In November 2023, the inaugural Canada FASD Conference was held in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. The theme of the conference was ‘Connect, Inspire, Innovate’. To embrace the theme of the conference, attendees were invited to provide feedback on large posterboards and via sticky notes, to share what had made them feel connected, inspired, or innovative during the week. Attendees were asked to reflect on three questions:
1. What new connections did you make this week?
2. What made you feel inspired this week?
3. What ideas did you find most innovative this week?
(Pictured: three poster boards from the 2023 Canada FASD Conference).
Conference attendees were asked to reflect on what new connections they made during the Canada FASD conference. Based on the feedback received, attendees seemed to value the opportunity to connect and meet new people from diverse geographical areas on a national and international scale. For instance, one individual wrote, “meeting folks from….New Zealand, Australia, and Eastern Canada.” Other attendees emphasized the connection of meeting new people who shared a common mindset. For example, one individuals wrote, “meeting amazing likeminded people from FASD community!”
Many also expressed valuing the in-person connection, as one individual stated, “finally! A face-to-face connection.” After many years of things being delivered through virtual platforms, conference attendees expressed their excitement about connecting with people in-person. For instance, one individual wrote, “I met people I’ve known online for the first time!”
(Pictured: Connect poster board from the 2023 Canada FASD Conference).
Conference attendees were also asked to reflect on what made them feel inspired during the conference. Not only were conference attendees inspired by meeting new people, but they were also inspired by the work being conducted across Canada and around the globe. For example, one attendee stated, “what has made me feel inspired is being part of a larger community that is changing the world.” Another individual stated, “all the work that is being done around Canada.”
In addition to feeling inspired by the work that is being done nationally and internationally, hearing individuals with FASD, caregivers, and service providers speak to their living experience was also found to be inspirational.” As one conference attendee wrote, “hearing the voices of adults and youth with FASD and their caregivers – so powerful!!” While hearing about the experiences of individuals with lived and living experience was inspiring to many, the support and advocacy people have for FASD was also described as another inspirational component of the Canada FASD Conference.
(Pictured: Inspire poster board from the 2023 Canada FASD Conference).
Lastly, conference attendees were asked to reflect on the ideas they found most innovative during their time at the conference. Based on the feedback received, attendees found that ideas for the development of new FASD specific programs and services to be the most innovative. For instance, one individual wrote, “what I found most innovative was learning about innovative and inspiring FASD programs!” Other attendees viewed specific program and service ideas, such as FASD-informed counselling and play therapy, new diagnostic approaches, and paternal support groups, to be the most innovative takeaway from the Canada FASD Conference.
(Pictured: Innovate poster board from the 2023 Canada FASD Conference).
While conference attendees were appreciative of the opportunity to connect with individuals from all over the world, many individuals expressed gratitude for the opportunity to connect and collaborate with people in-person. Many attendees were inspired by the research and projects that are being conducted in Canada and worldwide, and expressed excitement for the work that is to come.
Attendees also expressed their excitement for the continued opportunity to connect and collaborate with the people they met and interacted with during their time at the conference. With continued efforts to support and advocate, the strength of the FASD community was found to be inspirational. As the conference captured a sense of belonging for attendees, many are looking forward to maintaining connections made during the conference and working towards implementing innovative FASD-tailored approaches for the betterment of individuals with FASD, caregivers, and service providers.
The Canada FASD Conference will return in 2025. Sign up to the mailing list to stay up-to-date with the latest conference announcements.