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Our Future is Now! ONPHA Conference and AGM highlights

Our Future is Now: Conference highlights

On Wednesday, November 4, we welcomed nearly 1,000 attendees to our first-ever virtual Conference. We thank everyone who stepped into the future with us and helped to make this event a rousing success!  

With engaging panel discussions, inspiring keynote speakers, a virtual Trade Show, and a networking lounge, our virtual Conference platform provided attendees with an experience that was close to the feel of our in-person events. While ONPHA’s Board and staff sorely missed seeing everyone this year, we’re so grateful we were able to come together as a sector and get energized by the knowledge that we’re all working towards the same thing: a sustainable, successful community housing sector. 

Session highlights 

An image of a virtual theatre with screen, stage and people in theatre-style seating

What does housing look like in a post COVID world? 

This engaging discussion really helped to drive home the importance of community housing and its necessity for economic recovery in the short- and long-term. The panel discussed how the pandemic has laid bare the gaps in our system and inequities worldwide and were united in their belief that the key towards building a sustainable and successful community housing sector is the need for collaboration between all levels of government and across sectors. We look forward building on this conversation in the future. 

Disruption and Innovation – how to leverage opportunities to influence change in your organization

COVID-19 has presented more than its fair share of challenges, but with these challenges also comes opportunity. This inspiring and timely discussion explored how we can leverage what we’ve learned during the pandemic to bring about social innovation. The state of upheaval that organizations are experiencing can provide an opportunity to take stock, get rid of what isn’t working, and explore new ideas. 

Rental market trends and new opportunities for non-profit providers 

This fascinating discussion provided a primer on financialization within the housing sector, and explored how the community housing sector can intervene in the marketplace. With housing widely treated as an investment opportunity, a business-like approach to community housing (along with policy and regulation) can be an effective tool in combatting the erosion of affordable housing stock across the country. 


Our time is NOW – Equity and inclusion in community housing 

Keynote Speaker Orlando Bowen, Founder and Executive Director of One Voice One Team Youth Leadership, shared his deeply personal and inspiring journey, taking us from his youth growing up in Toronto Community Housing, to his beginnings as a community leader, to his career as a CFL player with the Toronto Argonauts and the unprovoked police assault that ended his football career. Emphasizing the necessity of racial justice and equality, and the importance of using your gifts to lift up others, Orlando’s message of unity, collaboration, and community is needed now more than ever. 

This IS your journey – Demonstrating leadership in times of disruption 

Closing Keynote Speaker Marnie McBean, O.C., OLY is an expert in leading during uncertain times; as chef de mission with Canada’s 2020 Olympic team, she knows a thing or two about it. Marnie shared with us her experiences as a top-level athlete and an Olympic and World Champion, and how she has learned that the unexpected is part of the journey. Her message of perseverance and excellence in everything you do resonates strongly with housing providers who serve their communities through the ups and downs that circumstances bring. 

Trade Show 

An image of ONPHA's virtual trade show, in a virtual exhibit hall

ONPHA’s Annual Trade Show entered the virtual world, and with great success! Our exhibitors were on hand at their virtual booths to connect and chat with attendees, who were treated to a format that simulated the look and feel of an in-person trade show, complete with a trivia contest. 


ONPHA Awards winners, congratulations!

Congratulations once again to our 2020 ONPHA Award winners!  The work our winners are doing to better their communities through hard work and innovation are an inspiration for the sector. This year’s winners are:

Award for Excellence 

Huron Women’s Shelter, Second Stage Housing and Counselling Services. Learn more about how they’re helping women and their children who have experienced violence and trauma re-emerge in their communities with confidence. 

ONPHA Innovation Award winner

City Housing Hamilton for Vanier Towers Community Service Hub. Hear about how they worked with residents and community partners to create a service program that is helping to heal their community. 

Sybil Frenette Outstanding Leadership Award 

Lori-Anne Gagne, Chief Executive Director at Victoria Park Community Homes. Learn about Lori-Anne’s incredible career in community housing and how her dedication and perseverance have made an indelible impact on the sector. 

Tenant Achievement Award winner 

Guy Clairoux, resident at Ottawa Community Housing. Hear how Guy’s leadership and concern for the well-being of others, along with his commitment and dedication has made his community a better place to live. 

ONPHA’s Annual General Meeting 

We held our first-ever virtual AGM on Thursday, November 5, and announced the results of our 2020 board election. 

We are excited to welcome to our board: 

  • Alain Cadieux, Ottawa Community Housing Corporation 
  • Jennifer Carriere, Castle Arms Non-Profit Seniors Apartment 
  • Eric Cohen, Ridgeford Charitable Foundation 
  • Ala’a Shadid,  Centretown Citizens Ottawa Corporation  

We look forward to working together to strengthen the association and advocating for a vital community housing sector. Click here to learn more about the ONPHA Board. 

We thank everyone who attended our 2020 Conference and Annual General Meeting. We hope to see everyone, in person, in Ottawa in 2021! Stay tuned to our weekly e-Alerts for updates. 

Looking for more learning opportunities? Check out our website for upcoming courses and online professional development sessions coming your way over the next few months.

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