Our community engagement priorities come from the heart.
The Shaw Conference Centre is best known as one of Canada’s premier convention centres, hosting over half a million guests annually and generating over $30 million in economic impact across the province. While attracting national conventions, meetings, and events to Edmonton, the Shaw Conference Centre also demonstrates an unwavering commitment to building local community capacity.
Supporting the Edmonton community has always been a part of our mandate and even today, we’re on the search for new ways to give back to the community that gave us everything. Our community engagement priorities come from the heart. Social progress, art initiatives, community engagement — it’s what we do.
When most people think of the Shaw Conference Centre, their initial thought may be of a building; a meeting place, exhibition hall, or banquet venue. But we’re more than that. As a community hub, the Shaw Conference Centre provides service to the public — in this case by leveraging our space and event expertise to help Edmontonians who might be marginalized by their circumstances.
Homeless Connect is one of the most important events the Shaw Conference Centre has the privilege of hosting on a bi-annual basis. Started in Edmonton in 2008, Homeless Connect is perhaps most easily thought of as a “Trade Fair” for over 1,400 guests who are either homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.
The event is spearheaded by Homeward Trust, the organization responsible for implementing Edmonton’s 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness, established in 2009. Visit our blog for more information on this important community initiative.
With 11 Red Seal chefs and a world-class kitchen, the Shaw Conference Centre is uniquely positioned to not only help groom the next generation of Edmonton’s chefs, but give back to our community by feeding those in need. Executive Chef Serge Belair and his team can always be found making a difference in our community. Some of the amazing things they’ve done include:
- Second helping program (see below)
- 60% of produce sourced locally in 2017
- Support of Redx Talks
- Human and financial resource support for the High School Culinary Challenge
- Simon Smotkowicz Culinary Arts Bursary
- Support of Edmonton’s Freezing Father
- Food production and service for Homeless Connect
Community Medicine Wheel Garden
In 2015, the Shaw Conference Centre unveiled a Community Medicine Wheel Garden on the rooftop of the Riverview Room. Overlooking Edmonton’s River Valley, the garden is designed to be universal in its teachings and be a place for people to meet, share, and connect.
Throughout time, indigenous communities have worked with medicine wheels for sacred rituals, ceremonies, everyday blessings, cleansing, and visions. They gave thanks, asked for guidance, used intuition, and understood their world on many levels.
All Edmontonians and visitors to our city are encouraged to walk through the garden and learn of its teachings. This garden belongs to the people, and the Shaw Conference Centre is inviting groups to utilize this space to enrich our community.
Local Art Initiatives
If you’ve ever walked in our doors, you’ve seen the gorgeous waterfall flowing gently in the lobby. Maybe you’ve posed for a shot in front of “Paskwamostos”, the 12-foot stainless-steel bison that stands guard over the River Valley.
Strewn across the convention centre and our surrounding area, artwork of all mediums, shapes, and sizes stands ready to steal your attention and spark up a conversation.
But when it comes to the Shaw Conference Centre’s artwork, there’s a whole lot more to these flourishes of colour and splashes of inspiration than meets the eye. Woven into every tapestry, molded into each enormous sculpture, and hidden behind all those dribbles of paint are the stories of Edmontonians from virtually every walk of life.
Take, for example, the pARTnership program. Every year, the Edmonton Public and Catholic School boards partner together with us to curate student-created pieces for a one-of-a-kind showcase. Around 30 from each school board are chosen to be displayed in the convention centre’s highest traffic areas, where over half a million visitors will have a chance to marvel at the creativity of our city’s young and aspiring artists.
We share memories and condolences — like the Inukshuk erected in memory of David Kootook, a man whose bravery helped save the life of a medivac pilot in Yellowknife while costing him his own. Part memorial, part art installation, this wonderful monument by Edmonton artist Wayne McKenzie stands as a reminder of the values we all share.
The “DREAM. Big” plaza, created by Donald Moar, celebrates contemporary artistic excellence while also putting our city’s passion for culture, beauty, and innovation in plain sight for the world to see.
From budding students to renowned artists, we take pride in giving local talent a stage to showcase their work. Sometimes that stage is enormous — for example, the three gigantic murals that adorn the walls of Hall D, an homage to the North Saskatchewan River by beloved Alberta artist Clay Ellis.
Consider the towering 12-foot bison crafted by international Canadian sculptor Joe Fafard that is now perched outside overlooking the river valley vistas. Year-round, we see locals and jet-setting tourists alike stopping to snap a photo or pose for a memento in front of these works, taking a piece of Alberta home with them.
It is our partnerships, big and small, that help make art happen here. Read more by visiting Art in Unconventional Spaces.
The City of Edmonton is committed to building a socially, environmentally, economically, and financially sustainable society. In alignment with city priorities, the Shaw Conference Centre highlights Edmonton’s commitment to sustainability throughout our operations.
We are the first conference venue in Canada to receive Green Key level five status, are BOMA BEST certified and ASTM certified. Visit Sustainable Meetings for more information on our sustainability program.
Second Helping Program
Did you know we serve over 250,000 meals annually and donate nearly 3,000 kilograms of leftover food to Edmonton’s Food Bank? We were the first organization in Edmonton to join the Second Helping Program and work closely with Alberta Health Services and our local food bank to ensure that there is no waste. Watch the video below to see this fantastic community partnership in action.
Big or small, the Shaw Conference Centre and its employees always look for ways to give back to our community. Other community initiatives include:
- Bike donation to Edmonton Commuters Bicycle Society
- Annual participation in River Valley Clean-up
- Urban Beekeeping
- Operation Friendship Seniors Society
- Community Art Program