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i4 Conference: The Future of Healthcare

Hello again, dear readers! Emily here! As we head into the Thanksgiving long weekend, I wanted to share the experience I had at the i4 Conference this week with you all.

This was the first virtual conference that I had ever attended, and before I get into what the conference experience was like, I want to commend the i4 team for the incredible job they did in coordinating such an outstanding conference.

The conference went from 9am-3pm on Tuesday and Wednesday, with a mix of plenary presentations, smaller workshops, and the opportunity to arrange virtual meetups with other attendees. I had the privilege to attend talks about Indigenous lives in health care, Black lives, anti-racism, rural health, and more. And let me tell you: healthcare in Alberta is changing.

The discussions that took place, the passion that I witnessed, the receptiveness of everyone to change right now...all of these are combining to create an environment poised to change in the right ways. We are listening to the needs of everyone, finally.

I heard from Indigenous lawyer Sam Crowfoot about how the atrocities that we think are ancient history took place in his grandfather's life. The Sixties Scoop was within the last 60 years. Our historical treatment of Indigenous peoples on this traditional, Indigenous land impacts current Indigenous lives. And we are listening to that.

Rural and remote spaces were included in the conversations as well. There are so many initiatives right now aiming to help rural Canadians access care. Tele-Rehab is not alone in our efforts. I think we are at a point now where the burden of accessing care is being shifted from the public onto health care providers. We don't have to accept that accessing care is difficult for rural residents. Society is finally ready to accept the technologies and processes that will allow non-urban residents to virtually access quality care.

The final presentation was about change, which I found to be so poignant, and so aligned with how I am feeling. We are in the midst of great change. Climate change, civic change, social change. These have been ongoing for most of my lifetime, but never have they reached such a crux as they have since the onset of COVID-19. We are being forced into change. But instead of feeling crushed by this, the i4 Conference left me feeling inspired.

I feel inspired to change. To effect change, to experience it, to fight for it. Because I think that we can see clearly, now, that we have some work to do. And most of all, I think we're finally ready to do it.

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