Western Regional Meeting

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

May 24 to 25, 2023

Thank you to our colleagues at this year’s host institutions, Saskatchewan Polytechnic and the University of Saskatchewan, for their leadership and contribution to advancing international education in the province. 

About This Event

Saskatchewan Polytechnic and the University of Saskatchewan hosted CBIE’s 2023 Western Regional Meeting. This event focused on the future of international education through a series of sessions, roundtables and networking activities.

CBIE would like to thank Saskatchewan Polytechnic, the University of Saskatchewan, and each of the organizing committee members for their hard work. We would also like to thank the presenters and participants, as this event cannot be successful without your participation.

Why Attend This Event?

  • Network with international education professionals.
  • Hear from thought-leaders on important IE topics. 
  • Participate in Q&A with sector stakeholders from Canada and the world. 

Who Will Be There?

  • International education practitioners and leaders from K-12 schools, colleges, institutes and universities.
  • Corporate partners and association colleagues.
  • Federal and provincial government officials.


Rate: $150 per person
The cost includes the Gala on Wednesday, May 24th.


The program at a glance is subject to change. All sessions will take place in Hall B, unless otherwise indicated.

07:30 – 09:00: Registration (Hall B entrance)

08:30 – 9:00: Refreshments

09:00 - 9:20: Opening Ceremony

CBIE Western Regional Meeting Opening Welcome by
Day 1 Facilitator:  Thevi Pather, Associate Vice President, Saskatchewan Polytechnic

  • Opening Prayer and Blessing by Elder Rick Daniels
  • Greetings MLA Marv Friesen, Government of Saskatchewan, on behalf of the Honourable Gordon Wyant, Minister of Advanced Education
  • Greetings from the Presidents:
    • Saskatchewan Polytechnic President Dr. Larry Rosia
    • University of Saskatchewan President Dr. Peter Stoicheff
    • Canadian Bureau for International Education President & CEO Ms. Larissa Bezo

09:20 - 11:20: Consultation for Canada’s Next International Education Strategy

Moderators: Larissa Bezo, CBIE; Dr. Meghna Ramaswamy, USask; and Thevi Pather, Sask Polytech

As part of the consultations for the next iteration of the International Education Strategy, Global Affairs Canada (GAC) will host this targeted consultation session to solicit feedback from interested stakeholders.  GAC officials will host the session, which will be structured as an open roundtable discussion.  The basis for discussion will be the thirteen papers (pillars, thematics, and sectoral) which GAC released in early March as part of the official launch of the consultations.  The papers can be accessed on the event websitePlease note this session will be recorded.

11:20 – 11:30: Break

11:30 - 12:15: Opening Keynote Address

Geo-political Tensions and their Impact on Post-secondary Education

By Dr. Kenneth Christie, Royal Roads University

Moderator: Thevi Pather, Sask Polytech

Geo-political tensions following Covid-19 have increased challenges for all walks of life. This presentation will specifically focus on how these tensions and challenges have impacted higher education in research, teaching, and mobility across Canada and beyond.

12:15 – 13:15: Lunch

13:15 - 14:15: Concurrent Session l (Hall B)

Challenges & Opportunities in International Enrolment Conversion using the SEM Approach

Moderator: Vanessa Leon, International Partnerships Specialist, International Office, USask

International students may convert to enrolment differently, depending on where they are from and what they wish to achieve out of their study journey. How do higher education international enrolment teams maximize their conversions by utilizing limited resources?  Strategic Enrolment Management (SEM) can be an effective tool for achieving international enrolment targets and improving conversion rates for enrolment.  In this session, we will discuss the touch points and pain points in the enrolment funnel, and the different SEM practices each institution has adopted to navigate the challenges and opportunities during the international enrolment process.

Panellists include:

  • Courtney Schroeder, Manager, Student Recruitment, USask
  • Jessie Chen, Manager, International Recruitment & Marketing, URegina
  • Annie Fu, Director, International Enrolment, Sask Polytech
  • Diana Chang, Senior Partner Relations Manager, ApplyBoard

13:15 - 14:15: Concurrent Session Il (Terrace)

How Governments, Institutions and Industry can Work Together to Address Labour Market Needs

Moderator: Jill Zimmer, Government of Saskatchewan, Ministry of Advanced Education
Executive Director, International Education & Jurisdictional Initiatives

This panel will provide a case study of how different government ministries (Advanced Education and Health), the post-secondary sector (Saskatchewan Polytechnic) and industry (the Saskatchewan Health Authority) are collaborating to find solutions for a particular labour market need (in this case, nurses).  The panellists will explore the issue from their differing perspectives and culminate in a discussion on the role that international education can play on a broader stage through partnerships, program, and curriculum development.

Panellists include:

  • Cynthia Barbour, Director, Learning Pathways Unit, Ministry of Advanced Education
  • Anna Ditablan, Director, Partnerships and Workforce Planning, Ministry of Health
  • Shelley Lofstrum, Workforce Planning and Employment Strategies, Saskatchewan Health Authority
  • Christa Maclean, Dean, School of Nursing, Saskatchewan Polytechnic

14:15 - 15:15: Anti-Racism in Higher Education: Lessons Learned

Moderator: Charlene Brown, A/Manager, Teaching & Learning, USask

In June 2020, the President of the University of Saskatchewan, Dr. Peter Stoicheff, made a commitment that all senior leaders would actively participate in anti-racism/anti-oppression education.  Liz Duret and Kelly McInnes, along with subject matter expert Dr. Verna St. Denis, were asked to deliver on this commitment.  In this presentation Liz and Kelly will focus on: their personal journey with this work, the tensions that exist between equity, diversity and inclusion, interculturalism, and anti-racism/anti-oppression, the approach(es) they took, and the lessons they learned along the way.

Panellists include:

  • Liz Duret, Senior Diversity and Inclusion Consultant, USask
  • Kelly McInnes, Director, Talent Management and Strategic Enablement, USask

15:15 – 15:30: Break

15:30 - 16:30: Keynote Address

The SDGs and Internationalization: Rethinking the Role of Higher Education

By Dr. Martin Gaal, Professor, Department of Political Studies, College of Arts and Sciences, University of Saskatchewan.

Moderator: Derek Tiessen, International Partnerships Specialist, USask

This presentation revolves around the need to shift from passive to active learning in Higher Education to better prepare students for the contemporary job market.  Moreover, not only is it necessary for Higher Education to adapt, but in so doing, it is possible for Higher Education to facilitate meaningful solutions to issues like climate change and global equity.

18:30 - 21:00: Evening Reception & Gala (Riverview Room, Remai Modern)

Gala Emcee:  Pirita Mattola, Acting Senior Director, Strategic Enrolment Management
Teaching, Learning & Student Experience, University of Saskatchewan

We are pleased to present an unforgettable Reception & Gala event.  The evening will include cultural performances, networking with colleagues from across western Canada, and fine dining.  This not-to-be-missed evening will be hosted at the Remai Modern, which is situated along the banks of the South Saskatchewan River where participants will enjoy the breath-taking views of the riverscape.

Dress Code: Business Casual

08:30 – 09:00: Light Breakfast

09:00 - 09:05: Welcome Remarks

By Day Two Facilitator: Dr. Meghna Ramaswamy, Director, International Office, University of Saskatchewan

09:05 - 10:30: Immigration Update with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)

In this session, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will present information and updates pertaining to the International Student Program (ISP) and related programs and processes (e.g. PGWP), as they have been impacted by the evolving status of immigration policy and processes in Canada.  Panellists will answer questions that have been submitted and curated by CBIE’s community, as well as general thematic questions from participants.  The session will be moderated by CBIE’s Immigration Advisory Committee (IAC).

Upon completion of this session, participants should be able to:

  • Understand the major impacts of key Canadian immigration changes for both international students and institutions to date;
  • Consider how to prepare their institution and/or advising practice for current changes and potential upcoming changes;
  • Get connected to people and resources to better understand the details of specific immigration changes and continue the conversation with peers; and
  • Network with fellow immigration practitioners from institutions across Canada and share best practices.

Panellists include:

  • Diana Jamal-Samborski, International Student Specialist, University of Calgary
  • Jean Lomas, Manager, International Student Advising, University of Victoria and Immigration Advisory Committee Co-chair

Presenters include:

  • Monica Mavrak, Assistant Director, International Students Program Policy, IRCC
  • Janine Denis Gonzalez, Senior Policy Analyst, International Students Program Policy, IRCC
  • Cathy Davis, Senior Policy and Program Advisor, IRCC 

This session has been approved by CICC for 1.5 hours of CPD.

10:30 – 10:45: Break

10:45 - 12:00: Concurrent Session l (Hall B)

Creating Welcoming Communities for International Students:  The Role of Post-Secondary Institutions, Settlement Agencies and Municipalities

Moderator:  Pirita Mattola, A/Senior Director, Strategic Enrolment Management
Teaching, Learning & Student Experience, University of Saskatchewan

International students come to our cities to attend post-secondary institutions from many countries and for different reasons. Many spend the greater part of their time on campus and yet on every survey we hear “We would like more of a chance to connect with community”. This raises many questions:

  • What are post-secondary institutions, settlement agencies and municipalities doing to help international students connect to their new communities?
  • Are we looking at the ‘whole’ person or just the academic side of who they are?
  • What defines “an international student”?
  • What are some best practices and what are the gaps we need to address?

The panellists will attempt to answer some of these questions and raise more to challenge the status quo of the work we are doing.

Panellists include:

  • Stephanie Shyluk, Manager, provincial Settlement Services, Saskatoon Open Door Society
  • April Sora, Immigration, Diversity and Inclusion Consultant, City of Saskatoon
  • Mirjana Mandaric, Senior International Education Officer and RISIA, USask

10:45 - 12:00: Concurrent Session Il (Terrace)

Navigating GSO from Proposal to Implementation Through an Indigenous and EDI Lens

Moderator: Megan Fillatre, Graduate Programs and Internationalization Specialist, College of Education, University of Saskatchewan

This session will focus on bringing together stakeholders across the institutions to prepare funding proposals for Global Skills Opportunities. We will showcase targeted approaches in developing international mobility opportunities and incorporating in-house expertise and resources to increase the participation of Indigenous students and students from low-income socio-economic backgrounds and/or with disabilities. Examples will be shared to illustrate the student recruitment and implementation strategies.

Panellists include:

  • Ms. Le Li (International Senior Specialist, International Office, University of Saskatchewan)
  • Ms. Mila Sokolyanskaya, Global Education Coordinator, Global Education and Partnerships, Northern Alberta Institute of Technology)
  • Ms. Kiela Caudillo (Project Coordinator, International Projects and Partnerships, Saskatchewan Polytechnic)

12:00 – 13:00: Lunch

13:00 - 13:30: Closing Remarks


  • Larissa Bezo, CBIE
  • Dr. Meghna Ramaswamy, USask
  • Thevi Pather, Sask Polytech
  • Pirita Mattola, USask

13:30: CBIE Western Regional Meeting 2023 Ends

Thank You to Our Generous Sponsors

Thank You to Our Organizing Committee

Andrea Eccleston, University of Saskatchewan
Angela Wojcichowsky, Saskatchewan Polytechnic
Charlene Brown, University of Saskatchewan
Ev Slavin-Scharback, Saskatchewan Polytechnic
Meghna Ramaswamy, University of Saskatchewan
Pirita Mattola, University of Saskatchewan
Sophie Jodouin, Canadian Bureau for International Education
Thevi Pather, Saskatchewan Polytechnic