Our first conference, Pathways to Resilience: An International Conference, was also held in Halifax, June 15th through 17th, 2005.
It was a unique gathering, representing a change in focus for scholars, policy-makers, and on-the-ground service providers. The presentations brought to the forefront the importance of context in children’s lives and the understanding that resilience can have many different meanings. There was an overwhelming sense of purpose throughout the conference, to move beyond the conventional to infuse resilience research, theory, and practice with this new perspective. It was this enthusiasm and renewed drive to create change that participants voiced as what they were taking away from the conference.
Another highlight was the positive response received from conference delegates regarding the keynote and invited speakers. Cindy Blackstock, a member of the Gitksan Nation and the Executive Director of the Caring for First Nations Children Society in British Columbia, moved the crowd to tears with her presentation on how to address the structural barriers associated with First Nations child maltreatment. Conference delegates spoke of the immense impact of Dr. James Garbarino’s presentation on the impact of violence and trauma in the family, the community, and on child and youth development. Hamilton and Laurie McCubbin’s keynote address was also met with great enthusiasm. Finally, Zahava Solomon’s talk on stress, coping, protective factors, and resilience across the lifespan provided a uniting bridge to the conference proceedings of the previous three days.