The CBRC team continues to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada and its impact on our research and programming activities, including our annual Summit, which last year brought together over 300 participants from across Canada and around the world. While CBRC remains committed to delivering a unique and interactive conference during the scheduled dates of November 5-6, Summit 2020 will not include the conventional on-site format due to the ongoing risks associated with large in-person gatherings.
Although this means that the Summit 2020 will shift towards a virtual format this year, as other conferences have done, CBRC is also assessing the feasibility of hosting smaller regional on-site gatherings in addition to virtual Summit programming. We recognize that the in-person experience is a major part of what makes the Summit special, and would like to be able to offer an alternative option to participate in-person, assuming that it is safe and practical to do so.
Given the significant challenges and uncertainties in organizing this year’s Summit – in particular, the changing circumstances of the pandemic in different parts of the country – we have decided to delay the launch of the call for proposals and the specifics for this year’s programming format until June 15. We understand that many of you are anxious to have these details confirmed, but ask for your patience as we continue to determine the feasibility of these plans. We will also be using this time to conduct further consultation with our partners and stakeholders.
Regardless of the specific programming format, Summit 2020 will be dedicated to examining the impact of COVID-19 and social distancing on queer and trans communities, and how the pandemic has reshaped priorities for health promotion, research, and advocacy. The Summit has always been guided by the need for community-centred spaces to exchange knowledge and build capacity to address our most pressing challenges, and CBRC hopes that the Summit can continue to provide that critical space in order to strengthen our communities’ response to the pandemic. The full description of the Summit 2020 theme will be included with the call for proposals mid-June.
While it is disappointing that we will not be able to gather at the Summit as in years past, we are excited by the opportunity to innovative and respond creatively to the challenges presented by COVID-19. With encouraging signs that the curve is flattening in many parts of the country, and emerging public health guidance on how to safely reopen, we are hopeful that Summit 2020 will be able to offer a safe yet engaging option to participate.
In the meantime, take the time to read our recently released Summit 2019 Report.