COVID-19 and the Future of Democracy

2020, Democracy, Series Distant Not Disengaged

Democracy exists beyond the structures of government and voting. At a basic level, democracy is about bringing people together to shape the decisions that affect us all. Right now, individuals and groups are re-imagining our policies, our culture and how power works in our systems as well as our day-to-day lives. And we are seeing the longstanding efforts of community organizers and activists break through to the mainstream. The people are listening and making themselves heard. This is civic engagement in action.

In this installment of Distant, Not Disengaged, we explore what the pandemic is teaching us about how people are organizing, stepping up and creating lasting change. What is the recipe that turns advocacy efforts into wide-spread social movements? How will this shape the future of our democracy?

Come ready to discuss with other members of the audience what you hear from our special guests, what gets you engaged, and ways to stay engaged. Join us as we draw on a range of perspectives to explore the formula for effective organizing in this new era of civic participation. We'll hear from guests including specialists in community organizing, corporate activism, the arts, and youth-led movements.

This event is open to all, and we encourage anyone who has started or is taking part in a COVID-19 social movement to join us and share lessons from your work.

Thu, 24 Sep 2020

12:00 - 1:15 p.m. (PT)

Online Event

Distant, Not Disengaged

Distant, Not Disengaged was created as an experimental and innovative online event series to illuminate the urgent issues and opportunities arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. The series was a collaboration between SFU Public Square, the SFU Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue and community partner CityHive.

Watch the Series Recap


Sabreena Delhon is the inaugural Open Democracy Fellow, a role co-created by Open Democracy Project and Simon Fraser University’s Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue in partnership with Massey College. She is also the founder of Signal Strategies, an engagement firm committed to social change and innovation.


Sandeep Johal’s art practice is an expression of her social and cultural concerns, particularly gender justice. Sandeep is the 2019 recipient of Darpan Magazine’s Artistic Visionary Award, and she has worked with the Vancouver Art Gallery, Burrard Arts Foundation and Vancouver Mural Festival.

Walied Khogali has served as the President of the Toronto Environmental Alliance. He is a founding member of the transit advocacy organization TTC Riders and the co-founder of the Coalition Against White Supremacy and Islamophobia (CAWSI). He has also been a key part of the Canadian Arab Federation and One Toronto. His recent work supports at-risk youth and families across the Greater Toronto Area through the RamadanMealsTO project.

Clare Beckton is a former senior executive, entrepreneur, author, sought-after speaker, mentor and coach, and an advocate for advancing women's leadership and for diversity and inclusion.

Lilah Williamson is a 16-year-old high school student, climate activist and organizer with Sustainabiliteens and Climate Strike Canada.


Watch the Recording

In the News

Further Reading

Distant, Not Disengaged Final Report

Learn about the series’ impact on community connection and dialogue in this report featuring testimonials, media highlights, supporting resources and more.


Distant, Not Disengaged Events