“It feels like home to get together with like-minded people”: Canada FASD Conference

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Canada FASD Conference audience

Reflecting on the Canada FASD Conference 2023, one of our biggest successes was the inclusion of people with lived experience. This was shown through the unique program that had someone with lived experience speaking in every single session on the program. Additionally, it was demonstrated through our Conference Travel Award program. 

The Canada Northwest FASD Partnership provided financial subsidies to support individuals with FASD, lived experience with FASD, and caregivers attend the conference. The Canada FASD Conference aims to bring our community together to address FASD at a national level. Providing this financial assistance helped support people from a range of social and economic backgrounds to attend. 

Judy Pakozdy was a Travel Award recipient and had an amazing time attending. Read on to find out more about her experience – including connecting with old friends, networking with new people and a chaotic travel experience! 

Why did you come to the Canada FASD Conference? 

I came because I’ve been working or involved with people living with FASD for 50 years. I particularly wanted to see if we had begun to regain some of the progress we had lost during COVID. Finally, I wanted to see a lot of my long-time friends. 

How did this award help you attend the conference? 

This award paid for my travel which was exorbitant given I never left Canada! Thank you so much. It’s getting more and more difficult to manage on my pensions. 

What made you feel connected? 

I felt connected from the get-go because I’ve been going to FASD conferences, mostly in Canada forever. It feels like home to get together with like-minded people who know how important this work is for our kids. 

What inspired you? 

What inspired me was the age range and the diversity of all the participants. It wasn’t full of ‘professionals’ but those that were there cared and wanted to learn more. 

What did you think was most innovative? 

Most innovative was the mocktail get together that was just like a real cocktail party! The food was AMAZING! And the opportunities to network too!  

What were you most looking forward to? 

I was looking forward to meeting friends, new parents and their kids and talking about what’s changed for them. 

What did you find unique about this conference? 

There seemed to be more front-line workers and parents there. 

What was your experience of travelling to Saskatoon? 

My luggage arrived a day late and we missed the Whitehorse connection by five minutes in Vancouver, but, and I quote, because I looked old and frail! The three of us travelling to Whitehorse received free hotel rooms, vouchers for meals and taxis. We were booked on the next flight to Whitehorse which was also very late. We survived and that’s what counts! 

Thanks so much for everything. Keep up the good work and hopefully the next 50 years will be better for our kids. 

Judy and her son, Matthew Pakozdy, created a poster with reminders for parents, caregivers and people with FASD that they shared with attendees they met at the conference. Download a copy to learn about their advice. 

Thank you to Judy for sharing her experience with us! We certainly look forward to welcoming her back to the Canada FASD Conference in 2025.  

Enjoyed reading about Judy’s time at the conference? Sign up to join the 2025 interest list and receive updates on next year’s Canada FASD Conference. 

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