NSSSA Minutes From:
Metro Regional Cabinet Meeting
Location: Mount St. Vincent University, Rosaria Building, Room 105
Time of Commencement: 19:07
Time of Adjournment: 22:05
Duration: Two hours and fifty-eight minutes
Present Voting Members: Cody Campbell, Hannah Hewlin, Celia Briand, Ciara Harris, Annabelle Linders, Kat Pindera, Robie Gonzales, Fortesa Sahiti, Alex Torrealba, Hannah Johnson, Anna Gaudet, Kailey Webber, Becca MacAulay, Mary Stackaruk
Present Non-Voting Members: Quinn MacIsaac, Julia Lawrence, Tammy Selman, Taline Selman, Qendresa Sahiti, Christina Torrealba, Kassandra Kelbratowski
Regrets: Claire Kleinknecht
Eight Key Concepts: To begin the conference debriefs, cabinet reviewed the eight key concepts and members were reminded to keep them in mind at every meeting, but especially this one. The eight key concepts of the NSSSA are as follows: Speaker in Charge, Right to Pass, Levelling Out, Speak for I, No Unfinished Business, Business Never Personal, No Killer Statements, Positive Internal Focus
Conference Overall: Overall, conference went extremely well with exceptional positive feedback from both delegates and advisors who attended. It came across as though there were a majority of young and new delegates who seemed to have been positively impacted, as well as had an amazing time.
FRAME: Throughout the debrief, cabinet followed the guidelines of FRAME (Focus, Reflect, Assess, Make Meaning, and Explore) to review the two-day conference on November 11 and 12 following the short debrief directly at the end of the second day. It was decided that different cabinet members were to facilitate each topic up for discussion and review throughout the meeting. The topics covered were: Engagement Sessions, Walkie-Talkies, Accountability, Communication, Scheduling, Database, Preparation/Training, Open Spectrum Room, and Advisors.
Engagement Sessions: While discussing the engagement sessions at conference, an overarching problem was communication as each cabinet member or delegate would receive misinformation or half information.
Focus: During registration at conference, the rooms written on the delegates’ hands in red was to be the first engagement session that they would attend, and the room written in green or blue would be the second engagement session to attend; however, there was a miscommunication on which was to be attended first. The WENDYs made announcements on the fact but were clearly not heard or listened to by many. Some cabinet members expressed the opinion that the decision to cut the second engagement session was not necessarily the best idea during conference and there could have been cuts to other activities. Along with this, some engagement sessions’ hosts did not get to interact with many or any delegates at all. Some sessions were over packed because of miscommunication between delegates and cabinet, as well as the fact that some delegates would find out which sessions their friends would be going to and decide to join that one as well. The logistics team were confused on where each session was held and who was leading those sessions and therefore could not accurately direct delegates to the rooms. Last minute registers were stressful and confusing for the 3-tions and the details of the engagement sessions should have been more clearly communicated. At one point, guests leading engagement sessions were in the lobby area of Rosaria with no one from cabinet to help them or lead them to their rooms. Many skill building rooms, which were where the engagement sessions were held, were left untidy before the engagement sessions. As well, during the scheduling and timing conflict, not all hosts of sessions knew about the situation going on and were left in the dark for a period of time.
Reflect: The reason why the keynote speaker ran late was that she began late due to miscommunication between cabinet and logistics and during the switch between skill building sessions and lunch, there was a large time gap. The engagement sessions ran late because the activities ahead were running late. The second engagement session was chosen not to occur because many hosts could not and were not expected to stay later in the day, as well, meal times could not be pushed back. Logistics were running behind on the line-of-sight because many skill builders were told to complete their sessions before moving on to the next activity and the logistics team had to go room-to-room to tell groups to stop their sessions. When someone asked Quinn when engagement sessions were to begin, the feedback that he had been receiving from hosts led to a quick decision to be made regarding the state of the engagement sessions. 3-tions received all of the hosts’ information but did not know where to but the information; there was miscommunication between the 3-tions and the Public Relations as Kat personally thought that the 3-tions knew what information they required from the engagement sessions hosts and what to put into the database. An apology letter was sent to all engagement session’s hosts after the situation. Because the engagement sessions were spread along two buildings and two floors with only one Public Relation having a headset, there was lost communication there as well.
Assess: On the registration form, there could be the engagement sessions listed and delegates/skill builders could sign up for sessions before conference day. Another solution is for each delegate to sign up for their top three engagement sessions that they are interested in, the cabinet makes each group for the sessions based on those preferences, and the list of delegates would be read out at the end of the keynote speaker for the sessions. As well, each engagement session host could receive a card with their name, building, room number, and approximately how many delegates would be attending their session. To make finding sessions easier, signs could be made for each of the rooms. Communication should occur with the speaker about how much time they have to speak and take questions to make sure they would not go over time (especially if activities are running behind schedule). Engagement sessions could also occur in the auditorium.
Make Meaning: All of these points may be brought up at Conference Committee and Inclusion Committee to ensure the same mistakes do not occur. Communication was the largest issue and cabinet members need to be on the same page for the engagement sessions. Each position should have a schedule for throughout conference on what needs to be done. A message board could be put up in a cabinet room for things that need to be completed to helped out with for those who do not have a job to do. Short cabinet meetings could occur during skill building sessions (and other times where most of cabinet does not have a job to do) to fill one another in on different problems to address them at the moment.
Explore: During the engagement sessions and before, resources (such as headsets) need to be allocated the Public Relations until the sessions are complete. All positions that did not have anything to do should have been helping the Public Relations; during all of conference, cabinet should be coming together to help each other out. Talent show prep or another activity could have been cut in half to have an opportunity open for engagement session hosts to return to conference to have their session. More lines on the headsets should be open as the lines were not utilized enough during conference; there could be different lines for specific positions. There could be a walkie-talkie schedule along with a position schedule during conference. A suggestion was to replace engagement sessions with an opportunity fair; however, it depends on what the conference would get out of it as sometimes it is not engaging. Another suggestion was to cut down on the number of engagement sessions and have active sessions on one floor and informative on another to make it easy to locate the different sessions.
Walkie-Talkies: Not everyone on cabinet has a headset, therefore sometimes there was easy and direct communication between cabinet members, but other times people were left in the dark. A suggestion was to get a Walkie-Talkie app (ex. Zello) that all cabinet members would have on their phones to increase communication between cabinet members and everyone would be able to be directly contacted if needed.
Accountability: While discussing accountability, communication was an overarching problem. Taking accountability was an issue during conference when problems arose.
Focus: Accountability is about whose job is whose. Some cabinet members were unclear as to what their role was, whether it was from the turnovers they received or from the training retreat. An example given was from a 3-tion as she felt that she was “left in the dark” regarding her position and that it is difficult to know what you are doing wrong when you never knew what to do. While the Co-Premiers had very little experience on a cabinet and the Co-Advisors had a lot of experience, there may have been a situation where the Co-Advisors were used as a “crutch.” Leading up to conference, it was felt by some cabinet members that there was a lot of input from the Co-Advisors and then during conference there was not a lot of communication with the Co-Advisors. A situation occurred where the logistics were directing delegates and skill builders to their skill building rooms while others were directing people to the auditorium; if an activity is on the itinerary, that is where logistics will be telling people to go and cabinet should communicate more clearly is something in the schedule changes.
Reflect: While the phrase “I did not know” is allowed for the first little bit of being on cabinet, it should not be occurring as much as time goes on; cabinet members should be taking the initiative, learn as much as they can, and utilize their available resources (turnovers, alumni, other cabinet members, etc). While each year there is a brand new cabinet, the biggest issue is not knowing what each person is doing and not asking for help or speaking up about it. The more that you ask for help, the more you can get out of each position, and the more you can put into each event or conference that is put on. An issue that many cabinet members found was that they did not know what they did not know; it is hard to as a question about something that you did not know was going to happen or was your responsibility.
Assess: A suggestion to make to the Provincial Cabinet was that those running for Co-Premier of a cabinet are required too have previous cabinet or committee experience; there was a different dynamic between Co-Advisors and Co-Premiers with the lack of experience. Some positions found that within their turnover packages, there was information regarding their entire position except for what takes place on conference day. 3-tions should be in two different buildings at all times. As the registration forms had many errors and parts to fix, Abe and the Presidential Trio (who made the final forms) should have taken accountability instead of the 3-tions.
Make Meaning and Explore: The logistics should be given a list of which delegates need to leave conference early, who would be picking them up, and at what time. The Public Relations did not know that they had to go through the Presidential Trio in order to contact universities. The Co-Advisors and Co-Premiers may need another alumni position between cabinet as whole and Abe.
Focus: It was felt for some cabinet members that there should have been more cabinet bonding sessions so that partners are on the same page and that there should have been more levelling out with communication between partners. Phones should be on (ringer as loud as possible) and the Walkie-Talkie app should be utilized. Throughout conference, headsets should be given to those who need them the most at the moment. While communicating with cabinet members, everyone should be listening to what each person has to say as every person’s points should be respected and are valid. Without a headset, it is difficult to communicate and cabinet members may feel out of the loop, therefore, cellphones should be used more throughout conference.
Reflect: There should be more communication with advisors and principals because there was a situation where an advisor did not show up and the principal had to be called. While mail outs were not supposed to be sent out, there was a lack of a point of contact with schools. The Head School Reps had a difficult time contacting schools and did not contact all principals, as well as should have had a database to send to the 3-tions.
Assess: There should have been more open communication between cabinet, each school rep, advisors, and principals, as well as between the Head School Reps, the 3-tions and Co-Advisors and with Junior High Schools. Deadlines should also be more clearly communicated with schools. A suggestion was to make a mail out package and then send out an email to each school stating that they were sent out. There should not be an option to send a cheque directly to the NSSSA (to make sure there is only one cheque for each school and there are no lost payments). An idea was to make contact sheets with both alumni contact information and cabinet contact information.
Make Meaning: Some alumni felt disrespected as they gave out pointers to cabinet members that were either not listened to or flat out disrespected. Points that were brought up were sometimes half dealt with but not entirely dealt with. Each school council should choose their own NSSSA rep.
Explore: A suggestion was to request for Abe to come to more meetings or help out the Public Relations more, as well as have the Presidential Trio to have more involvement and communication with the Public Relations or have a Public Relations Coordinator (similar to the Head School Rep Coordinator). The Co-Premiers can bring up that the Trio may need more communication within each cabinet. Quinn will speak directly with the VPE about the deficits that the Public Relations have brought up and how to move forward. Cabinet members are advised to contact alumni if they need help. It may be beneficial to have skill building and delegate forms due on the same day. In turnovers, cabinet members can write in to set more check-ins, deadlines, and where to get information for when cabinet members cannot get answers to questions. On conference day, personal positional schedules would aid in less confusion and more direction from Co-Advisors and Co-Premiers would be beneficial.
Scheduling: In order to make the itinerary, it was suggested that all of cabinet should have sat down together and made the itinerary as a cabinet. This is because most positions have a major event that occurs during conference and they need to have their input into the itinerary for scheduling. With this, many errors could have been prevented within the itinerary. As well, transition times must be taken into account while making the itinerary, and a rule of thumb to remember is to have at least 10 minutes of transition time between each activity. Another suggestion was to request to have dinner later in the itinerary.
Database: A meeting will be set specifically with the 3-tions, the Co-Premiers, and Co-Advisors to discuss the database in-depth. Major points regarding the database are that the 3-tions require each school’s principal’s cell phone number, logistics and chaperones should be given a list of delegates that are leaving conference early and at the specified time, as well logistics and chaperones should be given access to the database to print off attendance sheets. Also, cabinet members are requested not to give 3-tions forms directly and to just let the school send them in, as it is difficult to enter delegates from a school into the database with only half of the forms and/or no cheque from the school. Pictures of forms sent in via email are not ideal either, as the payment would not be in at the same instance. Another point to remember is that one 3-tion must stay in Rosaria at all times during conference. If a school tends to send in forms late, often Abe will reach out if asked to inquire about forms.
Preparation/Training: A suggestion for next year is to hold a turnover meeting with this year’s cabinet and the incoming cabinet for the next year. If possible, alumni should come to more meetings, as well as help out more throughout the year with their past experience in various positions on cabinet. As well, past members of cabinet could begin a “mentorship” program within each position to help out the new incoming cabinet member throughout the year. In regards to turnover packages, sections that should be included in each one are “On Conference Day,” relaying the basic outline of what the position should be doing during conference, and “Night Before,” explaining (in general) what should be done before or on the night before conference.
Open Spectrum Room: In general, having the open spectrum room is a good idea. However, parents tend to care about separate “gender” specified rooms, some people may have religious beliefs and care, and some people may have specific past experiences and care about staying in specific spectrum rooms. However, there are people that will take advantage of the system put in place for sleeping, and there were people who took advantage during conference. During one instance, two masculine spectrum specified delegates requested to sleep in the feminine spectrum room because their friends were sleeping there, and this situation put the Head Chaperones, Jules, and Quinn in an uncomfortable situation in which they had to make a quick decision and risk putting delegates in a disadvantageous and uncomfortable situation. During another instance, a group of both feminine and masculine specified spectrums slept in the open spectrum room together due to the fact that they’re friends; not because any of them felt uncomfortable sleeping with a large group, nor because they did not feel comfortable sleeping in either of the other rooms. Due to this situation, delegates sleeping in the open spectrum room for their own personal reasons may have felt uneasy. A solution to the situation would be to have two sleeping areas, a masculine spectrum room, and a feminine spectrum room, and tell delegates at the opening ceremonies to speak to a cabinet member directly if they have an issue with either of those rooms, and they could be placed in the open spectrum room. Another solution is to have boxes for delegates to check off on the registration forms ahead of time in order to analyze the situation before conference time. A problem with that solution is that a guardian may not know which gender that the delegate identifies with, but the NSSSA must abide by the gender that the guardian has signed off for in that case; however, the situations must be taken case-by-case. Another solution suggested were to have the largest room be the open spectrum room with two smaller masculine and feminine spectrum rooms for those uncomfortable sleeping in the largest room for any reason. However, this sleeping situation could lose schools or delegates as guardians or schools may be uncomfortable with that sleeping situation. As the organization grows, new filters for sleeping will be facilitated and the decisions people make in regards to sleeping areas will be easier to make.
Advisors: Speaking to different advisors, Mary learned that advisors would like to know what delegates are doing at conference. A suggestion was to hold an advisors retreat, similar to a skill building retreat, before conference.
Remembrance Day Ceremony: The statement for Indigenous Land Recognition was not read and the original version of “In Flander’s Fields” read in French was not the correct French translation. There was an issue with calling the ceremony a “celebration” as we were not celebrating the war, and there was an email regarding the Remembrance Day Ceremony/Commemoration that was not acknowledged.
Motion to Adjourn: Becca motioned to adjourn the meeting at 22:05 and Annabelle seconded said motion. Motion passed, meeting adjourned.
Date of Next Meeting: TBD