Skillful Engagement Series

Engaging Across Differences with Natasha Aruliah and Suzanne Hawkes

Getting the right people ‘to the table’ through effective, truly inclusive stakeholder engagement is one of the biggest challenges facing planners, policy-makers and organizational change-makers today. Without a diversity of perspectives, shaped by people with different experiences and backgrounds, engagement efforts are far less likely to lead to innovative, durable or even relevant solutions.

But the most important stakeholders in a democratic engagement effort are often the most difficult to reach. How can we reduce or eliminate barriers to participation, particularly when those barriers connect to differences such as language, race, immigration status, ability, age, race, class, sexual orientation or gender identity?

In this 3-hour workshop, part of the Skillful Engagement series you'll learn about the key, practical questions to ask at the outset of any skillful engagement initiative to ensure a more inclusive process and outcomes. Facilitators Natasha Aruliahand and Suzanne Hawkes will share several brief case studies and best practices and draw on the wisdom and specific challenges of participants in a rich, highly interactive dialogue. 

Read more about the Skillful Engagement Series

Skillful Engagement is a community of practice for engagement practitioners. The series showcases innovative projects and speakers, provides a forum to share knowledge and challenges, and acts as a catalyst to inspire and support the growing engagement sector. This work reflects a shared understanding that improved engagement of communities, organizations and stakeholders leads to better decisions and stronger, more resilient outcomes.

Skillful Engagement is a partnership between the SFU Centre for Dialogue’s Civic Engage Program, SFU Public Square, and SFU’s Dialogue and Civic Engagement Certificate program.


Thu, 21 Apr 2016 11:54 AM


2:00PM – 5:00PM



World Art Centre, SFU Woodward's Goldcorp Centre for the Arts,

149 West Hastings, Vancouver



Registration not yet open.

Tickets are $50 for government/private professionals, $25 for non-profits/student practitioners.

For ticket inquiries, please contact Civic Engage at

About the Facilitators

Natasha Aruliah is a counsellor, facilitator, educator and consultant with over 20 years’ experience working in diversity, equity, social justice and intercultural studies across the UK, Canada, the USA and internationally.  Her work has focused on the areas of education, healthcare, public sector and community services, with individuals and organisations interested in systemic change. It incorporates intercultural competence, emotional intelligence, critical thinking and organisational change, and in particular explores power and privilege. She strives to create spaces for all voices to be brought in and supports dialogue across difference and on topics that are usually avoided, taboo and challenging. Her work included a provincial initiative facilitating community dialogues on race around the province. Natasha also teaches at the Centre for Intercultural Communication at UBC, at the Justice Institute of BC and is a founding member and facilitator for the Inner Activist, a leadership development program aimed specifically at social change agents.

Suzanne Hawkes is a facilitator, management consultant and leadership trainer. She has supported stakeholder engagement, dialogue, organizational planning and change initiatives across the US and Canada for over 20 years. She is a principal with Convergence Strategies, based in Vancouver, an associate with InPartnership Consulting, and the sole Canadian trainer with the internationally renowned Rockwood Leadership Institute, both based in the U.S. She is a facilitator with Simon Fraser University’s Public Square. Suzanne entered the facilitation and organizational effectiveness field through an initial focus on multi-stakeholder perspectives in natural resource planning. Suzanne has an Honour’s Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies from the University of Waterloo, and a Master’s degree in Resource and Environmental Management from Simon Fraser University; both degrees focused on indigenous and community-led resource planning. Her clients include the Planning Institute of BC, Vancouver Coastal Health, Wellstone Action, the City of Surrey, Town of Smithers, Push International Performing Arts Festival, Emily Carr University, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Clean Energy Canada, and the David Suzuki Foundation.