Margaret Atwood, Canadian poet and author known for The Handmaid’s Tale, will be the keynote speaker at the upcoming September online conference of the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM).
“We want someone that appeals to our delegates across Canada and that would truly deliver an engaging keynote,” said UBCM president and Sooke mayor Maja Tait. “She will be speaking on the themes of climate change, COVID and the community and we couldn’t be more excited. She’s a national treasure.”
Tait pointed out that many well-known speakers who wouldn’t normally be in their budget are now more affordable for events due to the pandemic.
This will be the first year the conference has been held virtually since its beginnings in 1905. Each year has seen physical gatherings through the 1918 Spanish flu and two world wars. According to Tait, although the event will look dramatically different, attendees will still be able to vote on resolutions, participate in workshops and engage in one-on-one meetings.
Premier John Horgan is expected to make an address to the conference attendees online.
As president-elect since September 2019, Tait says she’s been just as busy organizing the conference as she would be meeting people in person – a decent chunk of her time is saved by not travelling to destinations. Now, she’s takes meetings at her dining room table.
“It feels like the ground changes every single day. We know that we will miss meeting in person to network, but there’s still ways to engage with peers and make this a strong professional event.”
Tait and a small team of IT and staff support will be hosting the conference out of the Victoria Convention Centre, currently closed to the public. In addition, the price has been slightly reduced for attendees to accommodate the financial strain during the pandemic.
The virtual conference takes place Sept. 22 to 24. With over 500 delegates already registered, registration is available at access.ubcm.ca/registration until Sept. 11 at 4 p.m.