National Conference

The annual National Trust Conference is Canada’s largest heritage learning and networking event. Held every year since 1974, the National Trust Conference brings together a wide-range of people working to keep Canada’s heritage alive: from grassroots activists and elected officials, to professionals, planners, policy makers, and property owners. Conference themes have tackled pressing issues for Canada’s heritage movement, including community revitalization, heritage tourism, sustainable development, and climate change.



National Trust Conference 2021

(In association with Canadian Association of Heritage Professionals)

Heritage and the Global Reset: Seizing the Moment

September 28 – October 1, 2021 (Virtual)


Conference Website. Click here

Sponsorship opportunities. Click here


Call for Presentations (.pdf)


The global health crisis has bought into clear focus the damage the current economic paradigm has wrought. The response around the world has been explosive, including demands for redress of social and racial inequities, rebalancing of climate, and rethinking the economy.
As the world hits the reset button, the National Trust in association with the Canadian Association of Heritage Professionals invites you to be part of a cross-Canada conversation about the responsibility and the opportunity heritage conservation practitioners have at this critical moment. More than ever, heritage places have extraordinary potential to meet the challenges of a post-COVID world, through reflecting the cultural diversity of Canada in the quest for reconciliation and equity, in reducing resource consumption and GHG emissions, and by providing the building blocks for a sustainable economic recovery.
Heritage and the Global Reset will bring together 500+ participants from a diverse range of backgrounds – from architects to conservation practitioners and public policymakers, from heritage volunteers to elected officials, Indigenous partners and students – in a virtual platform designed to facilitate productive discussions that actively advance the heritage sector and change our world.

Presentation proposals are invited on the following themes:

1. Environmental Reset – Asserting Conservation as Climate and Consumption Solution

The heritage sector has long known that we cannot build our way out of the climate crisis. Conservation of embedded carbon through preservation and adaptive reuse offers the single greatest step in achieving Canadian climate targets by minimizing the unchecked production and landfilling of construction materials. And yet the national emphasis of climate crisis response remains focused on resource-heavy solutions – for instance ill-conceived intensification, the quest for zero-net carbon operation, and other “green” goals – which are putting counter-productive pressure on Canada’s heritage places. Faced with these pressures, how is the heritage sector recalibrating its heritage principles, practices, and public posture to enable building reuse and landscape preservation, build allies, and shift public attitudes? How do we reimagine or reposition heritage as a vital agent of climate action?

Possible topics may include:
• Case studies or data demonstrating building reuse as effective climate action
• Balancing carbon goals and energy retrofits while retaining heritage value
• Intensification – principles for façade retention, building relocation, or additions
• Relationship between heritage conservation and “urban mining” or circular economy
• Heritage influence on new construction through long-life, loose-fit buildings
• Indigenous perspectives on climate response and environmental conservation.
• Heritage places and remote heritage in peril, including Indigenous heritage places
• Reimagining heritage sites and museums for climate action


2. Social and Cultural Reset – Changing the Narrative and Expanding Relevance

While the heritage conservation movement has successfully inspired and empowered people to protect heritage places, many perspectives and narratives have been excluded or marginalized. The recent struggles around monument removals and renaming show that heritage has social and political consequences, and the heritage sector can be part of the search for solutions. With the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, the landscape for heritage sites and museums has changed dramatically, requiring them to rapidly adapt their models to survive but also opening the door for a reconsideration of what stories they tell – and who is on staff leading the charge.
This conference stream explores the need for a reset of our own ‘culture of heritage’, exploring how new societal and cultural imperatives are challenging existing paradigms and ways of operating, including what is defined as heritage, and by whom. How can heritage practitioners, volunteers, policymakers, and others create an inclusive culture of conservation? How can we help reinvent, sustain, and ensure the resilience of heritage sites in these turbulent times?

Possible topics may include:
• Creating spaces for marginalized voices in the heritage sector
• Skills development in Indigenous cultural heritage to transform Western practice
• Case studies in integrating accessibility measures and heritage places
• Expanding access to heritage education and democratizing heritage skills
• Addressing the interplay between heritage, gentrification, and inequality
• Sites of conscience, contested histories, recovering “lost places” for social impact
• The shift to virtual – digital tools, tours, fundraising, engagement
• The way heritage responds to affordable housing, public health and well-being
• Developing advocacy and public engagement and changing minds
• Reinventing places of faith – case studies, creative funding, and impact data


3. Economic Reset – Practice, Planning, and Transforming the Marketplace

Conservation practice, the state of the economy, development industry goals, government policies and regulations, the attitudes of lenders, and community concerns are all inextricably intertwined in the heritage sector. When they are in sync, they create a “climate” for conservation that shapes what is possible, which projects get done, and how well they succeed. This conference stream focuses on overcoming the systemic, financial and conceptual challenges to reuse facing urban or rural heritage places and leveraging community revitalization opportunities. It also explores how a heritage sensitive approach – one which emphasizes adaptation, minimal intervention, reversibility, and maintainability – can propel preservation beyond the ‘boutique’ to the mainstream, and generate new tools that will help, not hinder transformative change.

Possible topics may include:
• Sensitive adaptive reuse and infill in historic areas or cultural landscapes
• Impact of infrastructure projects or post-COVID rural development on heritage
• Effective incentives and planning tools for merging old and new in heritage areas
• Challenging traditional planning and regulatory tools (e.g. designation)
• Digital Tools: recording existing conditions, managing sites, envisioning change
• How code, zoning, green ratings and other systems aid or undermine heritage reuse
• Rural/urban projects sustaining or reviving historic Main Streets;
• Implementation of culturally sensitive approaches and the TRC Calls to Action
• Case studies of revolving funds, heritage trusts, and easements to spur conservation
• Ethical/Sustainable Investing – creating financial instruments for heritage reuse


• Traditional Presentation (15 minutes) – These presentations will use case studies (both new and old rigorously reassessed) and research results that offer insights, principles, and real solutions that others can apply in their communities. What questions were raised by the case study and what compelling lessons were learned?
• Spark Presentation (7 minutes) – Brief, effective, powerful. These “Pecha Kucha” inspired presentations raise heritage issues and offer lessons in dynamic sessions.
• Conference Session (90 minutes) – Propose an entire conference session, including a session chair and multiple presenters.
• NEW FOR 2021! – Special Forum – Digital Tools for Interpretation, Dissemination, and Collaboration – Propose a digital tool for inclusion in our special “poster session” forum. These can include digital storytelling tours, interactive experiences, websites, and social
media campaigns. Creators will be present for a live question and answer forum during the conference.

• Title of presentation/session proposed, format, and a summary (450 words or less).
• Please include at least one learning objective for a presentation, or at least 2 for a session, that clearly articulate what attendees will learn as a result of attending. For example: “Analyze and interpret a case study that examines how heritage conservation contributes to neighborhood revitalization and fights displacement”.
• Which conference stream(s) your presentation/session aligns with.
• Your name, contact information, and short bio (150 words)
• Your student status, if applicable.

DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSIONS: Friday, April 16, 2021

Notification of acceptance of abstracts will be made by the end of May 2021. Presenters of accepted abstracts will receive a discount on full conference registration. Student presenters will receive free conference registration.

To submit your proposal, or for more information:
Tel.: 613-237-1066. Visit

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