Be inspired by stories of compassion, resilience and innovation!
Circles of Hope: Stories of compassion, resilience & innovation is an annual TED Talk style symposium focused around the social issues that all play a factor in family homelessness. Incorporating Indigenous ideas on storytelling, we come together and convey a vision of what we want the future to look like.
This is not just an event for people working within the homeless-serving sector but for anyone with an interest in social issues related to our city, province and country. Circles of Hope provides a safe, courageous space for celebration and contemplation, reconciliation and connection. It awakens within each of us our awareness and personal recognition of our power to create purposeful and meaningful conversations around ending child and family homelessness.
Meet our presenters
Storytellers, experts, innovators, artists and survivors!
International speaker, human rights activist, scholar, author and social entrepreneurLearn more
Samra is an International Speaker, TEDx Presenter, Human Right Activist, Scholar, Author. She is also the Founder of Brave Beginnings, an upcoming nonprofit organization focused on helping survivors build better lives after escaping oppression or abuse.
After arriving in Canada as a child bride in a forced marriage and escaping a decade of abuse, she pursued her education as a single mother and graduated as the top student at University of Toronto, winning over a dozen awards and scholarships. Today, she serves as the youngest alumni Governor for the University, while pursuing a rewarding career in commercial banking. Samra’s story and work have been features in several prominent media, including Toronto Life, CTV, CBC, Global News, Yahoo and many others, collectively reaching tens of millions of people worldwide. She is publishing a book on her life story with Harper Collins Canada, scheduled for release in early 2019.
We cannot wait to hear her!
Executive Director of Inn from the ColdLearn more
Abe Brown, MBA, is the Executive Director of Inn from the Cold. Abe has been working in the Homeless-Serving Sector in Calgary since 1999. Throughout his career he has overseen and ensured excellence in the delivery of programs and services provided to individuals experiencing homelessness. His passion is serving the most vulnerable in our communities with innovative and research-based practices that lead to empowerment and sustainability, and this led to his role as the Chair of the Calgary Recovery Services Task Force (CRSTF), a collaboration of over 25 leading Calgary Agencies focused on delivering better health outcomes for the most vulnerable Calgarians. CRSTF has received a mandate and funding from the province of Alberta to support better coordination of health service access and delivery for homeless Calgarians.
The focus of Abe’s talk will be ending homelessness for Alberta families, through a collaborative approach focused on innovation affordable housing, health care that serves their unique needs, and by incorporating preventative practices into Alberta’s System of Care to end the cycle of homelessness for families.
Elder, Dr. Reg Crowshoe
Respected Elder and former Chief at Piikani NationLearn more
Reg Crowshoe is a Blackfoot Cultural and Spiritual Advisor, and is the former Chief of the Piikani Nation. Reg and his late father, Joe Crowshoe, travelled extensively around the world bringing awareness and education about Blackfoot history, traditions and spirituality. In 1997, Reg developed the Blackfoot Framework for Decision-Making and Mediation Process called Akak’stiman, and presents it widely to Corporations, Government, Aboriginal organizations and the Non-Profit sector. Akak’stiman is a Blackfoot World View on dual paradigms; Western Thinking and Blackfoot Thinking, and how these paradigms can be integrated to best serve Aboriginal people. Reg sits on many Committees and Boards in Calgary, and commits his time to other provincial and national organizations. As the Board for Calgary 2012 concluded in March 2013, he ensured the Legacy Project for Calgary 2012 was the Making of Treaty 7 Project; a project that tells the important local history of Treaty 7. Beginning in 2011, he played an instrumental role as the Cultural and Spiritual Advisory for the University of Calgary’s (UofC) 2011 Solar House Decathlon project which was designed to respond to First Nations housing issues, and named the solar house Spo’pi. Spo’pi is now a permanent fixture on the UofC Campus for use in research and education. Reg provides advice to Treaty 7 Management Corporation, and leads a group of Treaty 7 Elders so that they can better be a support system to members in Treaty 7.
Manager of Research and Evaluation, CUPS CalgaryLearn more
Emily Wong grew up in Vancouver and moved to Calgary three years ago. She has
her BA and Masters of Public Administration in Policy Studies from Queen’s
University in Kingston, Ontario. Passionate about improving the lives of vulnerable
and marginalized populations, she has spent time working in research and policy
analysis for various non-profit organizations and think tanks in Kingston and Toronto.
As the Research and Evaluation Manager at CUPS, she continues to work behind
the scenes to apply and contribute to the research of early childhood brain
development and evaluate CUPS’ programs for improved effectiveness and
Walter MacDonald White Bear
Musical PerformerLearn more
Walter MacDonald White Bear is a Cree singer-songwriter originally from the First Nation of Moose Factory, Ontario. In addition, Walter is an educator, performer and motivational speaker. He has been performing acoustic and flute music for several years. Performance highlights include The Edmonton Folk Music Festival, The Chiefs Summit with Tom Jackson, The Dream Speakers Festival, The Mountain Song Native Theater, World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education and more.
Walter has been featured as a keynote speaker at various conferences with topics including Social Services, Justice, Education, Wellness and the Environment.
He’s music is a reflection of his personal journey as a First Nations person in Canada. He has shared his cultural knowledge with various audiences that range from correctional services to principals, teachers and students.
Dallas Arcand Jr.
Hoop Dancer and Aboriginal Entertainer Learn more
Dallas Arcand Jr. is an accomplished 20 year old second generation hoop dancer and aboriginal entertainer from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Starting from an early age, he’s been in front of crowds of up to 40,000 people at the Calgary Stampede Rodeo half time show with his father, 3 time World Champion, Dallas Arcand Sr. In 2010 he attended the Victoria School of the Performing Arts, there he learned valuable insight into music and performing. In 2012 he and his father performed at the London Olympics alongside the Canadian musician Corb Lund. Dallas Arcand Jr. is a self-taught musician, playing flute, guitar, piano and drums. He has translated those musical skills into music production and is currently working on several hip hop projects in Edmonton. His own solo CD is expected to hit the stores in the spring of 2018. In 2016 Dallas competed in the World Champion Hoop Dance Contest against his father in the adult category and placed 12th in the world. As well in 2017, Dallas co-wrote a song that was selected by Flo Rider’s production team for inclusion on Flo Rider’s new album. Unfortunately, it was cut at the last minute but it was very close. His show includes a cedar flute performance, A World Championship Hoop Dance, as well as an informative motivational speech to accompany the performance that depicts the philosophies and concepts of Native culture. The show utilizes a professionally mixed CD for Dallas to speak, play the flute, and dance to a traditional drum group.
Circles of Rhythm
Drumming CircleLearn more
Julien Lepage, Owner of Circles of Rhythm, Professional Integrative Drum Circle Facilitator (IDCF), and full time Registered Social Worker working in the field of Adult Addictions and Mental Health within the hospital system, describes his passion as ‘being of service’ and ‘helping people thrive not just survive’. With over 8 years supporting adults who experience life with a chronic and persistent mental illness or addiction, Julien has found a way to combine his passion as a professional musician and social worker within the public health care system. He has been the mobilizing force behind building a team of capable Integrated Drum Circles Facilitators within AHS, now known as ‘The Rhythm Project’. This project offers weekly community drum circles and ignites the spirit of its participants: staff, community, patients and their families’ – through music and rhythm! Lepage has been dedicating his gifts to lead and inspire innovation & collaboration within the health system – focusing on preventative health measures & research development in recidivism and social integration.
Founder and Executive Director, The DoorwayLearn more
Marilyn Dyck is a founder and current Executive Director of The Doorway. From a pilot experiment to a Community of Practice, she has invested 25 years of leadership in offering an innovative business planning option to engage long term street dependent young people in their self-determined choices to build personal economic independence and participation in mainstream economy and community. Marilyn has a B.A. in Sociology and has diligently pursued and implemented Applied Sociology in her work with young people. She is an active presenter, member and current International Board Member of the Association for Applied and Clinical Sociology (AACS).
VP and Chief Operations Officer, United Way of Calgary and AreaLearn more
Beth Gignac joined United Way of Calgary and Area in October 2016. With over 20 years of leadership experience, working across government organizations in both Alberta and Ontario, Beth is a high energy, collaborative leader with a passion for building strong, resilient communities. Throughout her career, Beth has been recognized as an “intrapreneur” and a catalyst for action. Prior to joining United Way, Beth enjoyed a career in municipal government. Beth’s passion for collaboration and strategic visioning make her an exceptional facilitator of change. Beth’s presentation will educate on the power of the hub and working as a collective community to accomplish one common goal.
Alexis Maledy and Louise Gallagher
Mother and DaughterLearn more
When Alexis Maledy was 11-years-old, her mother met a man who promised to give her the world. All he wanted in return was her unwavering love and commitment. As promise after promise failed to be fulfilled, Alexis and her younger sister began to distrust the man more and more until eventually, they would have nothing to do with him.
For almost five years, the two young girls watched helplessly as their once vibrant and loving mother disappeared before their eyes. With every passing day, she fell deeper and deeper under his spell into a tangled web of deceit until one day, she disappeared completely from their lives. Four months after she disappeared, the sisters received a phone call telling them their mother was alive. What followed next was a journey of healing through forgiveness, acceptance, and love.
They will share what is at the heart of their recovery and victory over the darkness that invaded their lives in that journey through abuse – a circle of love between a mother and daughter that can never be broken.
Advocate, Intake Coordinator and Addictions Counselor, Simon House Recovery Centre Learn more
Kerry is currently employed at Simon House Recovery Center as an addiction counselor. Having personally experienced abuse, trauma and the turmoil of the addiction Kerry now uses his story to assist those who are currently struggling. His story has been shared in media across the country and he has toured correctional facilities to inspire and motivate -having been an inmate himself.
Kerry has dedicated his life to offering support, meaning and purpose to those in recovery.
Author and Artistic Director, Movement With a MessageLearn more
Connie Jakab is the author of the book, Culture Rebel. Connie is passionate about rebelling against status quo living and encouraging others to branch out. Connie is the creator of The Courage Program as the Artistic Director of Movement With A Message, a movement company through which she imparts community, compassion and courage through school programs. She is also one of the owners of Village where she seeks to create a strong village for caregivers, teachers and children. She has produced five theatre shows based on social issues such as poverty, women’s vulnerabilities, youth resiliency, family breakdown, mental health, and addiction. . Connie drives her passion outward into the arms of those wanting something more radical and meaningful in life. She is an active speaker and lives with her husband and two boys in Calgary, Alberta
President and CEO of Calgary Homeless FoundationLearn more
Diana Krecsy joined the Calgary Homeless Foundation as President and CEO in May 2014. Diana has more than 30 years of leadership experience, spanning health services, non-profits and academia. Her current goal being motivating other organizations in Calgary’s Homeless-Serving System of Care to make action around a shared vision.
Diana has a breadth of experience in health services, academia, and not for profit, which help her lead Calgary Homeless Foundation and Calgary’s Homeless-Serving System of Care end homelessness in Calgary.
Dr. Katrina Milaney
Assistant Professor in Community Rehabilitation and Disability Studies, University of CalgaryLearn more
Dr. Katrina Milaney is an Assistant Professor in Community Rehabilitation and Disability Studies at the University of Calgary. She has an interdisciplinary academic background that includes sociological and gender-disability theory frames and has several years in community-based research. Her work history includes multiple positions in senior leadership in the not-for-profit sector and many administrative roles including an advisory committee on housing and homelessness to the Premier of Alberta. Correspondingly, her research track record was established in communities where she spent ten years on projects related to public policy development. Katrina is a qualitative researcher with a particular interest in participatory action designs and she uses critical theory frameworks to study social determinants of health including disability, homelessness, gender, culture, domestic violence, and mental health. Part of her critically driven research revolves around her interest in political and economic ideology and their impact on public systems and service delivery. Katrina currently serves as an Executive Steering Committee member for the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness.
Manager, Indigenous Programs, Inn from the ColdLearn more
Samantha is the Manager of Indigenous Programs at Inn from the Cold. Having overcome adversity, she has dedicated her life to individuals experiencing homelessness. Her current focus is helping Indigenous individuals understand and connect to their culture as a way to help them exit homelessness.
Musical GroupLearn more
Wendy Walker is Métis and Mi’kMaq First Nations originally from Winnipeg Manitoba. She is an accomplished singer/songwriter who has toured all parts of Canada, the US and Western Europe. She is working on her 3rd album which is to be released later on this year. As well as being a musician, Wendy was the writer, director and actor in a play called “How the West Was Met”. She was well prepared for that project since she studied at the Lee Strasbourg’s Actors Studio in London, England for a year. Wendy choreographed an Inuit 1-hour dance show representing Canada at International festivals. She was an Invited Artist at the Banff Centre for Performing Arts Creation residency 2 years in a row and she hosted the show “Profiles of Success” for APTN
Wendy created the first Aboriginal version of O Canada that played in some Canadian Embassies and on the CBC. That arrangement will soon be included in Reconciliation’s repertoire.
Dawn von Arnim is originally from Columbia, South Carolina, USA and she lived all over US and parts of Germany as a child. She has lived in Canada now for more than 13 years. Dawn is an in-demand Background vocalist (BG’s for you non-studio folks) for many CD projects since 2007 which h is how she met up with Wendy. The two ladies voices melded together so beautifully that the idea of singing together As Reconciliation was a obvious choice. When Dawn is not doing studio work or singing with Wendy, she’s the front singer for the rock band, Black Snake Moan.