Amnesty International Toronto Organization

Regional Meeting October 16, 2004


Report from Workshop Coordinators


Karen Eaton, Iris Nowell and Elena Dumitru


On July 20, 2004, at one of the early organizing meetings of the Regional Ontario Meeting, Elena, Karen and Iris agreed to co-chair the Workshop Committee. It was agreed that the sessions would be characterized with varying formats, that is, traditional workshops and panel discussions, along with one- or two-person presentations. The overarching aim of the sessions was that they adhere to AI’s intent to educate and inform AI members, and to present an action component wherever possible. And importantly, that sessions be structured on issues that would involve outside participation, that is, to include speakers and panelists to present human rights views from a perspective apart, although complimentary to, Amnesty’s work. This, we felt, would expand members’ understanding of human rights.

The Regional Committee and the Workshop Committee structured a format of sessions, each one hour and fifteen minutes, for a total of nine – three sessions running concurrently at 9:30 a.m, three at 1:30 p.m., after lunch, followed by another three at 3:00 p.m. Two plenary sessions were held; one prior to lunch, and the second scheduled as a closing plenary. 

Information about the Regional Meeting was circulated, seeking support and input. Interested AI members (group members, country coordinators, field workshops, etc.) brought forth topic ideas to the Workshop Committee and the Regional Committee. Certain members who made suggestions agreed to be the coordinator and in some cases, speaker or moderator of the session.

The Workshop Committee established a set of guidelines for sessions. This was forwarded to session coordinators, asking them to submit an outline of their sessions based on the guidelines, with names of presenters or proposed presenters. In some cases, the Workshop Committee was asked to recommend and book speakers, especially those outside AI. 

Once the Workshop Committee, in consultation with session coordinators, agreed on topics for discussion and speakers, the task began of inviting speakers and finalizing material for the session – handouts, workshops, petitions, etc.

A draft agenda was posted in the news calendar, AITO and national websites outlining the sessions and guest luncheon speaker Alex Neve. Response for registration was quick, and the week before the Regional Meeting, we had reached our capacity audience of 150, as regulated by Metro Hall, and, in fact, had to turn down late prospective registrants.

Many presenters used overheads/slides to enhance their presentation, and most distributed handouts for audience members to take with them.

Coordinators of sessions did an excellent job of preparing their sessions and apart from typical last minute glitches of a couple of cancelled speakers and quick action to find stand-ins, the backstage scramble went unnoticed by the audiences.

As seen by the evaluation reports, sessions of the Regional Ontario Meeting were very well received.

One area the workshop committee found a bit challenging was getting the workshop outlines and blurbs for the agenda on time.


Submitted by:

Karen Eaton, Iris Nowell and Elena Dumitru