Hayley Lapalme: The more things change, the more they are the same

by C:F Team on 12th April, 2017 at 1:42 PM CEST

Five years ago, 2012 C:F Summit participants were able to be part of an astounding TEDxBled event within the summit program. Moreover, some of them were right there on stage, sharing their amazing stories how they make a change in their community. As the speeches went on, everybody was clear this was one of those peak moments of the summit. The group hugs following the TEDx were the inevitable moment that only affirmed the world needs more people like these!

At the TEDxBled we were compelled to also hear the story of Hayley Lapalme from Canada, that went under the title How I Fell in Love with Hospital Food?. Five years fast forward in time, we have reached out to Hayley and asked her to answer few questions to share with all of us (before we move to the interview, check the TEDxBled speech here

Hayley at the TEDxBled, 18.03.2012

CF: Looking back five years to March 2015, who was Hayley before she came to Slovenia and delivered this amazing and touching TEDx speech in Bled? Some of us were virtually brought to tears in their eyes.

Hayley: That was a special moment for me; my Grand-Papa had just passed away and that TEDx talk was really a way to recognize the influence he had on me at the moment I was really beginning to find my voice in my work. But I actually cringe now a bit when someone brings up that talk - I am shouting in my head, Hayley, don’t look under the rug!

We have a french expression, ‘plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose’ (the more things change, the more they are the same). The girl giving that talk is the same one here today. Unselfconscious when lost in a moment... often to a fault! There has been a lot of change over the last five years - but also a lot of continuity. 

I am doing the same work I described in my TEDx talk, working with institutions as agents of systems change, now it just looks a bit different - a bigger scale, which is exciting - leading a fellowship program for healthcare innovators reconnecting food and health. It has been incredibly rewarding. I have my dream job and I work with the most incredible people. 

But I think I debate myself more often now. The further I got into this work, the more I question whether institutions like hospitals can be leaders for transformative systems change. I see lots of evidence on both sides, and I think it sharpens how I think about the work we have ahead. For instance, the girl on stage five years ago didn’t see how food system work was linked up with work around reconciliation with Indigenous people in Canada, but now I can’t separate the two.

Hayley with a most amazing gang of C:F-ers just before the start of C:F Summit 2013

CF: How have CF Summit 2012 helped you develop professionally? Do you have specific moments you remember that you think were important and instrumental as per your work? 

Hayley: Preparing for the second Summit, there were a lot of joyful moments between Faisal, Jatin, Damla, Samuel, Bistra, Dan and I as we worked remotely on plans. Coordinating across four continents alone was a victory - to see each other’s faces pop on Skype was so special! But other times, tensions were high. It was probably one of the first experiences I had working with a team that held profoundly different paradigms on desirable process and outcomes. I think we all learned about empathy, power, respect, and patience - with Nadya and Andreja in the wings mentoring us. 

We put each other through a lot! And I think the quality of the trust that emerged from it is the real testament of the growing we did. It was a real gift to work with such gracious peers and mentors - and I am grateful every time one of their names shows up in my inbox. Today, usually this is Stefan, and I thank him silently every time he makes a digital appearance to keep this incomparable constellation of people connected.  

Dan and Hayley leading activities at the C:F Summit academy 2013

CF: Where is the journey taking you today?

Hayley: I am doing my small bit to build toward a future where what we believe, we (are able and accountable to) practice -- and to have this be reflected in our institutions. From our hospitals to our languages - I want a future where our institutions reflect us all, are accessible to us all, and serve us all. Working on Nourish in Canada is part of that journey. 

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