Impact Report: 2022/23

Message by Outgoing Executive Director

I thought I was familiar with the Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue’s (the Centre) work when I took on the interim Executive Director role early last year. But these past 16 months have enabled me to “lift up the hood” and see what really goes on. 

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I can state without hyperbole that the work done by the multi-talented staff at the Centre is truly remarkable in both relevance and consequence, spanning virtually every pressing issue of our time—climate change, inclusion, urban renewal, reconciliation, youth engagement, cyber-security, wildfire management, social isolation, and making our institutions and processes more equitable and accessible, especially for those among us historically left outside looking in. The Centre uses the power of dialogue to bring people together to address these critical issues in ways that make a difference.

My “look under the hood” also reminded me that behind all these successful dialogues is an impactful blend of content knowledge, facilitation expertise and sophisticated process designs. Bringing people together in ways that reduce polarization and defensiveness, while increasing understanding and perspective, is both an art and a science. I’m struck by just how well the staff at the Centre can bring people together in ways that build connections and strengthen relationships across diverse communities. This impact report outlines the consequential work the staff at the Centre accomplished from April 2022 to March 2023. At the risk of extending the metaphor too far, the Centre is firing on all cylinders!

Laurie Anderson
Interim Executive Director to August 30, 2023
Executive Director, SFU Vancouver
Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Education

Message by Incoming Executive Director

When I think of impact, my mind goes immediately to these lines by poet Wallace Stevens, inspired by Picasso’s painting The Old Guitarist:

The man bent over his guitar,
A shearsman of sorts. The day was green.

They said, “You have a blue guitar,
You do not play things as they are.”

The man replied, “Things as they are
Are changed upon the blue guitar.”

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I love the idea, and it seems to me to be so true, that change happens primarily through the instrument of change, shaped by its colours, sounds and internal qualities. The team at the Centre is a distinctive instrument and the pages that follow describe the impact left on our region, our province, our country and the world, by this specific combination of colours, sounds and internal qualities.

I send my heartfelt congratulations and thanks to each member of the team, every collaborator, partner, co-conspirer and every person in the constellation within and around SFU, who values and promotes the ways of dialogue. Special gratitude to Dr. Laurie Anderson, who stepped in as interim executive director in April 2022, and found himself, 16 months later, finally able to step back. The wide range, ambitious scope and transformative depth of what the Centre has been able to achieve in the past year is a tribute to all of you and your leadership.

I am of course looking forward to trying my hand at leading this incredible work, tuning up the instrument, sharpening some of the notes and getting on with playing both familiar and new melodies.

With the highest hopes for the most fruitful of collaborations.

Aftab Erfan 
Executive Director

The SFU Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue respectfully acknowledges the unceded, traditional territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish) and səl̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations, on which the SFU Vancouver campus and Wosk Centre building are located. 

Our staff and students are encouraged to learn, reflect and engage in activities on an ongoing basis that honour the experiences of Indigenous peoples in Canada. Learn more about our commitment to decolonization and reconciliation as well as the work of Centre Fellows to advance decolonization and reconciliation. To find out more about the land you are on and the First Nations communities around you, check out Native Land Digital, the First Peoples' Map of B.C. and many more resources through the Vancouver Heritage Foundation website

"It's like learning through each other and building through each other's thoughts. Ultimately, an enriching way to meet new people, build character and learn how to communicate effectively. The power of dialogue is so strong, because when I go out into the community now I feel like I can express myself better because of the skills I've learned during the Semester in Dialogue."

Jan Vinoya
Semester in Dialogue Alum and 2023 Sylvester Family Award Recipient

Upholding Truth and Reconciliation

  • Decolonizing the Shoreline Webinar
  • Advancing Education on Climate Action with an Indigenous Perspective at SFU
  • Indigenous Diabetes National Action Plan

Advancing Equity, Accessibility and Inclusion in Dialogue

  • 2023 Staff Achievement Award in Diversity and Inclusion
  • 2023 YWCA Women of Distinction Award
  • Semester in Dialogue Alumni Launch Rerooting Relationships
  • Facilitating The eQuality Project at the university of ottawa
  • City of Vancouver Social Planning

Enriching the Student Experience Through Community-engaged Learning

  • Semester in Trust, Money and Power: Funding Change
  • Learning Tools of Dialogue at CAMP
  • Helping Young Professionals Prepare for a Thriving Future Career
  • Dialogue Fellow Diane Finegood Honoured for Dedication to Experiential Learning
  • Engaging Students in Vision for SFU's What's Next
  • Engaging Racialized Youth About Black Diversity and Belonging in B.C.
  • Engaging High School Students in the Ethics of Climate Adaptation

Transforming Democratic Innovation and Participation

  • Announcing Two New Fellows: Jonathan Coté and Amina Yasin
  • Exploring Alternatives to Public Hearings for Housing Approval Processes
  • Launching the Renovate the Public Hearaing Initiative

Making a Difference for B.C. and Canada Through Dialogue

  • Facing the Flames: New and Old Ways of Co-existing with Fire
  • Launching the Mitigating Wildfire Initiative
  • Zero-Emission Building Retrofit Task Force Recommendations for Burnaby
  • Engaging Students and Faculty in Dialogue for SFU Medical School
  • Convening for Moving in a Livable Region
  • Learning from teh Pandemic
  • Renewable Cities Convening Dialogues for Local and National Solutions
  • Hey Neighbour Collective Building Social Connection and Resilience in Multi-Unit Housing

Co-creating Solutions to Global Challenges

  • SFU’s First Formal Delegation for COP27
  • Informing a Framework for Diabetes in Canada
  • Interdisciplinary Approaches to Climate Solutions, Circularity and Community Engagement
  • Inspiring the University of Aberystwyth Dialogue Centre in Wales
  • Action on Climate Team Nature-based Solutions Planning and Implementation
  • Clean Energy Canadaa Catalyzing the Transition to a Clean Economy
  • Exploring New Diplomatic Processes at the United Nations with Paul Meyer

"Participating in the Moving in a Livable Region (MLR) Initiative has been of great value for public health. This collaboration has served as an incubator of ideas for improving the transit of people and goods across our region. The ability of the MLR organizers to convene a diverse group of stakeholders—including researchers, policy makers, businesspeople and representatives from various government and non-profit sectors--is commendable. Discussions at this table focus on possibilities and solutions, and MLR is an important forum in advancing policies that promote the health and well-being of residents in Metropolitan Vancouver."

Juan Solorzano
Executive Director of Population Health, Vancouver Coastal Health

SFU Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue extends our gratitude to the generous foundation, corporate and government supporters whose annual contributions of $1,000+ allow us to facilitate transformative conversation and create real-world impact for society’s most pressing challenges. The list below acknowledges contributions in support of the Centre between March 2022 and April 2023.

  • Aberystwyth University
  • BC Hydro
  • BioTalent Canada
  • Bruce and Lis Welch Community Endowment
  • Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
  • Catherine Donnelly Foundation
  • Centre for Dialogue Endowment
  • City of Burnaby
  • City of New Westminster
  • City of Vancouver
  • Clean Economy Fund
  • ClimateWorks Foundation
  • Echo Foundation
  • Employment and Social Development Canada
  • Environment and Climate Change Canada
  • Forestry Innovation Investment
  • French Embassy in Canada
  • Hollyburn Community Services Society
  • Houssian Foundation
  • Ivey Foundation
  • Jack P. Blaney Endowment Fund
  • LandlordBC
  • Lawson Foundation
  • McConnell Foundation
  • Metro Vancouver
  • M.H. Brigham Foundation
  • North Family Foundation
  • Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions
  • Province of British Columbia
  • Real Estate Foundation of BC
  • Royal Bank of Canada Future Launch
  • SFU Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue Staff Award for Promising Future Dialogue Practitioners
  • Sylvester Family Award
  • Sitka Foundation
  • Tamarack Institute
  • Translink
  • Trottier Family Foundation
  • United Way British Columbia
  • Vancity
  • Vancouver Coastal Health
  • Vancouver Foundation
  • Yosef Wosk Family Endowment

Please contact Stephanie Shack, Senior Associate Director of Development at if you would like to discuss funding opportunities at the Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue.