Activate is a digital leadership lab, held at Hollyhock on Cortes Island, BC. More than a conference, Activate is an intensive experience that brings together organizational leadership and digital specialists from coast to coast to coast to learn, strategize, and build long term progressive digital capacity in Canada. 

Activate exists to fight back. To build the movement infrastructure we need to go toe to toe with the right wing and their allies. Because here is the simple truth as we see it, when it comes to technology, digital organizing, and online content: we are losing. But we aren’t losing because we don’t have smart and committed people, we do.  We are losing because the other side started investing in digital infrastructure, strategy, and most of all people decades ago. And we didn’t.

Global networks funded by the Koch Brothers, or the Manning Institute have  trained and developed conservative organizers and strategists over decades. Meanwhile, the Trump campaign outspends the entire Democratic primary field on social media advertising. In Australia, the right wing was able to win re-election on the back of carefully cultivated online communities stoked by engaging non-political content creation.  And here in Canada, social democrats were outspent on social media by orders of magnitude by the big parties, all the while lagging behind on the type of technology infrastructure needed to run truly innovative campaigns in 338 ridings. 

Activate is for progressives. Social democrats. Labour unions. Political parties. Advocacy organizations and non-profits. Agencies and technologists. Communicators. Organizers and campaigners. 

At Activate you can expect:

  • A community of progressive leaders, strategists and campaigners from across Canada, the US and around the world.
  • Critical engagement with the boldest ideas, and the most compelling challenges progressives face when it comes to digital, tech and culture.
  • Training sessions on best practice digital strategy and tactics.
  • Exposure to some of the brightest progressive minds of our generation, some fresh from the 2020 Democratic Primary campaign.
  • Access to a growing network of like minded progressive digital practitioners from around the world. Opportunities for continuing mentorship and engagement after the Activate finishes.


Some of the sessions we’ve run at Activate include:

  • How the BC Government Employees Union built a digital toolkit for member engagement.
  • Video Bootcamp: Shooting and Editing Video for Social Media.
  • Digital Analytics: Measuring What Matters
  • Electoral Justice & The Intersection of Racial Justice and Elections in the US
  • Building a Cyborg Army: Using Relational Organizing Tools To Run Offline to Online Field Programs.
  • Digital Campaigning on Facebook: History and Future.
  • Digital Persuasion: How Australians leverage digital media to activate supporters and change minds and votes.
  • Building an Indigenous owned digital agency.

Organizations that have participated in Activate: 

PSAC, BCGEU, PIPSC, Canadian Labour Congress, HEU, BC Federation of Labour, CUPE BC, UFCW 1518, National Association of Federal Retirees, SEIU, Air Canada Pilots Association, Squamish Nation, David Suzuki Foundation, Ontario New Democratic Party,  BC New Democratic Party, Organize BC, Dogwood Initiative, Midwives Association of BC,, Iron and Earth, Progress Alberta, Washington State Democratic Party, Point Blank Creative, Pacific Digital Strategies, Progress Toronto, New/Mode, Engineers Without Borders Canada, Planned Parenthood Action.

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