Community Speaker Series

The CDI's Community Speakers Series invites experts to talk on important and relevant topics for northern BC.  The Community Speakers Series consists of classroom lectures at UNBC, a public lecture in Prince George, and a public talk in another northern BC community.

In partnership with communities and funding agencies, the CDI has sponsored the following Community Speakers Series events.

Past Speaker Series

"13 Ways to Kill Your Community: What does success look like for our community?"

Speaker: Doug Griffiths, MBA
Date: November 15, 2017
Time: 7:00 - 8:30 pm
Place: Lido Theatre - 10156 100 Avenue - Fort St. John, BC

Are we doing things that could undermine our opportunity for success? How do our own attitudes and actions shape the success or failure of Fort St. John and other rural communities in the north?

Join Doug for an inspiring, educational, entertaining, no-nonsense approach to community and personal development.

Doug Griffiths, BEd, MBA is a community builder, motivator, and best-selling author of 13 Ways to Kill Your Community. After a successful 13 years in Alberta provincial politics, Doug stepped away in 2015 to get back to what he really loved—helping build better communities.

"Who Benefits from a Boom? Regional development and the uneasy politics of natural resource extraction 'fair shares".

Speaker: Neil Argent, Professor - School of Behavioural, Cognitive Social Sciences, University of New England

Tuesday, June 6, 2017 at 7:00pm in Room M202, 9820 120 Ave, Fort St. John

"Community Development and the Arts"

Spring 2017

Speaker: Genevieve Bucher, President, BC Artscape
Thursday, April 20, 2017 at 7:00pm in Multipurpose Room at UNBC Northwest Campus

"Legacies and Possibilities: How Community and Economic Change are Shaping the Housing Landscape"

Fall 2016

Speaker: Dr. Greg Halseth, Professor -Geography, and CDI Co-Director, UNBC
Thursday, November 17 at 7:00pm in room 6-205/211 at UNBC

This speaker series is in conjunction with the Northern BC Housing Conference on November 17-18, 2016. For more information, visit the conference website

Finding the Rhythm in Your Community

Spring 2016

In many communities, the arts and culture sector plays a key role in building economic diversification. Events such as music festivals and concerts, theatre performances, art exhibits, and cultural attractions draw people who, in addition to purchasing tickets, will spend money on meals, hotels, and shopping.

The arts and culture sector is evolving and the creative sector is emerging as a new economic engine. Noting that many of the millennial generation are and will work in the creative sector, Marleen Morris, Co-Director of the Community Development Institute (CDI) at the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC), believes that we should take action to build on the opportunities in this sector.

The CDI is supporting the dialogue about arts and culture as a community and economic driver by inviting people to attend Finding the Rhythm in Your Community. The event will feature guest speaker Teresa MacQuarrie, retired Vancouver Island University professor, choral director, and community music organizer. Marleen Morris will act as Session Moderator for the panel respondents.

Our guests will share their thoughts and experience on how culture, particularly music, contributes to the economy and quality of life in our communities. A question and answer session will follow. Live music by Raghu Lokanathan will be featured. Refreshments will be provided.

The event will be held on Thursday, April 7, from 7:00pm to 8:30pm at the Prince George Public Library (Bob Harkins branch). Two Livestream gatherings will be hosted at the same time at the UNBC Prince Rupert Campus, Room 188, 353 5th Street in Prince Rupert, and the Cariboo Regional District Board Room office, 180 3rd Avenue N in Williams Lake.

Finding the Rhythm in Your Community is part of the CDI’s Community Speakers Series. The Community Speakers Series invites experts to address topics that are relevant and timely in northern BC. Community Speaker Series talks are held in the spring and fall and are free of charge.

Women in Leadership: Man, They’re Good!

Fall 2015

When it comes to women’s leadership, northern BC can stand up and be counted.

Supporting leadership development for women is a key investment that will help build community capacity and increase the ability of communities to respond to future opportunities.

Noting that about one-third of northern mayors are women, and that women lead a number of key organizations, including Northern Health Authority and Northern Development Initiative Trust, Marleen Morris, Co-Director of the Community Development Institute (CDI) believes that we should take action to build on these successes.

Supporting leadership development for women is a key investment that will help build community capacity and increase the ability of communities to respond to future opportunities.

In conjunction with the first annual Inspiring Women Among Us event, the CDI is supporting the continuing dialogue about women in leadership by inviting the community to attend ‘Women in Leadership: Man, They’re Good!’ The event will feature:

  • Honourable Shirley Bond, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training.
  • Stephanie Killam, former Mayor of Mackenzie.
  • Jillian Merrick, Prince George City Councillor.
  • Shauna Harper, local entrepreneur.

In conversation with Marleen Morris, the guests will share their experiences in leadership roles in both government and non-government sectors. The discussion will focus on the changing perception of women in leadership, leadership challenges that they have encountered, and their advice for  women to thinking about taking on leadership roles in their community. A question and answer session will follow. Refreshments will be provided.

The Free Speaker Series event will be held in Prince George:

Monday, November 23: UNBC Room 6-205 (across from the Canfor Theatre and next to the bus loop entrance), 3:00-5:00 pm.

Building a Revitalized Future: The Role of Community Leadership and Vision

Spring 2015

This presentation will discuss the importance of community leadership, and the power of a community vision, in building and sustaining vibrant and livable communities.  Our speaker, Lori Ackerman, Mayor of the City of Fort St. John, will draw on her experience working to revitalize Fort St. John’s downtown core, and the development of the community’s Downtown Action Plan.  Mayor Ackerman will speak to effective ways to engage a variety of stakeholders, including community residents, business owners, local government employees, and elected officials. Her talk will address ways to draw on community strengths and maintain interest and participation in the process of revitalization over time. Finally, Mayor Ackerman will also discuss the different components of an effective revitalization plan, and how to manage challenges and opportunities encountered.

The Free Speaker Series event will be held in Prince George: April 15, 2015
Prince George Public Library, Bob Harkins Branch (Keith Gordon Room), 7:00-8:30pm

Thank you to our sponsor, the Prince George Public Library.

Speaker: Lori Ackerman, Mayor of the City of Fort St. John

Mayor Ackerman has lived in the Peace Region for over 30 years and has been Mayor of Fort St. John since 2011. She has been appointed to a number of boards, and from 2002-2013 was the Executive Director of Sci-Tech North, a non-profit organization that supported entrepreneurs and innovators in the Northeast. She serves as the Vice Chair of the BC Regional Science and Technology network, and as a member of the Economic Development Association of BC.

Keeping the BC Interior Forest Industry Strong

Fall 2014

This presentation will discuss the state of the BC forest industry, with particular focus on the Interior. Our speaker, James Gorman, will examine the relevance of the industry to British Columbia's economy, and discuss some of the important changes being experienced in the industry today. His talk will address work being done to overcome timber supply challenges, industry actions to grow new markets for BC’s forest products, new technologies being developed, challenges faced, and what can be done to improve the competitiveness of the industry. Finally, Mr. Gorman will touch on what forest dependent communities should expect in the coming years.

Free Speaker Series events will be held in two locations:

  • November 12, 2014: Cariboo Recreation Complex, Williams Lake, 7-8.30pm
  • November 13, 2014: Prince George Public Library (Bob Harkins Branch), Prince George, 7-8.30pm

Thank you to our sponsors, the Cariboo Regional District and the Prince George Public Library.

Speaker: James Gorman, President and CEO of the Council of Forest Industries

Mr. Gorman is the President and CEO of the Council of Forest Industries, which works in support of the BC interior forest industry. The organization liaises with governments, communities, organizations and individuals to promote policy, trade, and development of the forestry sector in BC. He has held this role since September of 2013. Mr. Gorman is also the President of the BC Lumber Trade Council, which represents the interests of the BC forest industry in negotiating the Softwood Lumber Agreement with the United States. Prior to joining the forest industry, he worked for the provincial government, most recently as Deputy Minister for Advanced Education. Mr. Gorman holds an MA from McGill University.

Reimagining your Community: Examples from British Columbia, Scandinavia, and the UK

Fall 2013

Communities and industry across the north are being challenged to adapt and innovate to respond to change. Some of the changes are driven by transformation and demand in the global economy. Others are driven by changes within our own communities, such as an ageing population. This presentation will examine how communities can adapt and transform so that they are more resilient and have more sustainable economies. Our speakers, Greg Halseth and Marleen Morris, will draw upon examples from BC, Scandinavia, and the United Kingdom to provide inspiration and a framework for moving forward.

Speakers: Greg Halseth and Marleen Morris

Greg Halseth and Marleen Morris are Co-Directors at the Community Development Institute at UNBC. Greg is a Professor of Geography at UNBC and is the Canada Research Chair for Rural and Small Town Studies. Marleen has held executive, senior management and board positions in the health, housing, and education sectors, and was the President of Marleen Morris & Associates.

The talks will take place: 

November 13 in Valemount at the Community Hall
November 14 in McBride at the Robson Valley Community Centre
Talks are held from 7:00-8:30 p.m. 

Thanks to our co-sponsors: the Village of Valemount and the Village of McBride.

Housing in a Changing Community: Opportunity for Innovation

Spring 2013

This presentation will examine the state of housing and community infrastructure and explore opportunities and options for creative and innovative development and redevelopment. Our speaker, Gwyn Symmons, will focus on some the development challenges facing communities and how they may respond to change. Gwyn will also review how land use planning can assist in strengthening the economy including supporting small business and economic development.  

Speaker: Gwyn Symmons

Gwyn Symmons is the founder of CitySpaces Consulting, one of Canada’s most innovative design and planning firms. His career has included work in communities throughout British Columbia, Ontario, and the United Kingdom. A land use planner by training, Gwyn is a member of the Canadian Institute of Planners and the Planning Institute of BC.

The talks will take place: 

May 7 in Mackenzie at the Recreation Centre
May 8 in Prince George at the Prince George Public Library, Bob Harkins Branch

Talks are held from 7:00-8:30 p.m.

Thanks to our co-sponsors: BC Housing, District of Mackenzie, City of Prince George, and Prince George Public Library.

Research Supporting Regional Collaboration: The Case of the Columbia Basin RDI

Fall 2012

Speaker: Dr. Terri MacDonald

Regional Innovation Chair, Rural Economic Development, Columbia Basin Rural Development Institute, Selkirk College, Castlegar, will give a presentation on “The Columbia Basin Rural Development Institute:  Building Regional Capacity through Research & Innovation”.

Community Speakers Series Spring 2012

Spring 2012

A Panel Presentation will explore how resource-dependent communities and regions can build the foundations of sustainable prosperity by taking a comprehensive and integrated approach to community and economic development. The Panel Speakers will explore opportunities, decisions, strategies, and policies that can foster positive long-term positive outcomes.

The Social Aspects of Rapid Economic Growth

Fall 2011

Speaker: Dr. Glen Schmidt

Dr. Glen Schmidt of UNBC’s School of Social Work gave a presentation on "The Social Aspects of Rapid Economic Growth" in Prince George and Mackenzie.

This presentation was simultaneously broadcasted through Elluminate to participants around northern BC and the Yukon. It was saved in a format that is able to be posted and viewed on the Internet.

Collaboration in Regional Economic Development: Why Should We Bother?

Spring 2011

Speaker: Marleen Morris

Marleen Morris is the CDI's Spring 2011 Community Speaker's Series speaker.  Marleen will talk in Hazelton and Prince George on the benefits and outcomes of regional collaboration and the factors that can help communities work together to achieve synergies and lasting economic change.

Collaboration in Preserving First Nations Archives in Northern BC Communities

Fall 2010

Speaker: Ramona Rose

Ramona Rose, Head, Archives & Special Collections, the Northern B.C. Archives and Special Collections at the Geoffrey R. Weller Library, UNBC, gave a presentation on "Collaboration in Preserving First Nations Archives in Northern BC" in Prince George and Williams Lake.

This presentation was simultaneously broadcasted through Elluminate to our UNBC campus in Terrace and was saved in a format that is able to be posted and viewed on the Internet.

Boom or Bust: Northern Communities Must Have Social Infrastructure

Spring 2010

Speaker: Dr. Dawn Hemingway

Dr. Dawn Hemingway, Chair of Social Work at UNBC, gave a presentation on "Boom or Bust: Northern Communities Must Have Social Infrastructure" in Prince George and Fort St. John.

Developing a New North as a Knowledge-Based Resource Economy Connected to the World 

Fall 2009

Speaker: Time McEwan

Tim McEwan, President & Chief Executive Officer of Initiatives Prince George Development Corporation, gave a presentation on "Building BC’s ‘New North’ as a Knowledge-based Resource Economy Connected to the World" in Prince George, Vancouver and Prince Rupert.

Building Together: Community-UNBC Research Partnerships

Spring 2009

Speaker: Dr. Gail Fondahl

Dr. Gail Fondahl, UNBC's Vice President, Research, gave a presentation on “Building together - Community/UNBC research partnerships” in Prince George, Terrace and Kitimat.

Forestry – a dying profession or an opportunity for rebirth?

Fall 2008

Speaker: Dr. Kathy Lewis

Dr. Kathy Lewis, Chair of Ecosystem Science and Management at UNBC, gave a presentation on “Forestry – a dying profession or an opportunity for rebirth?” in Prince George and McBride.

Lessons from the development of Northeast Coal

Spring 2008

Speaker: Mr. Graham Kedgley

Mr. Graham Kedgley, British Columbia's former Coal Coordinator and Executive Director of the Northwest Corridor Development Corporation, spoke in Prince George and Smithers on his experiences as British Columbia's Coal Coordinator and lessons that may be applicable to mining development in Northern BC.

Mr. Kedgley's talk has been published through the CDI Publication Series.

Embracing Population Change in Northern BC: Health Services as a Foundation for Community Development

Fall 2007

Speaker: Dr. Neil Hanlon

Dr. Neil Hanlon from UNBC’s Geography Program spoke on the linkages between population aging and the changing nature of health and care services.

The Importance of Rural Development

Spring 2007

Speaker: Blair Lekstrom

Blair Lekstrom, MLA for Peace River South and the Parliamentary Secretary for Rural Development spoke in Prince George and Burns Lake about The Importance of Rural Development. Notes from Mr. Lekstrom’s talk are not available.

British Columbia Construction Association

Fall 2006

Speaker: Manley McLachlan

Manley McLachlan of the BC Construction Association spoke in Prince George and Fort St. John on international, national, and provincial trends impacting labour in the BC construction industry in BC.

The Rubber Tire Market: An Exploration of the Nature and Size of a Rapidly Growing Market

Spring 2006

Speaker: Anne Hardy

Anne Hardy from UNBC’s Resource Recreation and Tourism Program spoke in Prince George and on the Queen Charlotte Islands about understanding the drive tourism market in British Columbia.

Making Research Count: Applying Research to Support Community Tourism Development

Fall 2005

Speaker: Richard Porges

Tourism BC's Director of Research Richard Porges spoke in Prince George and Williams Lake.

Cows in the City and Other Rural Development Strategies

Spring 2005

Speaker: Sean Markey

SFU researcher Sean Markey spoke in Prince George, Terrace, and Kitimat.


If your community would like to co-host our next Community Speakers Series event, please contact: Marleen Morris at or phone (250) 960-5952.