Two years ago, Barb Williams, Conference Services Manager at The Banff Centre, presented Ken Craig, Ray Peters, and Robert McMahon with a piece of rundlestone from the now-demolished Donald Cameron Hall. The building, which stood at the heart of The Banff Centre for many years, was the site for their annual Banff International Conferences on Behavioural Science.
The gesture was made in recognition of the conference’s history here: last month’s conference, on psychological health in the workplace, was their 42nd at The Banff Centre, making them one of the longest-standing annual conferences here. Turns out, as they hint throughout our conversation, their loyalty to Banff is not all that different than that of a ski bum who can’t bring himself to leave town.
“A few things have changed about the conference over the years, although one mainstay is the skiing and after-hours parties at the Rose and Crown,” says Craig, who has co-organized the event for over 30 years. “It’s like ‘positive reinforcement’ for travelling to a scientific conference,” McMahon jokes. Peters says that Banff’s rich variety of ways to have fun allows the international participants to enjoy their time here and better get to know one another. “We’ve built this as a conference of colleagues, and we can get that here in Banff and at the Centre,” he says. “This has become a wonderful place to have conferences.”
It’s also a great venue to make important connections. B.F. Skinner, probably the most influential post-WWII psychologist, celebrated his 80th birthday at the 1984 conference. Attendee Dr. Irwin Altrows was so enamoured with the father of behaviourism that he implored the kitchen staff (“Skinner’s our Elvis!”) to save the candles decorating Skinner’s cake from the trash. The fan framed the candles and its giftwrap, hanging the memento on his wall for several years, before bestowing it to Skinner’s daughter. Judging by the organizers’ sunburnt faces and anecdotes, it seems this spirit of fun, amidst serious scientific exchange, still animates the conference nearly 30 years later.
B. J. Paddy stepped up to the podium recently to celebrate a major milestone in her career as a leader. What she didn’t realize was that she would also be celebrating an important day marked by The Banff Centre’s Indigenous Leadership and Management program area.
Paddy, the executive director for Red Deer Aboriginal Employment Services, was the 100th recipient of the Certificate in Indigenous Leadership, Governance, and Management Excellence, which signified that she has joined 99 other Indigenous leaders before her who have chosen the same path.
As a guest at the wrap-up luncheon for the program, Inherent Right to Indigenous Governance, I heard Paddy echo sentiments similar to those I have heard from many participants in the Indigenous Leadership programs. She mentioned the life-long friendships she has made, the invaluable lessons she has taken back to her role and to her community, as well as the deep appreciation she has for sponsors who have helped fund her learning through six programs.
“I would not have been able to come here without their help,” Paddy said, “as I come from a very small organization, and we don’t always have the money for my training.”
The first recipient of the Certificate in Indigenous Leadership, Governance, and Management Excellence, in February 2001, was Brenda Etienne of Kanesatake, Quebec, who now sits on the Indigenous Program Council.
Alberta writer Greg Hollingshead, who is director of the Writing Studio program at The Banff Centre and Professor Emeritus at The University of Alberta, just wrapped up a residency in the Leighton Artists’ Colony. Working in the Cardinal studio, the Governor General Award-winning author penned, for our blog, a handful of aphorisms to brighten, or at least enlighten, your week.
A Week of Thoughts for the Day from the Cardinal
Sunday: Most of us are as attracted to politics as we are unwilling to change ourselves.
Monday: We’re making the life we see, so we’d better keep our eyes open.
Tuesday: Some have the right to be offended, no one has the right not to be.
Wednesday: A dog is caught up in saving its skin, a man is caught up in saving his image of himself.
Thursday: Ghosts are traces of old emotion, not spirits but time scars.
Friday: The world is not partitioned, it’s in fragments, like something broken.
Saturday: Social morality is behaviour prescribed to defend the status quo.
In his opening remarks Banff Centre president Jeff Melanson, tongue planted firmly in cheek, suggested that he and CIFAR CEO Alan Bernstein were announcing their engagement. But behind the smiles lay the essence of this partnership – which is aimed at establishing productive relationships between scientists and artists. CIFAR and The Banff Centre together represent many of the world’s best minds engaged in the arts, and in research in the natural and social sciences. The aim is to get those minds talking – together in Banff, adding to the rich conversation already established through the Banff International Research Station (BIRS).
The partnership was kicked off with a luncheon and panel discussion about colloboration in the arts and science. Herein, eight things I learned while munching my egg salad sandwich:
- Quantum physicists can be awesome dancers – and they can even use dance to illustrate the principles behind quantum computers: meet our panel moderator Krister Shalm and his Quantum Dance project. Krister has promised to bring his dance to Banff in the future!
- From Alan Bernstein: Nobel Laureates in the sciences are 14 times more likely to be artists and ten times more likely to be engaged in creative writing than other scientists. Continue Reading →
Listen to this archival recording from the Paul D. Fleck Library and Archives at The Banff Centre, featuring a 1993 episode of “This Week in Banff”, a joint production of the Centre and CKUA Radio.
“Made in Banff, Shared with the World” is how we express our commitment to documenting and sharing many of the wonderful works that take place here at The Banff Centre. And while the focus is largely on new works from current events and activities, my job at the Centre is looking at the historical recordings hidden deep in the archives. I’ve been spending my time listening to talks, lectures, readings, interviews, and performances, all of which took place here in Banff over the last 30-plus years. I truly have one of the greatest jobs ever, and while I’m here I’m hoping to share some of these great finds with you.
One collection I’ve been enjoying is the former radio program “This Week in Banff”, which was jointly produced by The Banff Centre for the Arts and CKUA, and ran from the late ‘80s to the mid ‘90s. “This Week in Banff” was designed to inform listeners about major events happening at the Centre, and also featured interviews with the people behind the scenes that made it all possible. Two such individuals were Otto Keyes and Ted Sambell, both former head piano tuners at the then-named Banff Centre for the Arts. Both were featured in their own episode, Keyes in 1989 and Sambell in 1993. What struck me in both these episodes was just how much work goes into the maintenance of the Centre’s 102 pianos. Continue Reading →