Saturday, May 27
9–10 a.m.

Being a forceful advocate for rural communities can be a balancing act, managing resources, time and growing an effective network from scratch. In a country as vast as Canada, how do we best address the needs of remote and rural communities that have many shared interests and priorities but few common forums in which to exchange ideas and insights? In this year’s edition of the Rural Plenary, you’ll hear from successful rural advocates who have driven change in their communities, hear the stories and strategies that have resonated with your peers, and learn the best ways to keep rural issues at the centre of national debate.


Robin Kurpjuweit, Councillor

Robin Kurpjuweit is a councillor in Cypress County, Alberta since 2017. He is completing his term as Chair for FCM’s Rural Caucus and 4th year on FCM’s Board. As a councillor, he has worked with all levels of government on issues ranging from addictions, to family and children services, to municipal funding and promoting municipal, provincial and federal partnerships.

Robin is CEO / President of Rock Solid Fencing. Robin’s family have been ranchers since the early 1900s, and Robin and his wife live on a small ranch with their 9 children (1-17).

Sheila North, Former Grand Chief of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak

Sheila North, a member of the Bunibonibee Cree Nation is a Mother, Kookom and former CBC host and journalist, Director of Strategic Partnerships, CTV Political Commentator, Entrepreneur, and Cree Translator. In 2015 to 2018, Sheila became the first female Grand Chief of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) and continues to provide leadership on issues impacting Indigenous people, including the issue of MMIWG and shares perspectives on intergenerational impacts of Residential Schools.

Peter Emon, Warden

The Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus Chair, Peter Emon, is the Warden of the County of Renfrew; during his time as Warden, he has served the EOWC for five consecutive years, once previously as Chair in 2016. Since 1988, he has enjoyed serving his community as a Municipal Councillor for the Town of Renfrew. Chair Emon also sits on the Association of Municipalities and Rural Ontario Municipal Association’s Board of Directors. He holds an Honours degree in Social Work from the University of Windsor and was employed as a Child Protection Worker for 25 years. Peter is presently employed as Community Mental Health Crisis Worker.

Dawn Peters, Deputy Mayor

Dawn Peters is the Deputy Mayor for the Town of New Glasgow, Nova Scotia. She is also a Registered Social Worker with the province and a private therapist. She is involved in climate change, Diversity, Inclusion and accessibility initiatives. She promotes community development, equitable transit and housing for all. In her free time she volunteers in her community recreation centre and speaks out on women’s issues, equity, poverty, addiction and mental health. She has worked for the past 27 years in the field of mental health and addiction. She loves her community and believes in being the change you want to see in the world. She spends her free time with her family and fur babies, helping with community fundraisers, being creative and recently published her first children’s book.

Jacques Demers, Mayor

Jacques Demers is the Chair of the Fédération Québécoise des municipalités, Mayor of Sainte-Catherine-de-Hatley and prefect of the Memphrémagog CRM. Prior to his political career, Demers was a successful entrepreneur, founding a real estate development company that focused on commercial and industrial properties.

As FQM Chair, Demers has been a vocal advocate for Quebec's municipalities, pushing for greater autonomy and funding. He has also been a strong supporter of environmental initiatives, promoting sustainable development in his own municipality and across the province.

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