Message from His Honour the Honourable Russ Mirasty, Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan

Message from the Saskatchewan Minister of Education, The Honourable Dustin Duncan

On behalf of the Government of Saskatchewan, it is my pleasure to welcome you to the 26th National Congress on Rural Education in Canada. I would also like to thank the Planning Committee for the many months of planning to make this virtual event a reality. I am very impressed that this group gathers each year to discuss how we can continue to make a difference for students in rural schools. 

Saskatchewan’s excellent education system was founded on rural education and we will continue to value it. The Government of Saskatchewan understands that maintaining a strong rural education and creating positive outcomes for all students is necessary for a strong Saskatchewan. The National Congress on Rural Education in Canada provides a valuable opportunity to highlight our successes. 

This year’s theme is an exciting one - Rural Education Beyond Borders: Reframing the Conversation. It recognizes the importance of creating meaningful dialogue by hearing and learning from the experiences of your rural education counterparts around the world. I look forward to hearing about the ideas that are presented at this year’s Congress. 

As the MLA for Weyburn-Big Muddy, I grew up in the Weyburn area and I understand how important rural communities are to our great province. The Government of Saskatchewan is focused on building strong relationships with and supporting parents, community members, school staff and students in rural Saskatchewan so we can enhance their learning experiences to help students succeed. 

Saskatchewan’s education partners are working together to create a new provincial education plan for 2020-2030. As we continue to develop the plan, voices from rural Saskatchewan will continue to be heard.

I assure you that our government will continue to ensure rural education remains a priority. 

The Government of Saskatchewan shares your passion for supporting each student in reaching their full potential, and we look forward to our continued work together. Thank you all for being here as incredible leaders, advocates and education professionals who share a common goal of providing quality education for rural communities across Canada. 

All the very best wishes for a successful event. 

The Honourable Dustin Duncan 
Minister of Education 

Message from the Director

Dear Partners in Rural Education:
On behalf of the Department of Educational Administration and the Saskatchewan Educational Leadership Unit (SELU) in the College of Education at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada, it is my pleasure to invite you to participate in the 26th annual National Rural Congress to be held virtually on March 28th and 29th, 2021.  The theme of the Congress is, “Rural Education Beyond Borders: Reframing the Conversation.”  Our Congress will highlight global perspectives on rural and remote education and research, and engender exciting discussions between educators, school and system leaders, parents, community members, and researchers.
The University of Saskatchewan is situated on Treaty 6 territory and the homeland of the Métis in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.  The Department of Educational Administration in the College of Education has a long history of providing leadership, research, and programming that supports rural educators, schools, and communities.  It works in collaboration with SELU that has over 30 years of leadership in practitioner-focused research and development for educational partners, First Nations authorities, and human services agencies.
The Congress will begin on Sunday with a keynote address offered by the Honourable Bev Busson, a Canadian Senator and the first woman Commissioner for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.  On Monday, we have planned an international expert panel on the theme of “Why Rural Matters.”  The Congress will conclude with a keynote address offered by Dr. Dianne Looker, Professor Emerita and former Tier I Canada Research Chair in Equity and Technology, whose work focuses on how gender, ethnicity, rural-urban, and socio-economic status impact the facility with, and access to, technology. In between the keynote sessions, we have planned learning sessions and moderated dialogues to build in relationality and discussions.  We also will be showcasing graduate student research presentations as a feature of the virtual event.
We hope that you will consider forwarding a presentation for our learning sessions, and that you feel free to forward the call to others who have an interest in the programmatic and research innovations found in local spaces committed to rural schools and communities. 
Take care, and we looking forward to hearing from you!

Dr. Dawn Wallin 
Director, National Congress on Rural Education in Canada 2021






Learning Session Descriptions

Live Stream Presentations (Opening, Keynote Speakers, and Closing)

26th Annual National Rural Congress Opening Ceremony and Keynote Address
26th Annual National Rural Congress Day 2 Opening and International Panel Presentation
26th Annual National Rural Congress Keynote Presentation and Closing Address
26th Annual National Rural Congress Opening Message


Connectivity Tests

From the computer you intend to use when you participate in the National Congress on Rural Education in Canada 2021, and with that computer connected to your internet service, please click on the following buttons to complete the two connectivity tests. 

 Please be aware that all participants will require—at the very minimum, a desktop or laptop computer (hand-held devices are insufficient) with:

  • a camera,
  • a microphone,
  • speakers,
  • internet access, and
  • an up-to-date version of the Chrome or FireFox web browser

Keynote Speakers

Bev Busson never imagined her decision to join the RCMP back in 1974 as one of the first female members, would lead her to becoming one of Canada’s most powerful women. And allow her to experience a career marked with trail blazing success stories and such incredible challenges along the way.

Not only was Bev one of the first women to join the RCMP but she was also the first woman to be appointed to the position of Commanding Officer of a Province, the first women to be appointed as Commissioner of the RCMP and the first police officer to ever be awarded the Order of British Columbia. She is also a Commander of the Order of Merit of Police Forces, and in 2006 was named one of Canada’s Most Powerful Women.

From her experiences as a rookie cop through her extensive experience as a serious crime investigator and later as the leader of a 25,000 member Police Force, Bev not only survived, but thrived in a dynamic, ever challenging environment.

Bev earned the reputation as a ‘straight shooter’ and someone you could trust to always do the right thing. This leadership style earned her the respect and support she needed to take on the position of Canada’s top cop, during some very difficult times.

Today, Bev is a keynote speaker sharing her Leadership lessons with audiences across the Country. She offers her comments and advice on how to navigate the workplace from the bottom up. She has lessons to pass on from the unique perspective of a woman employed in a male dominated working environment and in strategically leading a complex and dynamic organization.

Her remarks are sprinkled with stories and anecdotes about her own experiences, some humorous and some serious, but all of them designed to have her audience lean in to her inspiring message.

Bev, who earned a Law Degree from the University of British Columbia, also holds three Honorary Doctorate of Law Degrees, one from the University of the Fraser Valley, one from Simon Fraser University and her most recent, awarded in June of 2017, from the University of Regina. In November 2015, Bev was recognized as a Female Trailblazer at the Catalyst Awards event held in Toronto. She served as a VicePresident for the Board of Directors of the Okanagan College Foundation, and in September of 2013 she was appointed to British Columbia’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Crime Reduction. Bev continues to serve on numerous Boards and Committees, along with taking an active role in mentorship projects for young leaders.

Professor Emerita, Mount Saint Vincent University and Acadia University 

E. Dianne Looker is an Emerita Professor of Sociology at Mount Saint Vincent and Acadia Universities in Nova Scotia. Dr. Looker was a Canada Research Chair in Equity and Technology, examining issues of how gender, ethnicity, rural-urban, and socio-economic status impact the facility with, and access to, technology. Previous to accepting her Chair, Dr. Looker was a full professor at Acadia University in the Department of Sociology, where she also served as Chair of the Department from 1995 to 2002.

Over her career much of her research has examined rural youth and their transitions to adulthood, taking a life course perspective on the paths they pursue. Her current research looks at alternate and atypical paths to adulthood, including those chosen by youth who opt to stay in, return to or move to rural areas. Much of this research deals with various forms of mobility – mobility in and out of the parental home, to and from one’s community of origin, and to and from rural areas. Most recently she has worked on looking at factors influencing youth and young adults to stay in a locale, challenging the notion that mobility is the only or the best path for all young people.

Dianne has published and presented extensively on these topics, and has been awarded several major research grants and contracts dealing with equity issues, including issues of rurality and mobility/stability. She has served as an advisor for a number of organizations, including Industry Canada, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, Statistics Canada, the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission, the Council of Ministers of Education Canada and the Canadian Millennium Scholarship Foundation.

International Expert Panel

Bæck works as a sociology professor at the Department of Social Sciences, UiT The Arctic University of Norway. Her main research interests lie within the sociology of education, focusing on educational achievements and trajectories and on how social background, gender, ethnicity and place, as well as the intersections between these, play a part when it comes to different forms of inequalities in education. With an aim to reveal how inequalities are produced and reproduced, she is also interested in the relationship between the education system and other basic institutions, such as policy, family and the labour market. This has led her to investigate the education system from different angles, from the perspectives of students, teachers, parents and from policy perspectives. From a theoretical point of view, she has been particularly interested in how social and cultural structures condition the actions of individuals, and she puts forward power relations and questions regarding inequality as essential to understanding constraining and enabling elements when it comes to educational achievements and trajectories.

Bæck’s broad interest in education and inequalities, has also led her to investigate research problems through different methods, and she has worked extensively with mixed methods approaches that include document studies, qualitative interviews, as well as analysis of different forms of quantitative data. She has also conducted comparative studies in a number of different countries: Finland, Sweden, Russia, Canada.

Bæck has been a project manager on several research projects, among other things focusing on geographic education differences, unemployment among youth in peripheral places and home-school relations.

Dr. LIU Jing currently work as the director of office for international exchange and collaboration, Faculty of Education, Beijing Normal University. She takes the overall responsibility of implementing the global engagement strategy of the faculty of education.

 She worked as an education consultant in Mott MacDonald (Cambridge Education) from 2007 to 2012 and provided technique assistance to a number of basic education projects in rural contexts supported by DFID (UKAID), UNICEF, World Bank and Save the Children. She worked as a programme specialist in UNESCO INRULED (International Research and Training Centre for Rural Education) from 2012 to April 2019, with the responsibility of leading the programme called “Quality Teachers for Rural Schools”.

 She has 15 years’ experience in research and practice of teacher education in rural China. She developed and conducted training projects for school teachers and head-teachers in rural China focusing on learner-centered pedagogy. She designed and delivered capacity building programme for educational officials and teacher educator from South-east Asia and sub-Sahara with key competences on building up support systems for teachers’ CPD. She also serves as a consultant for educational NGOs and provides technique support on improving the quality of teaching and learning.

 Dr. LIU Jing’s research focuses on policies of teachers, professional development of rural teachers, school improvement in rural settings, child-friendly school in disadvantaged areas and sexuality education in remote communities and gender equality in education. Her publications include books, guidebook, training modules, journal articles and keynote speeches at international seminars and conferences.


Dr. Allen Pratt is the Executive Director of the National Rural Education Association.  He has served in this role for 5 years.  The focus of his work is providing a unified voice for rural schools and communities.  His work in the past has been in the areas of workforce development, school reform, professional learning communities and rural education initiatives. 

He has served as a high school science teacher and coach, high school principal, assistant superintendent/curriculum director, executive director of the Tennessee Rural Education Association, executive director of the East Tennessee Center of Regional Excellence for the Tennessee Department of Education, and rural outreach liaison for Lincoln Memorial University. His primary interests include issues that impact rural schools and the role of instructional leaders at the district and building levels. He is also involved at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga School of Education and Educational Leadership.

Congress Sponsors

Conference Sponsorship Opportunities

Conference Presentations

  • Presenters who submissions were accepted are invited to share their presentations on the National Congress on Rural Education in Canada website.  Please forward to by March 15, 2021.
  • Please observe Intellectual Property Rights for all presentations.

Resource Presentations

Graduate Student Presentations

Congress Scholarship

Idowu Mogaji

Dr. Murray Scharf Award for the National Congress on Rural Education in Canada 2021

The Saskatchewan Educational Leadership Unit is pleased to announce that Idowu Mogaji has been awarded the Dr. Murray Scharf Award for the National Congress on Rural Education in Canada 2021.  Idowu’s contributions in planning this year’s event is greatly appreciated.  Congratulations, Idowu!


Planning Committee

National Congress on Rural Education in Canada 2021 Planning Committee
Kathleen Fisher Saskatchewan Ministry of Education
Ruth Griffith Saskatchewan Association of School Councils
Elizabeth Hutton Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation (STF)
Holly Mayes Saskatchewan Educational Leadership Unit (SELU)
Shaun McEachern STF Professional Learning
Idowu Mogaji Dr. Murray Scharf Rural Congress Scholarship Recipient
Pamela Osmond-Johnson University of Regina
Ronna Pethick Saskatchewan School Boards Assocation (SSBA)
Patricia Prowse Saskatchewan Educational Leadership Unit (SELU)
Ron Purdy Saskatchewan Association of School Business Officials (SASBO)
Shane Skjerven Saskatchewan League of Educational Administrators, Directors, and Superintendents (LEADS)
Dawn Wallin Associate Dean, Undergraduate Programs, Partnerships, and Research; Director, NCREC 2021
Jay Wilson Department of Educational Administration, College of Education, University of Saskatchewan


20 Year Celebration Video

Contact Us


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Saskatoon, SK  Canada
S7T 0L5
(306) 966-7634