The Enduring Spirit of Collaboration – Celebrating 20 Years with ASI!

ASI was built on a dream to develop a health promotion leadership institute/summer school in Atlantic Canada that would build the capacity of those working in community – unsolicited proposal

From the first brainstorming to an unsolicited proposal submitted to Health Canada Atlantic Region for seed money, collaboration has been part of our soul. The initial Advisory Committee was composed of individuals across Atlantic Canada who were committed to addressing determinants of health and root causes of crime as a means of promoting more inclusive, sustainable communities. Additional funds were provided by committee members to write a proposal to National Crime Prevention Strategy as to host the summer event. This seemed logical as at that time crime prevention through social development was aligned with health promotion. From this collaboration of health promotion, crime prevention, injury prevention and social development emerged our title – The Atlantic Summer Institute on Healthy and Safe Communities.

Our desire to bring all sectors into the discussion and create a shared agenda resulted in the first summer institute – ‘Meeting of the Minds’. The response was so enthusiastic that subsequent institutes were held to address the demographics of the region. For example: 2005 Embracing Diversity – Building Community; 2006 Innovation and Collaboration – Building Resilient Communities; 2007 Strengthening Communities Across Generations.

Building an organization with soul – one based on values and capturing the passion of social justice required a ‘Body and Soul Committee’ to explore a sustainable structure. A key concern was that if we incorporated, we would become too corporate and lose our soul. A ‘Body and Soul Committee’ took on the task. Thus, our mission was created with great care and ASI incorporated in 2008.

Mission: “To be a world-class institute in Atlantic Canada, that is a focal point for learning, training, inter-sectoral collaboration, a facilitator of research, promoter of healthy and sustainable policies, and a catalyst for social justice and equity in the areas of health promotion, social development, community safety and crime prevention as a means to building sustainable, inclusive communities.”

Since its inception ASI had a goal of developing a shared agenda to build intersectoral practice through expanding the diversity of the ASI Board of Directors and offering key events. And now 20 years of collaboration will be celebrated along with the enduring spirit of its creation.

ASI 2024 will reflect on the accomplishments and impact of ASI over the past 20 years and inspire a vision for continuing collaboration going forward.

ASI 2024 - Objectives

Goal: To celebrate the past work of ASI in connecting civil society, policy makers and researchers, and create a vision for the next 20 years addressing issues that affect our mental health and well-being in Atlantic Canada.


  1. To recognize, learn from and share our collective experience in collaboration over the past 20 years.

  2. To learn from the transformative initiatives of communities in support of well-being, in particular the mental health of infants, children and youth.

  3. To enhance understanding of socioeconomic and environmental conditions and challenges that face wellbeing and how ASI can be proactive in the coming decades.

  4. To expand our understanding of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: 94 Calls to Action and ASI’s role in responding to the Calls to Action.

  5. To develop knowledge and skills for inspiring collaborative leadership across sectors and communities including civil society, public and private sectors in support of a mentally healthy society.

  6. To increase the uptake of the ASI policy brief “Upstream Investment: Placing infant, child, and youth mental health promotion at the forefront.”

  7. To model a supportive and inclusive environment for learning and wellbeing – and have lots of fun together again!

Design Principles

Youth Engagement: Youth will be engaged in providing input to the process of planning the ASI 2024 program and participating in the intergenerational event.

Universal Design for Learning: Whole society representation will be welcomed in the planning process and diverse audiences will participate in ASI 2024.

Engagement of community influencers: Those in a position to influence and implement action that supports mental health promotion for infants, children and youth at policy and community levels will mobilize at ASI 2024.

Equity: Subsidies will be offered to reduce barriers to participation.

Adult Education: Styles are interactive and engaging – everyone is a teacher and a learner.

Experiential Learning: Arts, culture, connectedness to community and nature will be incorporated.

Online Interaction: A robust online conference platform will simulate a face-to-face experience by encouraging networking, relationship building, knowledge sharing with translation support, and post conference connection.

Who will attend?

Politicians, public servants, health practitioners, private sector, media, unions, academics, educators, social agencies, community organizations, Indigenous leaders, youth leaders and the general public… everyone interested in collaborating to improve mental health through upstream policy and programs!


We are happy to share our 2024 ASI Keynote Speakers, Professor Margaret Barry and Dr. Trevor Hancock. Their presentation is entitled, Mental Health, Planetary Health and a Well-Being Society: Looking to the future. 

The 2024 Atlantic Community Showcase will celebrate initiatives that relate to this year’s theme – The Enduring Spirit of Collaboration: Celebrating 20 Years with ASI! And we want to hear your story!