Canada India Networking Initiative 2018: Building healthy “civil” society through innovation, technology and engagement

Dr. Arun Garg
Photos submitted

THE word “civil” has different  meanings and  at Canada India Network Society (CINI), we have taken it to mean a society which is based on access, equality and wisdom in education, justice and health.

We have chosen health as our area of interest. One of the subsets of our vision is to build links between Canada and India through a healthy civil society by sharing , networking and collaborating in projects of mutual interest. To this end we have organised two major conferences and initiated several projects during last 8 years. (Visit:

Our third conference – CINI 2018 – takes place from June 8 to 10 in Surrey. Just like the previous two conferences, it’s organized by CINS and co-hosted by Simon Fraser University and Fraser Health. This year, we are also joined by Global Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (GAPIO), Canadian Association of Physicians of Indian Heritage (CAPIH) and our own BC-based Canadian Physicians with Interest in South Asia (PISA-BC).

Dr. Janet Funk

CINI 2018, like the previous conferences in 2010 and 2014, is designed as an outcome-focused interactive conference.  The context of building healthy civil society thorough innovation, technology and engagement in health care. The meeting is not a “conference ” in the traditional sense where an expert gives a presentation and the learner takes the message for its use home. These sessions of the conference are sharing of the work being done by the speaker to build further depth and capacity for the project. It is what we call “Active Interaction and Networking.”

So everyone attending the conference is a speaker in their own rights and integral to the conference. Each session is further enhanced by designated “champions” who will enhance post conference follow-up and are experts in the area with strong commitment.


The outline of the program is:


* Friday June 8:

– 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. – Round Table 1 on technology, professionalism and quality. A small group of leaders have in-depth discussion on possible projects in their respective areas. The session champions include Louise Turner, CEO of Innovation Boulevard, and Dr Roy Morton of Fraser Health.

– 6 to 9:30 p.m.: Opening reception and networking. Our partners – Simon Fraser University, Fraser Health, Global Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (GAPIO), Canadian Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, and Physicians with Interest in South Asia – will kick off the conference. We plan to acknowledge and recognize leaders at the event (by invitation).


* Saturday, June 9

Dr. Sean McKelvey

– Saturday morning session at SFU Surrey campus will start the scientific sessions. Topics include how to lower the burden of chronic diseases, called Non-communicable Chronic Disease (NCD) using diabetes as the framework. Though our focus is the South Asian population, the learnings are scalable and applicable to the population at large. Minister of Health, Adrian Dix, will join the session. Co-Chair George Abbott (former health minister) and Dr Ramesh Mehta, President of GAPIO, along with the champion of the session Marc Pelletier of the Institute of Health System Transformation and Sustainability will coordinate presentations of Deljit Bains, Sean McKelvey, Gulzar Cheema and JT Thakur in their projects on non-therapeutic interventions for healthy living and lowering the burden of diabetes.

– Second half of  the morning will have co-chairs Victoria Lee and Lakshmi Yatham with Anson Koo as champion. We will hear from two leading practitioners in mental health, Nitasha Puri and Suma Kollipara. The burden of mental health is huge in the society and we all need to find sustainable solutions.

Dr. Simon Sutcliffe

– The last hour of the morning session will be exploring emerging practices around palliative care and cross pollination of East and West philosophy in this very precious area under co-chairs Simon Sutcliffe and Sheila Chaturvedi with Simon Sutcliffe and JT Thakur as champions. BC Palliative Society Director Dori Barwich and Two World’s Gillen Fyles will share practical and interactive concepts and ideas.

– The public event of the conference is our signature banquet co-hosted with the Surrey Board of Trade. The theme of the banquet is “Building links between two great nations through healthy civil society one step at time.” Beside good, healthy cuisine, the evening will also have networking, informative and experiential presentations, and entertainment. The ticket is only $100 plus GST  per person, or a table of 8 for $800 plus GST.  We plan to contribute to the designated project of Mental Wellness  through the Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation designated funds.

– Saturday afternoon will be bringing professionalism and leadership to the forefront and how these tools can build and support sustainable healthy civil society. With Anupam Sibal and Tania Bubela as co-chairs and Roy Morton as champion, the session will hear from Anupam Sibal, Graham Dickson, Arvind Lal and Robert Woollard on leadership, physicians, lead tools and professionalism.


* Sunday, June 10

– Sunday will start with ‘Integrative Health’ with Sunita Vohra and Sunil Parikh as co-chairs and with Tania Bubela and Farah Shroff as champions. The session will include presentations by Farah Shroff on Ayurvedic medicine, and Libby Garg on fast nutritious food and its role of nutrition in integrated health. Other speakers will include John O’Neal on traditional Chinese medicine clinic and integration with First Nations, David Florkowski on traditional Chinese medicine in curriculum, and Angella Dixon on patient experience using integrative medicine.  We are also planning a more in-depth round table led by Sunita Vohra  with Tania Bubela and Arun Garg as champions and address specific question of  opportunities and challenges in integrative medicine and Canadian health academic centres and  how to increase research content and capacity in Canadian institutes on integrative health practices.

– The last session of the conference e will bring experts and practioners in technology and share its application to build a healthy civil society. Bruce Ralston, Minister of Technology, will share opening remarks. The session will be chaired by Kathy Kinloch and Sanku Roy with Phil Barker and Louise Turner as champions. Short, snappy focused presentations by Nancy Price, Janet Funk, Anmol Kapoor, Paula Ardiles, Arun Jankar, Akiko Campbell, rep of  Medtronics,  and Kendall Ho, in their cherished projects ,will be shared.

The conference will end with closing session reports by respective champions and recommendations and the next steps. As indicated, the conference is all about how we connect, build networks and collaborate to build healthy civil society in the context of Canada and India partnership.


* Friday 9 a.m.-2 p.m.: Roundtable at Innovation Boulevard Office, Surrey

* Friday 6-9:30 p.m.: Opening reception in City of Surrey Foyer

* Saturday 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m.: Session 1 – Diabetes, palliative care and mental health addiction – SFU Surrey

* Saturday 1:15-4 p.m.: Leadership and  Health – SFU Surrey

* Saturday 6-10 p.m.: Banquet at Royal Palace Banquet Hall, Payal Business Centre

* Sunday 9 am.-12 p.m.: Integrative Medicine at SFU Surrey

* Sunday 12:30-4 p.m.: Technology – Innovation at SFU Surrey

* Sunday 4-5 p.m.: Closing session at SFU Surrey

* Sunday 5-6:30 p.m.: Reception and Networking at SFU Surrey