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Welcome to Building Empathy Conquering Apathy (BECA) 2018, convened by Canadians For A Civil Society.

This is our third annual gathering to explore and strengthen common cause and common ground to bolster human dignity and shared values within our communities.

In 2018 we are Building Empathy and Conquering Apathy in addressing the mental health and emotional well-being of some of the most vulnerable among us: Refugees, Seniors, Youth and Adolescents, and Indigenous Canadians.

We invite everyone’s participation to address this theme, in a setting that is collaborative, collegial, and designed to encourage learning from one another.

On May 14th, Canadians For A Civil Society are pleased to cordially invite you to a reception at the City Hall on the evening from 5:00 PM to 6:30 PM before the symposium opens on May 15th. The event will take place in the main foyer. This reception will bring together community leaders in an intimate gathering to share ideas. We hope we will have the honour to have you join us.

On May 15th, the symposium will take place at MacEwan University, Robbins Health Learning Centre from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM, and will address the mental health and emotional well-being of the most vulnerable aforementioned, and where you are also cordially invited.


1. To learn from those affected by mental health issues, the caregivers, and the professionals.

2. To facilitate dialogue, networking and understanding of the intersections between the impact of mental health issues.

3. To encourage innovation and collaboration by facilitating the flow of information between NGOs, decision-makers, and volunteers.

4. To raise awareness of public and build community capacity to better respond to mental health issues and their impact.

5. To build momentum for deeper collaboration for the current and the future generations by creating awareness and educating communities by openly discussing and accepting mental illness as a significant issue in our province and our country.


1. Mental Health issues are not only global issues. Canadian citizens experience substantial impact, such as loss of life due to mental health issues:

· Research shows that mental illness is the most important risk for suicide.¹

· More than 90% of people who commit suicide have a mental or addictive disorder. Depression the most common illness leading to suicide with a rate of 60%. ²

· Suicide typically is a result of the interaction of many factors, for example: mental illness, marital breakdown, financial hardship, deteriorating physical health, a major loss, or a lack of social support. ³

· In Canada, 77-110 profoundly affected people will become newly bereaved by suicide.4

· Males were 3 times more likely to die by suicide than females, and females are 3-4 times more likely to attempt to end their lives. In addition, women are hospitalized 1.5 times more often than males for suicide related behaviors.5

· Although suicide deaths affect almost all age groups, those aged 40 to 59 had the highest rates.6

2. There a significant economic impact in Canada due to a lack of treatment of mental health issues:

· No workplace can avoid mental illness.7

· Almost 6 million people or 1 in 5 Canadians are likely to experience a mental illness in their lifetime, 8 making mental illness the largest untreated epidemic facing the Canadian workforce.9 It is the prime working years that register many people with mental illness.10

· Early intervention and treatment can certainly avoid unnecessary expenses for organizations in the cost of sick leave, absenteeism, average wage replacement, etc. 11

· The business world is particularly fierce, making employees not seek treatment by fear to be stigmatized and seen as the weakest link, hence, lose their career. Moreover, because of lack of information about mental illness in general, and the fear of liability, management chooses not to tackle the theme. 12

¹ x/2012001/article/11696-eng.htm
² x/2012001/article/11696-eng.htm
³ x/2012001/article/11696-eng.htm
6 x/2012001/article/11696-eng.htm
7 economic-impacts
8 Canadian Mental Health Association, PEI Division. (2008). Quick Facts. 295-1559&lang=1
9 Wilson, M., Joffe, R., & Wilkerson, B. (2002). The unheralded business crisis in Canada: Depression at work.
Toronto: Global Business and Economic Roundtable on Addiction and Mental Health.
10 Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario. (2008). Mental health facts: Why workplace mental health
11 Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario. (2008). Mental health facts: Why workplace mental health
12 economic-impacts



Edmonton City Hall
1 Sir Winston Churchill Square
Edmonton, AB

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Robbins Health Learning Centre
11050-104 Ave NW
Edmonton, AB

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Message From CCS’s President

Jim Gurnett

I saw a quote recently that impressed me. “Where there’s empathy, there’s always a solution,” it said. And it is that perspective that even in the most difficult situations, there is always one possibility for action that I believe is at the heart of Canadians for a Civil Society presenting the BECA symposium, for the third year.

This view of life is especially relevant to this year’s focus on mental health. Too often this has been a topic we have avoided, not wanting to notice the huge price we all pay for this approach. At this symposium, we will have the chance to learn from experienced people and professionals who have practical teachings for us so we can all be better advocates for communities where we are proud to show our commitment to mental health, and to good services for those who face challenges to their mental health. I am especially glad we will hear from Wendy Edey, the Hope Lady, whose work with the intentional use of hope has inspired and educated me personally.

“Surviving to Thriving” is a focus that gives energy to the task of together working for a better world. Welcome to BECA 2018. I hope you will be challenged and energized by the symposium, meet new allies, and leave more committed to join with others in creating homes, workplaces, communities, and streets where we demonstrate empathy and work for solutions.

And, with my Canadians for Civil Society hat on, let me also remind of another of our community activities, the Daughters Day celebration that promotes gender equity. Nominations are now open for this year’s Daughters of the Year. Information is at the CCS table here at the symposium.

Message from Alberta’s Premier

Hon. Rachel Notley

Message from Edmonton’s Mayor


Dr. Eric & Elexis Schloss

Mr. Bob Philp