The CCRC and lead partner Libro Credit Union are excited to announce its 4th biennial Rural Talks To Rural (R2R) conference titled, ‘Rural Today, Rural Tomorrow’ on OCTOBER 17-20 in Brussels, Ontario.

In partnership with leading rural organizations in Canada, the conference addresses some of the most challenging crises before us. Each day is viewed through the Rural Today, Rural Tomorrow lens.

Virtual options include live access to keynote speakers, guest speakers, and panel discussions. We also invite you to join us on Thursday, October 19th at 8:00 PM ET for an evening of blues and roots music with Juno and Maple Leaf Blues Award winner Al Lerman and his Trio. Video links with a registered password will be sent the week leading up to the conference.

Print version of the agenda can be downloaded here.

Day One – Wellbeing
Day Two – Housing
Day Three – Climate & Community

Day Four – Future Considerations, Art & the R2R Market

DAY ONE – Monday, October 17 – WELLBEING

QUICK ACCESS to Passport to Research Information (Topics, Researchers & Practitioners)

TimeActivityVirtual AccessDescription
7:00 AMRegistrationOpen for registration, meet & greet, coffee & snacks at the Brussels Four Winds Barn.
8:00 – 8:15 AMOpening/GreetingsYesWelcome to R2R22! Greetings from Warden Glen McNeil of Huron County, Minister of Agriculture, Food & Rural Development Lisa Thompson, The Honourable Rob Black, Senator for Ontario, and Mayor Bernie McLellan from the Municipality of Huron East.
8:15 – 8:45 AMSpecial GuestYesGuest Ron Thomas, Six Nations Advanced Care Paramedic, will open the conference and specifically the Wellbeing Day talking about Indigenous healing when it comes to PTSD and how Indigenous knowledge is impacting community wellbeing across all borders. 
8:45 – 9:15 AMThe Future of RuralYesMary Doyle, CEO of Rural on Purpose leads us in a foresight-building exercise utilizing knowledge from the Institute of the Future. Throughout the conference, delegates and guests will move from foresight to insight to action as we build a shared vision of the future and a plan for rural tomorrow.
9:15 – 9:45 AMKeynote AddressYesDr. Baretta R. Casey former Director at the Center of Excellence in Rural Health (CERH) in Hazard, Kentucky is the inspiration that saw the beginning of Gateway Centre of Excellence in Rural Health (Gateway CERH) in Huron County. Dr. Casey will share her journey from being a country doctor to the creation of rural health and wellbeing centres on a local and international scale.
9:45 – 10:00 AMBREAKCoffee from our local friends at Coastal Coffee.
10:00 – 12:00 PMLIBRO
Passport to Research
Delegates in small groups will connect with rural health and wellbeing researchers/practitioners – from academia/rural health institutions – to learn about the research/practices of rural wellbeing but drop into dialogue with some of the brightest minds working in rural health to talk about their own communities. There will be 10 different stations to visit! Click here for information about the research.
12:00 – 1:30 PM LUNCH Grab your boxed lunch and walk along the Guelph to Goderich Rail Trail. This is an optional off-site lunch, with a short bus ride from the Brussels Four Winds Barn to the G2G Rail Trail. With G2G Rail Trail members, delegates can stroll this fine piece of rural infrastructure and enjoy a fresh air experience. Dress for the weather!
1:30 – 2:30 PMGuest SpeakerYesPresident and Founder of Gateway CERH Gwen Devereaux is in conversation with Dr. Casey about CERH in Hazard, Kentucky that spawned it. This conversation shares knowledge and a roadmap for how other communities can develop their own version of a Centre for Excellence in Rural Health and the steps to get there.
2:30 – 2:45 PMBREAKStep outside, grab a refreshment and have a chat with other delegates!
2:45 – 3:30 PMWorkshop: PercussionDrummer Tom McClelland will be holding an interactive experience for all delegates and presenters. Tom is a professional drummer who has played all across Canada and the US. It’s time to move and get into a rhythm for wellbeing.
Drumming is an important form of communication and can be very much a part of personal wellbeing.”
3:30 – 4:45 PMWorkshop: Nonviolent Communication (NVC)YesLeading Practitioner Kit Miller takes us through the impact that NVC can have on our own way of thinking and as importantly impact how a community can change its way of thinking, of communicating. In partnership with Huron County this introduction to NVC continues with two other sessions outside the conference later in the week.
4:45 – 6:00 PMJunk Food PairingJunk Food Pairing with local, family-run Bad Apple Brewing, Hessenland Shatz Winery and Cornerfield Winery. They offer us their finest libation with a unique food pairing for this sundowner. A hit at R2R18 the Junk Food Pairing leads to our first dinner.
6:00 – 6:30EXTENDED BREAKTake time to get refreshed and ready for supper.
6:30 – 8:00 PMSUPPERPresented by the local culinary artists, Liz and Frank Ihrig at Hessenland Inn & Shatz Winery. We will enjoy food prepared from the bounty of the county.
End of Day One

DAY TWO – Tuesday, October 18 – HOUSING

In partnership with Huron County and Rural Ontario Institute

TimeActivityVirtual AccessDescription
7:00 – 8:30 AMBREAKFASTBreakfast at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch #218, a one-minute walk to the Brussels Four Winds Barn. Click here for the address.
8:30 – 8:45 AMWelcomeYesWelcome to Day Two on affordable and attainable housing.
8:45 – 9:30 AMThe Future of Rural YesMary Doyle, CEO of Rural on Purpose continues the foresight-building exercise based on the theme of the day, attainable/affordable housing.
9:30 – 10:00 AMKeynote AddressYesNancy Orr of Nancy Orr and Associates and Mayor Marcus Ryan of Zorra Township set the table for the workshop: ‘Bias toward action.’ Bringing their experience/perspective/collaboration to attainable housing, this tag team brings energy, passion, and clarity to the subject and will offer guidance for the Bias Toward Action Workshop to follow.
10:00 – 11:15 AMWorkshop: Bias Toward ActionA series of interactive breakout sessions looking at the tools we have, the tools we need and the work ahead to build rural attainable and affordable housing for now and for future generations to come. Led by Mayor Marcus Ryan of Zorra Township, Connor Dorey from County of Lennox-Addington, and Nancy Orr of Nancy Orr and Associates, this series of sessions is based on ‘Bias Toward Action.’
11:15 – 11:30 AMBREAKMorning Break. Top up your coffee and have a chat!
11:30 – 12:00 PMPanel Discussion: Tools for ActionYesIain Storosko from the Rural Ontario Institute along Mitch Rhodes and Kristin Crane from United Way Perth-Huron offer attainable housing recommendations and tools for action based on the housing data tool, “Rural Housing Information System,” and the “The Future of Housing” report.
12:00 – 1:00 PMLUNCHA culinary experience presented by Khawla Kitchens: Authentic Syrian and Lebanese Cuisine.
1:00 – 2:30 PMPanel Discussion: A Shift in MindsetYesNancy Orr moderates a panel that includes Warden Glen McNeil from Huron County, Savanna Myers from Grey County, Connor Dorey from Lennox-Addington County, Planner Caroline Baker of Baker Planning Group, and Ryan Deska from Habitat for Humanity Guelph Wellington. What is the mindset in your community when it comes to attainable housing? This session promises to be a lively discussion on the stage with comments and questions coming in from the floor.
2:30 – 2:45 PMBREAKTime to hydrate and take a step outside!
2:45 – 3:15 PMGuest SpeakerYesPauline MacIntosh of the Coady Institute in Nova Scotia takes us through the work going on in Nova Scotia when it comes to attainable and affordable rural housing.
3:15 – 4:45 PMInteractive Game Developed by Game Designer Nolan Wadsworth in collaboration with the CCRC and the Rural Ontario Institute – HOME is a collaborative storytelling/teaching tool designed to help communities have more productive conversations about affordable/attainable housing. This is the first time HOME comes out of the box. You are the first players in the world to play it.
4:45 – 5:00 PMBREAKA short break to grab a tea or Coastal Coffee before we wrap the Housing Day.
5:00 – 6:00 PMIn Response YesLed by Mayor Marcus Ryan, Nancy Orr, Connor Dorey and Pauline MacIntosh, this session is less a wrap-up than a response to the entire experience of the Housing Day.
Housing is absolutely essential to human flourishing, without stable shelter, it all falls apart.” Matthew Desmond.
6:00 – 6:30 PMEXTENDED BREAKTake time to get refreshed and ready for supper.
6:30 – 8:00 PMSUPPERA time to carry the conversation forward over a meal and local libation – created by the chef from Bobby’s Tandoori House in Bayfield with beer and wine from some of Huron County’s finest local makers.
End of Day Two

DAY THREE – Wednesday, October 19 – CLIMATE & COMMUNITY

In partnership with Libro Credit Union

TimeActivityVirtual AccessDescription
7:00 – 8:30 AMBREAKFASTBreakfast at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch #218
8:30 – 8:45 AMWelcomeYesWelcome to Day Three on Climate & Community
8:45 – 9:30 AMThe Future of RuralYesMary Doyle of Rural on Purpose continues the foresight-building exercise based on the theme of the day, Climate and Community.
9:30 – 9:50 AMGuest SpeakerYesThe Libro Credit Union welcomes grade 12 student and climate activist Sammie Orr will speak to the delegation about her experience of jumping into the climate movement in grade 7 and where that journey is today.
9:50 – 10:00 AMBREAK Refreshment time!
10:00 – 11:30 AMPanel Discussion
Part 1: Climate Adaptation
YesDeb Borsos, Recovery Specialist/Artist, moderates a powerful panel from the global community of disaster recovery. The esteemed panel includes Huron County’s Dave Pullen, a Huron Forestry and Conservation officer, and Derry Wallis, Climate Change and Energy Specialist who bring the local perspective. Christian George, Director, Bushfire Recovery Victoria in Australia will join us via video link. Alessandra Jerollman from the southern US brings her recovery experiences from the hurricanes along the Gulf Coast. Deb Borsos and panel bring their insights forward on pre-event recovery planning. It is a proactive practice that uses data, local and Indigenous knowledge, that sees rural communities with their eyes wide open when it comes to recovery.
11:30 – 11:40 AMMINI BREAKBio-break
11:40 – 12 PMPanel Discussion Part 2: Climate AdaptationYesA Q&A with our guests from across the planet and the delegation – both virtual and in person. We continue our panel discussion with Deb Borsos, Dave Pullen, Derry Wallis, Christian George, and Alessandra Jerollman.
12:00 – 1:00 PMLUNCHLunch provided by the wonderful chefs at the White Carnation.
“White Carnation – A Culinary Experience For Your Eyes And Palate Located In The Heart Of Huron County”
1:00 – 2:00 PMKeynote AddressYesPatrick Michell, a Nlaka’pamux leader and former Chief of Kanaka Bar Indian Band near Lytton British Columbia speaks about resilience when it comes to climate adaptation. Lessons learned from the devastating fire in June 2021 and the impact that fire continues to have on his community are shared.
2:00 – 2:15 PMBREAKGrab your afternoon refreshment.
2:15 – 3:45 PMPanel Discussion: Business, Climate & CommunityYesWhat is the future of business, climate and community? Entrepreneur/Scholar Casandra Bryant of The Changent Circle along with a panel of thought leaders including Maryam Mohiuddin Ahmed, Founding Director of Social Innovation Lab, Chef Tammy Maki, Founder and Owner of Raven Rising Global Indigenous Chocolates and Sarah Syed, Poet, Science Researcher, Top 20 Under 20 Youth in the World will explore how social enterprise/social purpose businesses are addressing environmental, and social challenges in our rural communities.
3:45 – 4:05 PMGuest SpeakerYesSarah Syed will continue to share her vision and knowledge in adapting existing climate tech to make it more efficient.
4:05 – 5:30 PMWalkaboutLocal Paul Nichol, Community Futures Huron Director and business owner, leads us out of the barn on a walkabout of Brussels – visiting a few folks, before traveling down to the river to the mill.
5:30 – 7:00 PMSUPPERBeach Patties – a Carib restaurant along the lake – will wow us with a genuine Caribbean meal.
8:00 – 10:00 PMEvening EntertainmentYesJuno and Maple Blues award-winning bluesman Al Lerman and his fabulous trio will fill the barn with some great sounds. The doors open for folks from the village who haven’t been attending the conference… a time to mingle and meet the folks.
End of Day Three


In partnership with Rural on Purpose and Homegrown Food Basket

9:00 – 12:00 PMR2R MarketR2R Market featuring local and conference artists and businesses from 9 AM – 12 PM.
7:30 – 9:00 AMBREAKFASTBreakfast at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch #218
9:00 – 9:30 AMWelcomeYesMeet and greet and welcome to the final day.
9:30 – 11:00 AMKeynote Address: The Future of RuralYesMary Doyle, CEO of Rural on Purpose completes the foresight-building exercise and gives a keynote address entitled, ‘Think Like a Futurist.’
11:00 – 11:30 AMReflections on R2R22YesArtist Mags Lepine of Defining Doodles shows the artwork that they created during the conference – and make it available online to the delegates.
11:30 – 12:00 PMR2R MarketFinal call for the R2R Market!
12:00 – 1:00 PMLUNCH AND THANK YOULight lunch created by another of the County’s chefs. Thanks and gratitude are offered with reflections on Rural Today, Rural Tomorrow along with next steps on how to continue the experiences of R2R22 in the coming years.
1:15 PMEnd of conferenceYesThank you and safe journey home!
1:15 – 4:00 PMWorkshop: NVCOptional: Kit Miller leads another session on nonviolent communication and is open to delegates and other guests at the Brussels Four Winds Barn.

Post Conference Workshop – Friday, October 21 – Nonviolent Communication

This workshop will continue for those interested on Friday, October 21 between 9:00 – 4:00 PM with lunch included at the Libro Community Hall in Clinton, ON. There will be an added cost for this day-long workshop. Learn more about this post-conference offering including the topics and cost.

To register for the Friday, Oct 21 full-day session at the Libro Community Hall, click here.

Contact Peter Smith peter@ruralcreativity.org for more information.