Supporting Collaboration and ‘Destiny Changing’ in Timiskaming

Every two years, HC Link works with local community organizations and groups to plan and co-host regional gatherings across the province that meet the needs of each region’s communities. Together with a local planning committee, we support the development of cross-sectoral and diverse community partnerships, providing opportunities to engage stakeholders across the region and create a community-building event.

The story before the story

After attending HC Link’s 2015 conference, a Best Start System Navigator in Timiskaming contacted HC Link about the inclusion of Indigenous perspectives at our future events. Over subsequent months, a number of conversations were held between HC Link and Timiskaming Best Start to discuss cultural competency. As result, the two organizations co-hosted two webinars on Francophone and Indigenous competency in 2016. During this time, when HC Link asked whether there was interest in working together to hold a community event in Timiskaming, the District of Timiskaming Social Services Administration Board and the City of Temiskaming Shoreseagerly came on board and agreed to jointly plan and host one of HC Link’s 2016/17 Regional Gatherings.

Community Hubs have been attracting political attention across the province as a way to improve access to a variety of “clustered” services. The South Temiskaming Community Hub Committee was formed to explore development of a model and strategy for a hub that would promote a vibrant and welcoming community and meet the needs of community and neighbouring residents regardless of age, cultural practices and backgrounds.

It was decided that this was a timely and important community issue, and so Changing our Destiny: Building a vision for all our communities was planned for January 11, 2017 in Haileybury to create a space for conversation about working together collaboratively to form community hubs in Timiskaming. The event was so named to reflect the desire to make decisions that affect Timiskaming in Timiskaming.

A collaborative and community-led planning approach

Planning and hosting the event was a real partnership between the three co-hosting organizations. Through numerous planning meetings over several months, the regional gathering in Timiskaming took shape. The event planning committee was made up of:

  • Dani Grenier-Ducharme, Tiffany Stow, and Melissa Boivin from the District of Timiskaming Social Services Administration Board;
  • Chris Oslund from the City of Temiskaming Shores
  • Dan Lavigne from Timiskaming First Nation;
  • Tina Sartoretto from the Town of Cobalt;
  • Sylvain Guilbeault from Timiskaming Child Care; and
  • Stephanie Massot and Andrea Bodkin from HC Link.

The Regional Gathering was truly a community-driven event. There was a strong sense of ownership of the event by local partners who led the planning, chaired the planning committee meetings and sought sponsorship from local businesses.

In addition, provincial involvement in the Regional Gathering included guests from Cochrane-Timiskaming service providers, speakers and participants from the Northern Policy Institute, including CEO Charles Cirtwill, and the Premier’s Special Advisor on Community Hubs, Karen Pitre.

Very focussed efforts were made by the local partners to identify who should attend the event and reach out and individually invite people. Committee members also worked with the local schools to get their participation. Through these tight local connections and word of mouth, 120 people registered for the event.

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Highlights from the event

  • Even through an unfortunate snowstorm that closed schools and made travel difficult, nearly 80 people attended the community event.

  • The regional gathering brought together community leaders and stakeholders from 15 different sectors to have an intercultural and multi-sectoral dialogue examining how the region can continue to build on existing collaborations. It enabled them to successfully network across sectors and share stories of achievements and challenges.

  • The event opened with a traditional smudge and pipe ceremony and closed with drumming and song. Elder Philip Snr Gliddy explained that these ceremonies show respect and help us start in a Good Way.

  • Speakers at the event were from the area and provided a Northern voice:

    • Keynote address from Charles Cirtwell from the Northern Policy Institute spoke about how the North already has community hubs; that people in the North have worked together in this way for hundreds of years.

    • Panel of local stakeholders shared how the community hub model is working in four different communities.

  • A Conversation Café discussion of how to work in partnership to support community wellbeing in Timiskaming. Designated tables were created for people interested in focussing on Francophone, Indigenous and youth issues.

  • While available resources did not allow for a bilingual program, a French “5 à 7” event was held the evening before to provide opportunity for Francophone discussion and networking.

“I have met people from organizations that I did not know existed.” - Regional Gathering participant

“The diverse perspectives and openness of the participants was significant for me.” - Regional Gathering participant


Key outcomes from the gathering

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  • Ongoing dialogue on how best to work together in improving overall well-being for all communities in Timiskaming, i.e. more intersectoral networking opportunities so people can gain a stronger sense of what other agencies and municipalities are doing.

  • Focus groups will be held to consult community members, including youth, to learn what community hubs could mean for them.

  • Social Planning Council is another option to explore to pursue the work from the Gathering.

  • The conversation café group who discussed Indigenous health committed to meet monthly after the gathering to continue their conversation!

Art work from the local high school’s Indigenous art class was graciously lent to the event

“Several people connected with me to start discussion about the potential partnerships we could forge.” - Regional Gathering participant


Related reading:

Event resources - slide decks, videos from the presentations and panel, and more are available at

Blog post from one of HC Link’s staff on the committee -

Article from the local paper -


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