Stories we loved in 2017

Over the course of 2017, our network has witnessed and created hundreds of fantastic stories at both national and community levels. Below, we have collected some of our favourites from Canada’s 150th year.

National conference explores gaps in inclusion, diversity and belonging

Community foundation leaders from across Canada and around the world gathered in Ottawa-Gatineau for Belong 2017 — a national conference that explored what it means to build communities where we all belong. Inspiring speakers such as Cindy Blackstock, Natan Obed, Desmond Cole and Senator Ratna Omidvar headlined an incredible three days of learning and connection, while examining the steps we still need to take towards inclusion, diversity and the future of Canada.

Vital Signs shines a spotlight on belonging in Canada

After more than a decade as a national program, Vital Signs continues to gather momentum and is quickly gaining international attention. Community foundations in Medicine Hat, Northwestern Alberta and Whistler used Vital Signs to look more closely at how our institutions, policies and systems sometimes create barriers to belonging. Community Foundations of Canada also wrapped up a three-year exploration of belonging, helping us better understand that inclusion is still a work in progress for many Canadian communities. In all, 33 foundations participated in Vital Signs this year with several set to release reports and host conversations in early 2018.


Truth & Reconciliation journey beginning in more communities

This year saw a greater commitment from community foundations to engage more meaningfully in the process of seeking truth and reconciliation. Across our movement, more than 25 foundations have become signatories to the philanthropic community’s Declaration of Action and are moving forward in an atmosphere of understanding, respect and reciprocity. From Witness Blanket exhibitions and conversations about Canada’s colonial history to Vital Signs features and grants to Indigenous-led projects, truth and reconciliation were a major focus of our efforts in 2017, and this work is only just beginning.

Community Fund for Canada’s 150th unlocks the power of our movement

To mark Canada’s 150th, an incredible 175 community foundations or 92 per cent of our network took part in a national granting initiative of unprecedented scale. Through the Community Fund for Canada’s 150th, foundations across the country matched funding from the Government of Canada to grant $16M to over 2,100 youth-led, Indigenous-led and community-led projects as diverse as the country itself. These projects touched over 400 communities in every province and territory and mobilized more than 110,000 volunteers. By mobilizing the leadership and resources of our entire network, we created a scalable infrastructure for localized grantmaking and impact like never before.

Community foundations support young leaders through educational Arctic voyage

This summer, nine community leaders embarked on a voyage with Students On Ice to learn about Inuit ways of life and the effects of climate change on the Arctic region.

Over the course of 16 days participants travelled from Resolute Bay, Nunavut to the shores of Greenland, taking part in hands-on workshops and field trips with Elders, researchers, artists and teachers from across Canada. Among the participants were young leaders supported by community foundations in Victoria, Clayoquot Sound, Grande Prairie, Edmonton, and Winnipeg.

Alliance 150 marks Canada’s 150th and creates a legacy for the future

Alliance 150 continued to engage Canadians in the country’s 150th anniversary of Confederation, amplifying the thousands of projects and events taking place from coast to coast to coast. With support from the Government of Canada, the Alliance hosted and supported dozens of events across the country and shared inspiring stories highlighting sesquicentennial activity throughout 2017. With a national network of 2,500+ members, the Alliance will pivot in 2018 to look towards Canada’s future, and harness the ‘power of together’ to advance the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals at the local and national level.

Queen Elizabeth Scholarships offer young leaders transformative learning experiences

Through the Queen Elizabeth Scholars program we continue to build a global community of young leaders who are connected to community foundations and thinking innovatively about the future of our planet. The scholarships offer transformative academic, professional and cross-cultural experiences to students solving for some of today’s most pressing global challenges: climate change, poverty, clean energy, and food insecurity. Since its inception in 2012, the Queen Elizabeth Scholars program has funded over 70 projects and engaged more than 1,000 Scholars from 36 Canadian universities.

Community foundations get behind impact and mission-related investing

Impact and mission-related investing has recently been gaining more and more traction within Canadian philanthropy. This year dozens of community foundation leaders from across the country fed into the creation of a new Impact Investing Guidebook for the sector. The Edmonton Community Foundation is a great example of an organization breaking new ground. With the establishment of a new Community Development Corporation, the foundation is working towards solving income inequality and housing problems through new investment approaches that align with their mission and values.

Philanthropy rallies around the Sustainable Development Goals

In working to tackle entrenched poverty and unemployment, or improve access to education or housing, community foundations are already doing the work needed to achieve the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals. The SDGs provide a framework that community foundations can use to connect what’s happening locally to a global agenda for action. Victoria Foundation, for instance, has mapped all of their Vital Signs findings to specific Sustainable Development Goals to help highlight the local relevance of global issues.

Together we realized a vision to build a smarter, more caring Canada

Inspired by former Governor General of Canada David Johnston, Smart & Caring Communities has been a catalyst for our movement to connect the country through the creation of 24 new community foundations and 82 community funds since 2011. From 68 per cent coverage only six years ago, today more than 90 per cent of Canadian communities have access to a community foundation with plans in place to reach the remaining 10 per cent in places where we need more connection, particularly in Canada’s Northern and Arctic regions.

Cover image by Goh Iramoto for the Canadian Canoe Museum of the project Connected by Canoe, heading toward Belong 2017.

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