Tofino Mayor Josie Osborne is a guest speaker at the Hopeful Economics Summit running from April 21 to 22 at SFU's Vancouver campus.


Hopeful Economics Summit fosters sustainable local economies at SFU’s Vancouver campus

April 06, 2017

By Ian Bryce

Income inequality is growing in Canada. Housing costs are rising beyond the means of residents in Toronto and Vancouver, stable full-time work opportunities are decreasing, and higher education is moving further out of reach for many.

What can be done at the local level to address these challenges?

A new conference at Simon Fraser University’s Vancouver campus aims to foster sustainable local economies through social entrepreneurship and community-minded programming.

From April 21 to 22, SFU and the City of Vancouver will host Hopeful Economics: Leadership & Innovation Summit. The two-day conference features workshops and lectures with guests including Victoria Mayor, Lisa Helps, Tofino Mayor Josie Osborne, and Tsleil-Waututh Nation Councilor Charlene Aleck.

“People know what the problems are. The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer, and we’re stressing our ecosystems to the max to get these pretty shabby outcomes,” says Nicole Chaland, director, SFU Community Economic Development Program.

“At the same time, there are pockets of innovation and sustainability. This summit will shine a light on initiatives that create indigenous forms of wealth, place dignity at the centre of the economic experience, and address the root causes of inequality.”

Speakers at the summit will present on themes of economic reconciliation, social entrepreneurship, community benefit agreements, and local impact investing.

Hopeful Economics attendees will include leaders of First Nations, local governments, businesses, social entrepreneurs, policy-makers, educators, private-sector partners seeking to enhance their community impact goals, community activists, and change-makers.

Conference registrants are eligible to enter a social innovation challenge that includes more than $5,000 in funding, mentoring and other prizes to advance projects creating financial sustainability, positive social impact, or environmental-benefit.

On April 20, at a separately ticketed gala, Syrian guest Leman Kewan Hasano and co-op advocate and author. John Restakis, will give  presentations on the revolutionary co-operative democracy emerging in war-torn Rojava, Syria, where a new economy is emerging thanks to communities responding to challenges together.

For tickets and more information on both Hopeful Economics and the special lecture by Hasano and Restakis, visit