Magnetic North

By the organizers who brought you Come North


Northern Ontario Population Growth Forum

June 12 – 13, 2023


A lot has changed since February 2020, when the first Come North conference was launched. We face ever-changing demographic challenges in our communities. This creates a growing need to retain and fully embrace the existing populations. Strategies, priorities, and next steps must be revised and adapted regularly. Magnetic North is that opportunity to regroup and refocus.

Magnetic North 2023 is our 4th annual Population Growth Forum. Attendees can join the discussion online about topics including reconciliation and anti-racism, attraction, and settlement of domestic and international migrants, and retention of the existing populations.

Magnetic North will build off priorities established and lessons learned from previous years’ conferences. A hybrid approach will not only address any lingering results of COVID-19, but will also maximize the diversity of participants and ensure that the findings reflect the needs of our communities.



Day 1: Monday, June 12th, 2023


Welcome and Land Acknowledgement Mercedes Labelle, Senior Policy Analyst, Northern Policy Institute

Traditional Greetings, Métis Senator Steven Callaghan

Welcoming Remarks, Mayor Paul Lefebvre, City of Greater Sudbury


Stef Paquette

Stéphane Paquette, Médiateur culturel en éducation autochtone



Keynote #1: Q&A Session

30-minute break


10:50 AM – 11:05 AM – Aliki Economides, McEwen School of Architecture

11:05 AM – 11:20 AM – Charles Bekai, Northern Ontario Black Economic Empowerment Program (NOBEEP)

11:20 AM – 11:40 AM – Bela Ravi, Sudbury Multicultural and Folk Arts Association



Plenary Q&A Session

Lunch break


Presented by Mercedes Labelle, Senior Policy Analyst, Northern Policy Institute


Concurrent Priority Setting Roundtables: Actions for the Next Year

Facilitated by Pierre Riopel

About: Northern Ontario’s landmass is over 800,000km2. It’s impossible to know everything happening in our regions. But there are ways to highlight efficiencies to increase capacity and service delivery, by knowing, sharing, and connecting. What are some best practices related to service delivery and partnerships? How can we work to remove silos and highlight efficiencies? Are there efficiencies that can be highlighted, or is there broader, systemic change that needs to be undertaken?

Facilitated by Jasmine Morin, Service Canada  

About: Federal, provincial, and municipal programs are claimed to be ever prevalent in our regions – though, that might not reflect the reality end-users are facing. What programs related to population growth currently exist in Northern Ontario? Are these programs being utilized? Can they be made more effective?

Facilitated by Dania Kuzbari, Employment Advisor, Sault Community Career Centre

About: With an aging labour force, it is now more important than ever to both attract talent to our regions, while also ensuring the existing population is fully participating in the labour market. What are some best practices to improve EDI efforts in workplaces? What supports do employers need to help with this process? What are the new challenges these institutions/companies/organizations are facing? What are some of the strategies that are being employed to keep things moving forward?

Gisele Regimbal

Facilitated by Gisèle Regimbal

About: The past three years have shown unprecedented amounts of change: people out-migrating en masse from large cities, remote work becoming the new norm, and people wanting more for their money. Northern Ontario is perfectly posed to capitalize on these changes, are we ready?


30-minute break


Regina Mandamin

Panelist: Regina Mandamin

Beverley Roy

Panelist: Beverley Roy

Connor Lafortune

Panelist: Connor Lafortune

Jennifer Johnson

Moderator: Jennifer Johnson




Panel #1 Q&A Session

Closing Remarks

End of day

Day 2: Tuesday, June 13th, 2023


Daphnée Traoré-King, Magnetic North Program Officer, Northern Policy Institute

Remarks, MPP Jamie West (Sudbury)

Remarks (Recorded), MP Viviane Lapointe (Sudbury)


Cameron Moser, Senior Director, ACCES


Keynote #2: Q&A Session


30-minute break


Thomas Mercier

Panelist: Thomas Mercier, Executive Director, Réseau du Nord

El Hadji Diop

Panelist: El Hadji Diop, Student, Laurentian University

Panelist: Susan Sinclair, Oshki-Pimache-O-Win (L’Institut d’éducation Wenjack)

Moderator: Kalyn Banks, ACFO-Témiskaming



Panel #2: Q&A Session

Lunch break


Concurrent Paper/Project Presentations – Breakout Rooms

Presentation 1: Habitus sanitaires des immigrants francophones à Sudbury

Presentation 2: Parcours et expériences des femmes immigrantes vivant dans le Nord-Ouest de l’Ontario et les effets de la pandémie sur leur bien-être

Presentation 3: Diversité culturelle au service de l’excellence en emploi

Presentation 4: État des lieux de la discrimination à Sudbury

Presentation 1: Promoting Diversity, Inclusion, and Social Integration: Best Practices from Global Case Studies

Presentation 2: Culture of the North

Presentation 3: Reducing Racism Through Shared Experiences

Presentation 4: A Proposal for Change – Dialectics for Indigenous Peoples

Presentation 5: Kʌ tho i:kéhse̲’: I am here

Presentation 1: Creating a thriving multicultural community: The case of Kirkland Lake Multicultural Group

Presentation 2: The accessibility of autism services for children in Northern Ontario: The role of spatial factors and children’s travel behaviours

Presentation 3: Explorative Strategies in Retention of International Students in Northern Cities: A Comparative Study of Greater Sudbury and North Bay

Presentation 4: Being proactive in rural Canada: Creating mechanisms for inclusive workplaces that support employers and employees

Presentation 1: L’accès à la main d’œuvre francophone et bilingue : une stratégie qui fait ses preuves dans le Nord de l’Ontario

Presentation 2: À la rencontre de la Nordicité : le cas de l’Université de Hearst

Presentation 3: Population growth as a BAD policy: getting rid of attraction and retention

Presentation 4: Understanding barriers to accessing primary health care among immigrant populations in Northern Ontario


30-minute break


Sally Dunton

Panelist: Sally Dunton

Jean Paul

Panelist: Jean-Paul Kalwahali

Joanne Gervais

Panelist: Joanne Gervais

Magnetic North logo

Panelist: Julie Léger

Magnetic North logo

Moderator: Martin Lajeunesse



Panel #3: Q&A Session

Daphnée Traoré-King, Magnetic North Program Officer, Northern Policy Institute

4:15pm End of Conference


Two conferences in February 2020 explored the challenges related to achieving population retention and growth. The resulting discussions provided the foundation for a community driven action plan to attack racism, further reconciliation, and attract newcomers to our regions.

Click below to read the Come North 2020 Conference Report, Proceedings, and Immediate Action Plan.