Social R&D: A National Practice Gathering

Join us at our second annual gathering to connect the Canadian Social R&D field.

  • March 30 - 31, 2021
  • 8AM - 12:30PM PST • 11AM - 3:30PM EST
  • Online

Do you use innovative social research practices to better understand and address social issues?

Do you draw on experimental approaches like prototyping, human-centered design, social labs, data measurement, or ethnography in order to solve complex social challenges?

Do you want to share with and learn from other Social R&D practitioners?


This year’s national convening will focus around the question:

“How can we leverage social research & development to build a more inclusive economy; one that is regenerative, and centred on empathy?” 

We will explore how we are practicing equity and shifting power in communities to foster social change. 

The content will take place in both English and French, with live translation provided in plenary sessions.

Over two half-day sessions, we will:

  • Connect as a community of Social R&D practitioners to learn from and with each other
  • Explore how we as a field are adapting our practices to respond to this changing time
  • Discover and apply new methodologies to our social impact work
  • Develop awareness of how to address equity in social R&D practice
  • Continue to build a national narrative around the social R&D field

Our time together will involve storytelling, music and movement, as well as opportunities to meet others in the space and bring forward your own reflections, questions, ideas, and contributions to this field.


Our Co-Hosts


JEROME MORGAN | Lead Strategist and Innovation Consultant, Wood Buffalo Strategy Group

Jerome Morgan specializes in strategy, human-centred design, organizational development and facilitation. He helps leaders get to better solutions using design thinking and community innovation that is centered on empathy. Selected as a 2018 social innovator and changemaker, Jerome is a champion for equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) and leads work around BIPOC, low income and rural communities.

ANNELIES TJEBBES | Social Innovation Consultant, Roots and Rivers

Annelies Tjebbes is a systems change leader with a background in social innovation, community development, and social enterprise. She provides comprehensive strategic planning, evaluation and facilitation services through her consultancy Roots & Rivers. Annelies is an Innoweave Evaluation & Impact Coach and brings evidence-based decision-making and reflective practices to all of her work.

Day One – Tuesday March 30

11:00am: Grounding & Opening
11:10am: Small Group Coffee Chats
11:20am: Keynote: George Aye, Greater Good Studio
12:00pm: Storytelling Breakout Sessions with Omar Goodgame & Marqez Ramsay (Success with Age and Guidance – SWAG), Soni Dasmohapatra (Edmonton’s Social Innovation Eco-Systems), Corina Kwami, Fié Neo, Orode Faka, So Jung Rim (SIX Global), Dusty LeGrande (mobilize waskawewin), Raymond Currie & Grace Schedler (Circles for Reconciliation), and Nargess Mustapha (Hoodstock) 
12:50pm: Plenary Shareback
1:00pm: Music break with Xhalida September
Regroup and recap of the morning
Open space
3:00pm: Closing

Day Two – Wednesday March 31

11:00am: Welcome
11:10am: Movement opening with Ravyn Wngz
11:30am: Small Group Coffee Chats
11:45am: Peer Input Process
12:45pm: Plenary sharing
1:00pm: Music break with Kristina Lao
1:30pm: Storytelling Breakout Sessions with Aggie Paulauskaite, Aimee Gasparetto, Denise Soueidan-O’Leary, Maude Lapointe, Wissam Yassine, Keren Tang (Participatory Canada), Austin Lui (Eastside Works), Deanna Matthews (Teach For Canada), Anna Naylor & Inda Intiar (Students on Ice Foundation), Louise Adongo (Inspiring Communities), and Nadia Duguay & Will Prosper (Exeko) 
2:30pm: Closing
3:00pm: Post-Gathering Mixer!

(times indicated are in EDT)

Our Keynote Speaker

George AyeGEORGE AYE | Founder, Greater Good Studio

George co-founded Greater Good Studio to use design to heal, to be just, to be restorative. Previously, he spent seven years at global innovation firm IDEO before being hired as the first human-centered designer at the Chicago Transit Authority. Since founding Greater Good he guides clients and teams through complex projects that honour reality, creates ownership and builds power. He speaks frequently across the US and internationally.

Our Musician


Xhalida September is a talented entertainer and passionate upcoming artist emerging from the heart of the Unceded Territories of the Musqueam, Tseil- Waututh and Squamish (Vancouver, British Columbia ). Xhalida enjoys emerging passions for singing, songwriting, dance, linguistics, ethnobotany and photography. Through her soulful voice, lyrics and music composition she wants to bring you on a journey, to a place of love, healing and self-affirmation.

Our Storytellers

Success with Age and Guidance – SWAG


Marqez Ramsay is the co-founder of Success with Age and Guidance (SWAG), a youth -led mentorship initiative that has supported racialized and Black young men for the last decade. Through the development of SWAG, Marqez and his team have successfully received provincial and Federal funding to support at scale multiple communities within Peel region. Marqez is graduate of Ryerson and York University where he received a Honours Degree in Child and Youth Care before going on to complete a full Masters of Social Work. His career journey ranges from leading teams to working as a Capacity builder with a Provincial granting body, investing in youth led work across Ontario. In his spare time he enjoys cooking, spending time with the family and running for therapeutic relief. “The pandemic has taught me to lean into the things that give me energy.”


Omar Goodgame is one of the co-founders of the Success With Age and Guidance (S.W.A.G.) Program. Omar is currently working as a Youth Engagement Coordinator with EveryMind Mental Health Services the Lead Agency for child and youth mental health services within Peel Region (Mississauga, Brampton, Caledon). Omar has 10 plus years experience of dynamic community work within the Peel Region. He has worked within multiple sectors such as education, community development and community mental health.

Omar holds a Social Service Worker Diploma from Humber College, an Honours Bachelors of Social Work Degree from York University and is currently studying an MBA at the University of Fredericton. Omar is passionate about youth engagement and positive youth development. He believes that youth are the future and with the right support, meaningful opportunities and positive adult relationships youth can blossom into their full potential.

Edmonton’s Social Innovation Eco-Systems


Soni Dasmohapatra is a consultant who works with individuals, groups, public service institutions and community agencies to facilitate the development of tools that focus on building inclusive platforms that incorporate strategy, design, wellness and art for transformative change. Soni Dasmohapatra has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Alberta and her Masters in Public Administration from the University of Victoria. She has a certificate in gender studies and human rights from Oxford University, UK. In Edmonton she has worked with the Government of Alberta, is a core team member at the Edmonton ShiftLab 1.0, was grants coordinator at the Edmonton Heritage Council, and is currently a management consultant.

Soni is keen to map Alberta’s ecosystems to find, contribute and create spaces of social innovation.

Circles for Reconciliation


Grace Schedler, a member of God’s Lake Narrows ininiw (Cree) Nation,  is the Indigenous Ambassador for Circles for Reconciliation since July 2020. She recently retired from the Manitoba government where she worked for twenty years in the Indigenous Court Work Program.  She assisted Indigenous people to recognize their rights and obligations  and to understand how the justice system functions. She also  led the successful negotiations to have the Eagle Feather accepted in the courts to support Indigenous people in their testimonies before the court. Grace is also on the board of the Indigenous languages of Manitoba and offers a course on line in introductory Cree. 


Raymond Currie has been a member of the sociology department at the University of Manitoba since 1973, and was Dean of Arts  (1991-99). He also was Executive Director of the Canadian Research Data Network (2002-2010), a network of 27 universities across Canada where over 3,000 researchers analyse  all of Statistics Canada’s data on health, social and economic issues.  He received an Honorary Doctorate of Laws (LL.D.) from McMaster University in 2012. Following the release of the TRC Final Report in December 2016, he co-founded  Circles for Reconciliation and is its Project Coordinator. He and his wife, Charlene, are adoptive parents to two Indigenous children, now in their forties.

mobilize waskawewin


Owner and Creative Director of mobilize waskawewin. He is a father and artist who dreams of future full of inclusivity, fluidity and evolved communities.


Corina is a Renaissance woman whose mission is to bring together the arts and sciences and celebrate innovations on and off stage. On stage as a speaker, singer or tap dancer, she has performed in countries across the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia with her band ‘Corina Kwami & the Swing Selection,’ as a TEDx speaker in the innovation lab space and collaborates in the jazz, tap and swing circuit. Offstage, she holds a doctorate in engineering and is a speaker, strategist and advisor on future cities, infrastructure and sustainability. Her work cuts across the arts and sciences, music and dance in order to facilitate exchanges between these worlds. Her work cuts across the arts and sciences, music and dance in order to facilitate exchanges between these worlds. You can see her face on a screen on the Discovery Channel and Science Channel talking about the lessons learned from infrastructure in cities across the globe. She lives in London.

Fié is an interdisciplinary artist who makes socially engaged works through participatory practice, wearable art and film. She creates participatory interventions in public spaces to change the dynamics of social exchanges. She also designs for theatre and films in costume and set. In 2017, she set up INSEP (International Network for Socially Engaged Practitioners) which brings together people around the world in the field of socially engaged practices to connect and share learning. Fié has performed and shown her works at Royal Albert Hall, Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2017, London Design Festival 2016, Gillman Barracks and others. She also hosts a podcast called Onions Talk on hope and changemaking.

Orode is a community artist, theatre maker and writer. Director of R.O.C.K.S!, an interdisciplinary artist collective committed to using their crafts to spark new ideas and innovate proactive and sustainable actions in the practice of arts for social change. With over 10 years experience in arts in education, Orode is passionate about bringing creativity, innovation and enjoyment in learning and used this approach to work in a diverse range of mainstream and alternative education settings and community groups.


Nargess Mustapha est militante antiraciste et féministe. Elle s’implique depuis plus de 10 ans dans son quartier : Montréal-Nord, plus précisément depuis la mort de Fredy Villanueva – jeune homme assassinée par la police de Montréal le 9 août 2008 – et la révolte populaire qui s’en est suivie. Elle cofonde le collectif Montréal-Nord Républik ainsi que Hoodstock avec d’autres militant.e.s. Nargess a depuis pris part à plusieurs mobilisations dans les 12 dernières années afin de sensibiliser sur les réalités et les enjeux de son quartier ainsi que sur  «l’intervention policière» ayant pris la vie de Fredy. Elle poursuit aujourd’hui une maîtrise en sociologie à l’Université du Québec à Montréal et son engagement au sein de Hoodstock à Montréal-Nord.

Day Two Opener

Ravyn Wngz “The Black Widow of Burlesque” is a Tanzanian, Bermudian, Mohawk, 2Spirit, Queer Movement storyteller of Trans experience.  She is a Transcendent Abolitionist, and Renaissance Artivist. Her work is rooted in Black liberation and Indigenous Resurgence.

Our Musician

Kristina Lao is an artist-advocate from Hong Kong. In her ten-years in entertainment, she has toured nationally, hosted and performed at local and international festivals, collaborated with award-winning producers and appeared in numerous network TV shows. Her music is inspired by Paul Simon, Tracy Chapman and Joni Mitchell, and she has performed at iconic venues including The Troubadour (London), Ronnie Scott’s and The Bedford (London). Her debut album is being recorded this year. She is also currently on the Board of Directors for Music BC and a consultant for career pathways in entertainment, with a passion for elevating underrepresented voices. Headshot by Lung Liu Photography

Our Storytellers

Students on Ice Foundation

Anna Naylor is the Halifax-based program manager for Blue Futures Pathways, a project led by the Students on Ice Foundation. Anna has a passion for ocean education and increasing the awareness of opportunities for youth within the Ocean Sector, evident in her previous work as Manager of Learning Programs with the Centre for Ocean Ventures and Entrepreneurship


Inda is the program outreach coordinator for the Blue Futures Pathways project, working alongside Anna to engage youth in the Sustainable Blue Economy. Born in Indonesia, Inda grew up across many countries before coming to Canada as an international student. She now calls Moncton, N.B., home. A former business journalist, and award-winning community leader, Inda’s heart has always been in storytelling, sustainable development, and building bridges between peoples.


Will Prosper est documentariste et militant pour les droits civiques. Ancien policier de la GRC, Il a cofondé un mouvement citoyen contre la brutalité policière et les oppressions économiques nommé Montréal-Nord Républik. Il est également co-fondateur du Forum social Hoodstock, un espace de dialogue et d’innovation sociale pour la co-création de milieux urbains plus inclusifs, sécuritaires et dynamiques. Au fil des années, il a contribué à des institutions importantes de la société civile québécoise, tels que la Commission populaire sur la répression politique, la Ligue des droits et libertés, la Coalition pour l’égalité et contre le racisme systémique, et le collectif Faut qu’on se parle. Il écrit et intervient régulièrement dans les médias sur les enjeux de justice sociale et de droits de la personne.

Nadia Duguay est co-fondatrice d’Exeko – organisme utilisant la créativité artistique et intellectuelle au service d’une transformation sociale inclusive et émancipatrice. De 2006 à fin 2018 elle en assure la codirection puis, entame un fellowship auprès de Community Knowledge Exchange (CKX). Elle s’y consacre jusqu’en avril 2021 afin de questionner les tensions, convergences et complémentarités des pratiques de transformations sociales et culturelles. Elle s’intéresse notamment aux pratiques de R&D sociales inclusives, de médiations culturelles et intellectuelles et d’innovation sociale ancrées dans une perspective de justice sociale et de désencombrement des esprits.

Teach For Canada


Deanna Matthews is the Impact and Learning Manager at Teach For Canada. As Anishinaabekwe mixed settler, Deanna is a member of Sachigo Lake First Nation in northern Ontario and grew up exploring the Rockies from Amiskwacîwâskahikan (Edmonton, AB). Her passion for equitable education and social policy stems from her work running Mikinakoos (Little Turtle) Children’s Fund in coordination with the Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority. Prior to joining Teach For Canada, Deanna worked as a Policy Analyst in the Privy Council Office, and within Health Canada’s Climate Change and Health Adaptation Program. Often having her feet ‘in two different canoes’ – one eager to advance Indigenous policy in Canada, and another striving to center Indigenous methodologies and experiences in research and practice – Deanna brings an interdisciplinary perspective to her work with Impact and Learning.

Eastside Works

Austin is the programming and partnership director at EMBERS Eastside Works, a low-barrier employment hub in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver. He has been involved since the inception of this pilot program, since 2018, and has been integral to the development and operations of Eastside Works. Completing his Masters in Community and Regional Planning at UBC, his interests include community and economic development, social innovation, housing, and mental health. He has over 10 years of experience working in the non-profit sector, with over 8 of those years working directly with marginalized populations. As a consultant, Austin specializes in strategic planning, evaluation, facilitation, economic development, and graphic design.

Inspiring Communities

Louise Adongo is an avid reader, traveller and gardener with multi-disciplinary interests with graduate degrees in Plant Biochemistry and Applied Health Services Research.

She has a solid understanding of the roles different sectors play in contributing to sustainable,resilient and vibrant communities with particular desire to support people and communities to collaboratively for better socio-economic outcomes. Louise has volunteered as a Board member at the Health Association of African Canadians, with the Halifax Local Immigrant Partnership (HLIP) and as a co-founder and Board Secretary for the Freetown Initiative.

Participatory Canada


Aggie is supporting the ground teams in each city as the Cities Programmes Tutor. She’s had the opportunity to join the original Barking & Dagenham team in London since the beginning building Participatory City’s vision of Every One Every Day. The project is always evolving, adaptive, exciting and spontaneous; you can never get bored. She has not only seen it grow and develop in London but also in the 3 cities in Canada.

Born in Lithuania, Aggie spent her childhood immersed in the culture that has gifted her with the love for nature and humanity. She graduated from Fashion Business and progressed towards humanitarian roles. She is very interested in sustainability and circular economy. She has worked with people with learning and physical disabilities before starting at Every One Every Day.


Aimee Gasparetto has over fifteen years of experience developing community-based initiatives that promote health, challenge inequalities, and strengthen local economies. A primary focus of this work has been supporting regional and sustainable food system development with approaches that are grounded in community, collaboration and social innovation. In her co-lead role for a seven year provincial food initiative for Nova Scotia, Aimee worked on strategic policy and program initiatives aimed at creating a more just and sustainable food system in NS, including the establishment of the Halifax Food Policy Alliance and Halifax’s first Mobile Food Market. Currently, Aimee works as the Program Director for Every One Every Day Kjipuktuk at the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre in Halifax. This pilot initiative, inspired by the work of Participatory City in East London, UK, is working alongside Halifax’s Urban Indigenous Community and local residents, to explore the development of a support platform that centres reconciliation and invites meaningful and inclusive participation of everyone. It aims to manifest a vision in neighbourhoods and communities where residents are supported to co-create and bring to life the places and interactions that can transform how we live together and support one another to thrive.


Denise is a Sr Program Manager of Community Strategy at The Centre for Social Innovation and leading the Our Neighbourhood project with Every One Every Day TO, one of three Participatory Canada cities. She has been involved as an advocate, support person, program developer, board member and social entrepreneur for the last 10 years. After working directly with a group of youth with developmental barriers in supportive treatment homes, she Recognized the need for supportive employment opportunities. In response,  She  purchased The Lansdowne Cone,  and has built a purpose driven social enterprise providing inclusive employment opportunities for youth with multiple barriers to employment.  She is active in community, focusing on unlocking community governance and efficacy, and building community wealth solutions at the ground level.  In her space time, you can find her baking, cooking, or canning thousands of pounds of tomatoes, and various other fresh produce!  


Keren is the Participatory City Development Manager with the McConnell Foundation, working with local and national partners to envision, test, and build the social infrastructures for our times and generations to come.  She merges her background in public health, community development, human-centred design, and the social determinants of health, and is a firm believer in the power of peer-to-peer, neighbour-to-neighbour networks.  She is passionate about working with the ethnocultural communities in civic engagement and health promotion. She currently serves on the board of the Edmonton Community Foundation and ASSIST Community Services (for newcomers). She is a Top 40 Under 40 alumnus in Edmonton and is running for City Council again this fall. Beyond her community involvement, Keren is an avid skier and loves spending time with her family in the mountains.


Maude is co-leading the Notre voisinage prototype in the borough of Ahuntsic-Cartierville in Montreal with her colleague Wissam at Solon collectif. Diplômée en géographie et en relations humaines de l’Université Concordia, Maude oeuvre dans la gestion de projets communautaires depuis plus de douze ans. Elle a pu développer ses connaissances en participation citoyenne lors de son mandat comme agente de projet pour Katimavik et ensuite au Réseau des femmes en environnement, où elle a accompagné des organismes québécois dans la gestion responsable de leurs évènements.

C’est dans l’équipe de Prévention à la Société canadienne du cancer que Maude a approfondi son goût pour l’accompagnement de projets participatifs en collaborant, entre autre, au déploiement du Trottibus dans les écoles primaires du Québec.

En participant à la mise en oeuvre de projets citoyens, Maude souhaite contribuer au bien-être collectif et être un modèle pour ses enfants.


Titulaire d’un Master en économie et également en innovation et prospective. Wissam a décidé de suivre son cœur. Il a débuté sa carrière dans la production musicale, où il fut le directeur de la maison de disque indépendante beyrouthine Forward Music. Wissam a par la suite occupé plusieurs postes en innovation et impact social. En 2018, il créé le Fonds pour les artistes de la relève et de la diversité (FARD), qui vise à soutenir la création et la production de projets des artistes de la relève et de la diversité à revenus modestes. À la recherche continue du sens, il rejoint l’équipe Solon pour vivre et explorer la force transformatrice du collectif.   

Wissam co-leads Notre voisinage with Maude.

The Social R&D: A National Practice Gathering is a partnership between Social Innovation Canada, the McConnell Foundation, and Innoweave as part of the federal government (ESDC’s) Investment Readiness Program. We also gratefully acknowledge the support of the Suncor Energy Foundation and ESDC in making this conference possible.

On June 16-17, 2020, Social Innovation Canada hosted a virtual Social R&D: A National Practice Gathering to address the following questions:

  • How are Canadian social innovators addressing complex challenges in this changing time?
  • How can social R&D tools and practices strengthen their efforts?


At this time of systems disruption and reinvention, strengthening our capacities to better solve problems has never been more needed. 

Curious what we learned? Take a look at these reports from this two-day gathering:

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