Warmest welcome from Jennifer Birch-Jones (pronouns: she/her/hers) and Benoît Gauthier (he/him/his), co-chairs of the 2021 (Canadian Evaluation Society (CES) Conference! We are excited to invite you to join us in Ottawa (Ontario, Canada) at the Shaw Centre, from May 10 to 12, 2021, with pre-conference workshops taking place on May 8 and 9.

The CES annual conference should be a key moment in the lives of Canadian evaluators. It is a time to take stock, to reflect, to debate, to challenge, to learn, to connect, and to reconnect. In 2021, we will also be welcoming evaluators from Latin America and from the United States to enrich our conversations, and expand our connections through renewing acquaintances and making new ones with our evaluation colleagues.

Evaluation utilization has become the ultimate value for many evaluators who consider that evaluation information has no purpose if it does not get used. But this position has been challenged by evaluators who emphasize process over product, by those who wonder how evaluation gets used and at what cost, and by those who question whose interests are served by evaluation information. Evaluation utilization is complex and nuanced, but we are hoping that our understanding of it will be enhanced as a result of the CES 2021 Conference.

Since early 2018 when we started organizing this conference, we have wanted it to be values-driven. Building on the great work done by the CES 2019 Organizing Committee, our values are:

  • bilingualism because Canada is a country with two official languages, English and French, and the CES itself is an officially bilingual organization;
  • equity, diversity, and inclusion whereby we recognize that not everyone starts from the same place and that advantages and barriers exist;
  • active reconciliation which allows us to actively acknowledge and support the self- determination of Indigenous people and take further steps to explore what meaningful reconciliation will look like; and,
  • environmental sustainability comprising our commitment to sustainable practices that will minimize the environmental footprint of our conference, with an objective of a carbon-neutral conference and support to the sustainability of the community in which the conference is taking place.

We believe that by living these values, the CES 2021 Conference can serve as a model for a values-based approach to planning and organizing ground-breaking conferences going forward.

We are very excited about the CES 2021 Conference and very much hope you will join us for the evaluative conversations in Ottawa from May 8-12, 2021.