Events

Think Big: How can we use “Big Data”?

The Families in Canada Conference 2019, hosted by the Vanier Institute of the Family, will bring together experts who study, serve and support Canadian families for meaningful discussions and knowledge-sharing to increase the overall wellbeing of families.

The theme for this two-day conference, beginning March 27, is Think Big: How can we use “Big Data” to inform and inspire big ideas to optimize family well-being in Canada?

“The purpose with respect to the theme is that as we look at the landscape of the family journey and how this country studies, serves and supports families, an emerging trend across all sectors and across society has been the emergence of ‘Big Data’, digital strategy, artificial intelligence and a whole host of technologies and innovations that has made data more accessible and more available,” said Col. (ret’d) Russell Mann, Senior Advisor at the Vanier Institute.

The idea is with data so much more accessible it’s become much easier to analyze data and in turn better understand the needs of families. The conference will look at how “Big Data” can be used to create a positive impact in serving families. The theme will be weaved into the entire conference. From starting a family to raising children to caregiving, this year’s theme will be weaved into the entire life journey of a family. The keynote address will also address how Big Data can be used to serve Canadian families.

There are more than 40 speakers part of the lineup, all who either study, serve or support Canadian families in some way and can speak to their journeys and experiences. Each of the panels will somehow touch on this year’s theme.

The Vanier Institute also made it a point to include the narrative of the Canadian military family in the conference.

“There’s so much understanding and insight that military families bring and how to cope and grow as they weave together their life journey with the military journey. So, we think by incorporating military family in the dialogue a number of attendees will learn from them and their experiences,” explained Mann.

The event will include a performance from the Canadian Military Wives Choir- Uplands Branch who will be singing a number of compositions that speak to the military wives experience on the evening of the 27th.

“We think it will be an excellent way for families themselves to demonstrate the strength of their stories in a first-person voice [to those who study, serve and support families] because the members of the Wives Choir are living the dream of the military lifestyle with its up and downs and challenges but also with those wonderful experiences,” noted Mann.

There are also a number of presenters who study or are connected with the military and veteran community including Shelley MacDermid, Professor and Director Military Family Research Institute Purdue University; Nicola Fear, Director and Professor of Epidemiology King’s Centre for Military Health Research King’s College London; and David Albright, Office for Military Families and Veterans, University of Alabama.

LCol. Suzanne Bailey, Senior Social Work Officer for the Canadian Armed Forces and foremost leader of the Road to Mental Readiness program will also be speaking at the conference.
The goal of the conference is not just to discuss families and share knowledge but to go on to take concrete steps. After the conference, the Vanier Institute plans on launching a network of family resources in Canada; intends to create a family well-being index, and create social policy monitor to keep an eye on the development of policies and programs.

“As we bring together researchers to study families in Canada we want to monitor programs and policies that result from that research,” said Mann.

The first Families in Canada Conference was held in the 1960s with the launch of the Vanier Institute by then Governor General George Vanier. It was not held again until nearly 50 years later in 2015. This year’s conference is only the third ever Families in Canada Conference.

“What Vanier wanted to do was bring people together one more time not with the intent of an annual conference but to catalyst the launch a number of projects that will follow the conference and really to bookend some of the conversations and initiatives after the Families in Canada Conference in 2015,” said Mann.

The National Families in Canada Conference will be held March 27 and 28 at the Infinity Convention Centre in Gloucester, ON. To register click here.

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MIshall Rehman

Originally from Atlanta, GA, Mishall is a freelance journalist pursuing her passion for writing in her new homeland Canada. She currently lives in Trenton, ON with her husband.

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