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Four preeminent Atlantic Canadians have agreed to act as Conference Co-Chairs. Each brings unique insights into the issues impacting rural communities and potential solutions to jumpstart our rural economies.

Conference Co-Chairs are Wade MacLauchlan, West Covehead, PEI, President Emeritus of the University of Prince Edward; John Bragg, Collingwood, NS, founder of Oxford Fine Foods, the largest blueberry producer in the world; Gilles LePage, Caraquet, NB, Past CEO Mouvement des Caisses Populaires Acadiennes; and Donna Butt, Trinity, Newfoundland and Labrador, founder of Rising Tide Theatre.

In addition, Zita Cobb, founder of the Shorefast Foundation, will deliver a keynote address. Her foundation is remaking Fogo Island off the Northeast coast of Newfoundland. Stated principles of the Shorefast Foundation are:

“We believe in community and the inherent qualities and strengths and character of the people in a community.

We believe in the importance of roots and heritage and that looking at what has formed us in the past is essential to building a strong future.

We believe that there is a future for rural communities and that future is built on innovation, resilience, optimism and the ability to adapt.

And we believe the arts have a pivotal role to play in finding the path forward.”

“The success of this Conference begins with bringing together people and ideas from throughout the Atlantic region, in a lively and sustained dialogue, thanks to the initiative of Newspapers Atlantic” said Conference Co-Chair Wade MacLauchlan.  “Long-term success will come with a redefined outlook for vital rural communities, based on a strong sense of place and a commitment to confront our challenges and embrace opportunities.”

Speakers will be added on a regular basis. Check our website regularly for updates or follow us on Facebook or Twitter