5th Annual Strategic Internal Communication Conference

Toronto, ON & Online

21 - 23

Redefining Normal

First we talked about getting back to normal after the pandemic was over.

Then we said the impacts would create a new normal- New ways of working as a result of changes caused by the pandemic and other global disruptions.

Eventually we started talking about the next normal, reflecting on the acceleration of hybrid work, communication technologies, focus on diversity and inclusion, and preparing for the impacts of a the great resignation that put employees and their wellbeing at the centre of decision making.

…but what is normal anyway?

It is now time for redefining normal and what it means for communication professionals and their organizations. Are you ready?

Join us to hear from leaders in our field who will share their stories of struggles and success. Get insights from thought leaders on what the new normal is and how to prepare for the future. Learn about the new technologies now available. Take pride in the important role you play in communicating to and engaging employees and internal audiences.


Inner Strength Communication uses its expertise in Internal Communication, Change Management and Branding to enable, engage and empower employees and internal stakeholders to deliver business results from the inside out.

With a lofty vision…that organizations and leaders see strategic internal communication as integral to business success. That’s why they are committed to helping communication and business professionals to step up their game; bring strategic communication solutions to the boardroom; and earn their seat at the table.

SummersDirect Conference & Events is a conference planning company that sets itself apart from the rest with a focus on customer service and value. With over a dozen years of providing quality conference programming to communications professionals across Canada.

SummersDirect events deliver:

  • quality speakers presenting on real-life case studies
  • tools and techniques that you can take away and use
  • networking opportunities with your peers to exchange ideas and best practices
  • value for your money
Join our email list for updates on this event and future internal communication events.


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Courtyard by Marriott Toronto Downtown & Online

  • Reserve a guest room for $225 CAD per night

Book your group rate for Strategic Internal Communications Meeting

Alternatively, you can call Marriott Reservations and make a booking at 1 (800) 847-5075

Thank you to our sponsors:

Contact Monkey logo

Become a sponsor, contact us.

Day 1

Monday, November 21, 2022

8:30 – 8:45 a.m.

Priya Bates, ABC, MC, CMP, IABC Fellow, President
Inner Strength Communication Inc.

8:45 – 9:45 a.m.

Nicholas Wardle head shotNicholas Wardle, Head of Employee Experience, Brand Experiences

Opening Keynote

The Employee Lifecycle: Creating Moments That Matter

Your organisational culture is not what you say it is, it’s what your employees and customers say it is. There are hundreds of touchpoints on the Employee Lifecycle and just one bad moment can seriously impact an employee’s relationship with their organisation – leading to a loss of motivation, loss of productivity and in serious cases, a resignation. So, it’s vital to identify the ‘moments that matter’ on the Employee Lifecycle and put steps in place to surprise and delight your people along the way to boost engagement, loyalty and performance.

Attendees will learn how to:

  • Define and then use Employee Journey Maps
  • Create effective moments that matter
  • Measure the metrics that matter
10:15 – 11:15 a.m.

Keisha McIntosh, (she/her), Communications Manager, Division of Equity, People and Culture

Vanessa Thompson, Communications Planner & Internal Communications Officer, York University 

York’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy – The guiding communications principles used to create a sense of belonging 

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) are core to York University’s values. For community members, making positive change requires that all members of our diverse community feel welcomed into a sense of belonging, common purpose, and shared responsibility to support and enrich each other’s work.

Prior to the development of York’s first EDI Strategy, much work was underway and completed across the university to advance the principles of EDI from tools, guidelines and caucuses to frameworks, plans, policies and committees. There was a need to create a cohesive institutional EDI strategy.

The communications team built out a comprehensive multi-phased plan, leveraging relationship building, allyship, community outreach, credibility and transparency as key principles to guide our overall communications strategy.

At this session, Keisha and Vanessa will:

  • Share how York built and cultivated stakeholder relationships with equity-deserving groups and allies within our community
  • Identify non-traditional communications tactics to create broad awareness, promote engagement and garner community feedback
  • Explain how to utilize an EDI-focused glossary to accompany and influence an institutional style guide, both of which are meant to be inclusive of our community members
11:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.  ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSIONS HOT Topic: Lisa LaFlamme and Internal Communication Gone Wrong

The departure of Lisa LaFlamme served as an important lesson on what not to do when it comes to internal communication. In roundtables, Priya Bates will facilitate a conversation with fellow attendees.

Together we will discuss:

  • What went wrong with the initial CTV departure announcement?
  • How did one departure escalate into conversations about ageism and sexism and create activism with the public and other brands?
  • What could have prevented employees from leaking information and keeping the story alive for weeks?
  • What is the impact on CTV and the BellMedia brand?

By using our collective wisdom, we will learn from their mistakes in order to prevent similar situations with employers and clients.

12:15 – 1:15 p.m. NETWORKING & LUNCH BREAK
1:15 – 2:15 p.m.

Kerry Gaetano,
VP & Head, Corporate Communications,
BMO Financial Group

Ali Duncan Martin,
Director, Corporate Communications,
BMO Financial Group

How a Corporate Communications team helps fuel an ambitious strategy

The context: a pandemic, clear goals and objectives and a focus on winning. The need: evolving the strategy for a 200+-year institution with 45,000+ employees. The opportunity: creating and sustain momentum among employees coping with the effects of the pandemic (in business and life).

These BMO Corporate Communications senior leads will take you through some of the tactics and best practices they used to launch an award-winning communications strategy for BMO’s five-year strategic roadmap.

At this session, Kerry and Ali will speak to how the team used the Bank’s strategy to inspire and motivate employees – helping the bank drive strong financial results and activate employees’ Winning Culture. They’ll also review:

  • Building employee engagement across different geographies, role types, and lines of business.
  • Best practices from an award-winning live-stream event with more than 10,000 employees in attendance across all lines of business.
  • Test and learn principles, and how to successfully socialize among key stakeholders.
2:15 – 3:15 p.m.

Raechel Wastesicoot (she/her),
Manager, Internal Communications, Nature Conservancy of Canada

Strengthening Connections Within a Non-Profit Organization

In the non-profit world, the connection employees have with the organization’s mission and values is pivotal to the work we do on a daily basis. Streamlining communications, changes and growth helps to strengthen from within and gives employees the knowledge, confidence and trust to work together toward collaborative goals and the organization’s bigger picture. As a growing organization under a new eight-year strategic plan, internal communications at the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) continues to be an important tool in helping align employees to our goals, inspire innovation and teamwork and keep colleagues up to date and informed. NCC is Canada’s largest, private land-trust organization, with offices in all 10 provinces, and a diverse workforce with staff working in office, from home and remotely in the outdoors in various times of year. Raechel Wastesicoot will discuss how implementing internal communications tools, engaging employees on EDI initiatives, encouraging intergenerational solidarity helps to connect employees from home offices and in the field from across Canada (in both English and French).

3:30 – 4:30 p.m.

Andrea Greenhous, President & Chief Internal Communications Strategist, Vision2Voice Communications

Fearless Internal Communication

Psychological safety is the number one predictor of high performance, inclusion & belonging, innovation, and trust at work. But unfortunately, psychological safety is difficult to create and leads a fragile existence. This is because it is constantly threatened by the organizations’ systems, beliefs, mindsets, and our own natural habits, responses, and ways of thinking and knowing.

A low level of psychological safety also impedes the ability of internal communications professionals to achieve results. After all, building understanding and creating a culture of listening can’t happen when employees don’t feel their voices are valued and respected.

Based on the research and work of Amy C. Edmondson, who was recently named the #1 management thinker on the planet, not to mention her own work as a certified Fearless Organization Practitioner, Andrea will share the surprising role of internal communication in building fearless organizations.

In this session, you’ll learn:

  • What psychological safety is and what it is not
  • The four dimensions of psychological safety
  • Why psychological safety is so important for building an exceptional employee experience and the workplace of the future
  • How psychological safety prevents burnout and supporting employee wellbeing
  • The steps internal communications professionals can take right now to build and maintain psychological safety in their organization

Go to Day 2

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Day 2

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

8:30 – 8:45 a.m. WELCOME AND OPENING REMARKS FROM THE CHAIR Priya Bates, ABC, MC, CMP, IABC Fellow, President
Inner Strength Communication Inc.
8:45 – 9:45 a.m.

Amanda Sheps, Principal Consultant, Gallagher

Priya Bates, ABC, MC, CMP, IABC Fellow, President
Inner Strength Communication Inc.

Opening Keynote

The Gallagher State of the Sector: How Canadians Compare

For the first time in its 13-year history, The Gallagher State of the Sector report that highlights trends in Internal Communication globally had enough participation to research Canadian results. In this session, Amanda Sheps of Gallagher – Employee Communication & Experience and Priya Bates will review the global results and how Canadian Internal Communication Professionals compare to provide insights on unique opportunities and challenges.

Learning Outcomes

  1. The results of the disruptions of 2020 and 2021 on Internal Communication globally
  2. The key trends that will drive the future of Internal Communication
  3. The state of Internal Communication in Canada and how it compares
10:15 – 11:15 a.m.

Jordan Beresford, Manager of Employment Brand,  SEPHORA Canada

Igniting a SPARK Through Your Biggest Brand Ambassadors – Your Employees

What better way to champion your employer value proposition than through your most engaged employees! In 2021, Sephora Canada did just that launching the first ever Sephora SPARK Employee Ambassador program. Charged with amplifying Sephora Canada’s EVP, these high performing culture catalysts are leveraging both Sephora Canada’s and their own individual social platforms to share incredible and inspiring stories about working at Sephora Canada in an authentic and influential way. This session will take you on our journey of bringing the Sephora SPARK Employee Ambassador Program to life, from conception, to selection and development of employees, and how they remain engaged in sharing their authentic stories to attract talent.

 You’ll come away from this session with a framework for launching your own employee ambassador program.

11:15 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Brent Artemchuk,
Change Manager,
Future Workplace, TD Bank

If You Build It, Will They Come? A Post-Pandemic Return To Office Case Study
After more than two years working from home, how do you prepare an organization and its employees to return to the office — knowing it won’t look like it did before the pandemic? How do you reimagine how work gets done, striking the right balance between offering flexibility and delivering in-person opportunities for collaboration, creativity and connection? How do you pin your strategy to the commitment that no matter where employees work, they can grow skillsets and careers? And finally, how do you maintain your culture in the face of safety concerns, employee readiness and new routines?
During this case study-styled session, Brent will answer those questions as well as highlight how he and his team borrowed from the change management best practice hand book to drive internal communication excellence. He’ll also provide an overview of lessons learned and thoughts about what the future of work holds.
12:00 – 1:00 p.m. NETWORKING / LUNCH BREAK
1:00 – 2:30 p.m.

Arlene Amitirigala

Principal & Chief Communications Strategist,

TrulyArlene Communications
& Panelists

Redefining Internal Communication

Historically, Internal Communications has been narrowly defined and often undervalued. It emerged in an era of ‘push information and execute’ and although it has evolved, it is still often viewed as a tactical role. How should we now define Internal Communication to reflect its valuable contributions to driving behavioural, business, and reputational outcomes? Is it synonymous with Internal Branding, Employee Engagement or HR Communications? What are the must-have skills to succeed as an impactful Internal Communications practitioner? All these questions and more have become increasingly urgent in the rise of internal communications post-Covid. Gone are the days of push and execute. Internal Communications is a strategic role that is being redefined every day.

In this interactive session, you will join expert practitioners in charting a path forward for the discipline. You will walk away with:

  • A deeper understanding and appreciation of the evolution of the function and where it is today.
  • An enhanced ability to be more strategic in demonstrating the value of the function in advancing your organization’s business priorities.
  • The proof points for your seat at the C-Suite table and a roadmap for elevating the internal communications function in your organization – party organizer be gone!
  • A new definition for internal communications that will guide organizational planning, budgeting, role profile creation and remuneration.
2:45 – 3:30 p.m.

Jade Garrido, Director of People and Culture, Contact Monkey

Meaningful Connections by Design 

We work to earn a living, but we stay at an organization for the sense of purpose and connection we feel to the people we work with and the work we do together. If there’s one word that encompasses economic trends such as the Great Resignation or Quiet Quitting, it’s disconnection.  In a time where the average employee tenure is less than 3 years, it’s time to ask ourselves, how exactly can leaders work to foster more connections between their employees?

Every time a group or team gathers is an opportunity to reinforce your culture, foster trust, and create a deeper sense of purpose. In this session you’ll learn the 5 keys to connection at work and how you can weave these connections within the employee experience to retain your team and create a thriving workplace.

We will explore why connection in the workplace is more important than ever and what you can do to accelerate trust, rapport and psychological safety. Let’s make that group of 300 feel like a gathering of 30. 

Whether it’s through the hiring journey or the future of your employee past present future.

3:30 – 3:45 p.m. NETWORKING BREAK
3:45 – 4:45 p.m. Maliha Aqeel, PMP, SCMP, MC, Founder & CEO,
The Ideas Collective Inc.
Closing Keynote

The Power of Purpose in Business Communication

What is the role of business beyond making a profit? This is the central question that the majority of brands are being asked by employees, customers and other stakeholders. Studies show that when companies fully capitalize their scale to benefit society, it can have a tremendous impact on addressing societal issues such as climate change, income inequality and racial injustice.

In recent years, we have seen brands doubling down on their purpose as the North Star guiding their decisions with varying results. Authenticity and clear communication are often the key differentiators of success. Therefore, the potential is huge for communication professionals to help companies demonstrate the impact of their purpose and how business can serve as a force for good.

This session will examine the role of purpose as a company’s superpower and how the business communication function can keep purpose on top of everyone’s mind every day.


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Post-conference Workshops

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Workshops will be in person only.

Register here

9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Workshop A: Creating a Motivational Employee Experience with a Hybrid Workforce
1:00 – 4:00 p.m. Workshop B: Becoming an Employer of Choice in Canada

9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. 

Workshop A: Creating a Motivational Employee Experience with a Hybrid Workforce

An introduction to mojo – the motivation and productivity platform – which focuses on energising your enterprise.

To get the best out of your people, you first need to understand what motivates them. Fully motivated employees are not only more productive and high-performing, they will also be more resilient and be in a better wellbeing place.

In this workshop, you will:

  • Understand the importance and impact of motivation in the workplace
  • Learn the ROI of the Employee Experience
  • Take a mojo map to understand your intrinsic motivators and current levels of motivation
  • View a team map to understand which motivators complement each other, where they could clash, and any gaps within a team
  • Work together to create a better work environment, based around people’s motivators

Nicholas Wardle head shotNicholas Wardle, Head of Employee Experience, Brand Experiences

Nicholas is an award-winning employee experience practitioner with over 15 years’ experience in the employee experience/comms/engagement space, both in the UK and in the Middle East. He has worked across many sectors, including: the arts, television, local government, retail, housing and care. Nicholas is a Fellow of the Institute of Internal Communications (IoIC). His mantra is to ‘keep the complex, simple’ and he believes that the employee experience should have parity with the customer experience. He is the co-author of the book: Monetising the Employee Experience.

1:00 – 4:00 p.m.

Workshop B: Becoming an Employer of Choice in Canada

As organizations fight for talent and manage the effects of The Great Resignation, many are looking at getting recognition as an Employer of Choice in order to drive recruitment and retention…but are all programs built the same? Priya Bates has helped employers and her clients navigate the Canadian Award Marketplace. In this workshop, you will learn:

  • The business case for Employer of Choice
  • The various employer-of-choice programs available including process, costs and credibility
  • How to determine the program that’s right for and create a plan for success

Priya Bates is an award-winning professional communicator with a passion for driving strong performance from the inside out. As President and owner of Inner Strength Communication, Priya builds strategic internal communication, engagement, branding and transformational change plans that enable, engage and empower employees to deliver business results. Her clients include organizations and leaders across technology, retail, financial, healthcare, mining and manufacturing sectors looking to build strategic internal communication expertise.

As co-founder for A Leader Like Me, Priya creates an empowered community for women of colour to help them build skills, define strategies, and find support to grow in their careers.

Priya is an Accredited Business Communicator (ABC) and was proud to become one of the first Certified Strategic Communication Management Professionals (SCMP) in the world. In 2010, she received the Master Communicator (MC) designation, the highest honour bestowed upon a communication professional from IABC Canada. In 2016, she was recognized as an IABC Fellow, a global lifetime achievement award for her contribution to the profession.  Priya is also a passionate volunteer with the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), and is proud to have led the organization’s successful global rebranding effort.

Register here

Pricing Information

2022 Conference Pricing



Launch Rate

(until July 22, 2022)

Launch Rate

(until July 22, 2022)


Early Bird Rate

(until September 30, 2022)

Early Bird Rate

(until September 30, 2022)


Regular Rate

(after September 30, 2022)

Regular Rate

(after September 30, 2022)

BEST VALUE! Conference + Two Post-conference Workshops (Nov. 21, 22 + 23) n/a $1185.00 n/a $1399.00 n/a $1649.00
Conference + 1 Post-conference Workshop (Nov. 21, 22 & a half day on Nov. 23) n/a $1125.00 n/a $1299.00 n/a $1399.00
Conference – 1 Day (Nov. 21 or Nov. 22 ) + 2 Post-conference Workshops (Nov. 23) n/a $1025.00 n/a $1197.00 n/a $1397.00
Conference – 1 Day (Nov. 21 or Nov. 22) + 1 Workshop (Nov. 23) n/a $695.00 n/a $848.00 n/a $998.00
Conference – Both Days (Nov. 21 & Nov. 22, 2022) $725.00 $849.00 $825.00 $999.00 $900.00 $1099.00
Conference – One Day Only (Nov. 21 or Nov. 22, 2022) $365.00 $415.00 $415.00 $499.00 $495.00 $599.00
Post-conference One half day Workshop (Nov. 23, 2022) n/a $415.00 n/a $499.00 n/a $549.00
Post-conference Full day of Workshops (Nov. 23, 2022) n/a $695.00 n/a $848.00 n/a $998.00

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Cancellation & Refund Policy

Substitution of delegates is permissible without prior notification. Refunds will be given for cancellations received in writing no later than 10 days prior to the conference date subject to an administration fee of $200 plus $26 for HST or $10 for GST (online registrants). After this time, you are liable for the full registration fee even if you do not attend the conference. If you register during this 10 day period, you are also liable for the full fee. SummersDirect Inc. reserves the right to change program date, meeting place or content without further notice and assumes no liability for these changes.