provides a great way to share your research. This presentation will  offer a primer of good practices for networking and sharing your research online. There are several social media platforms to use, such as, About.Me, Google Scholar, WordPress, LinkedIn, as well as Facebook Fan Pages.

Chris Lawson – Copy paste and post: the ups and downs of self-publishing websites

Aka content management systems. These wonder apps promise you the ability to publish your website for free without knowing a tag of code. Most find it’s rather more complicated than that. This workshop will look at what options might make sense for your union, focusing on three weirdly named applications: Joomla, Drupal and WordPress.

Chris Lawson – Numbers or it didn’t happen: measuring success on the internet

This workshop will focus on internet statistics (aka analytics) and how you can use them to see how well you’re doing with your email, your website and your social media. It will focus on Google analytics but spend some time on real-time statistics, social media monitoring and email statistics too. Settle arguments. Impress your friends. Crush your enemies.

Chris Lawson is a new media communications officer for the Public Service Alliance of Canada. He has been working in union communications since 1992 and launched his first national union website in 1997. Chris has been CALM’s president since 2011 and is often and non-ironically referred to as a “tech guru.”

Michael Stewart- Blogs that pop

In this workshop you will learn how to craft killer content and give it the best chance of reaching a wide audience beyond your regular networks. We will share best practices on how to create strong, message-focused blog posts; how to draft tight, descriptive headlines; and how to pair them with eye-catching images. We will look at a variety of social media best practices and strategies that will give your work the best chance to get seen and get shared. We will look at where you can hope to publish your blog outside of your usual venues and how to push content outside of your membership. We will try to avoid the word “viral” but some things are inevitable.

Michael Stewart is a freelance writer, editor and consultant based in Victoria, BC focused on B.C. politics, labour and culture. He is also the blogs and promotions coordinator at, Canada’s largest independent news publication, where he manages social media accounts with over 30,000 followers. He is a bad editor, a PhD dropout and a union thug. Follow him on Twitter @m_r_stewart.

Dave Cournoyer – How to be a political pundit

Dave Cournoyer is a union communicator and political blogger based in Edmonton, Alberta. Dave has worked for United Nurses of Alberta since 2009 and is the publisher of the Alberta politics blog, which he launched in 2005. Over the past ten years and during the recent provincial election, Dave has become a well-known political pundit, appearing on local and national news to comment on Alberta politics. In 2015, Dave was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Edmonton New Media Awards to mark his decade of political blogging in Alberta.

In this session, we will discuss the steps you can take to become a respected and reliable source of political commentary in your local and provincial media. Dave Cournoyer will share his experiences as a political blogger and commenter in Alberta over the past decade and in the recent provincial election.


Caucuses are informal open spaces for members to get together and share their ideas without having a panel or presenter start leading the discussion. Each caucus will be chaired by a member of the CALM executive and they happen simultaneously.

Social media exchange

Organizing to oust the Tories in 2015

Orange Wave in Alberta. Lessons learned

Communications for on-the-ground organizing

Annual General Meeting documents

The agenda and minutes from the 2014 AGM can be found at the bottom of this page. They were updated on June 8, 2015.