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The Stronger Together Awards were created in 2019, marking CCEDNet’s 20th anniversary, with the intention of annually recognizing and honouring past and present CCEDNet members who have advanced Community Economic Development by working to strengthen and advance sustainable and equitable local economies or made outstanding contributions to CCEDNet.
The first two years of the Stronger Together Awards celebrated individuals who had received honorary lifetime memberships over the years or had contributed long standing leadership on the Board. Starting in 2021, however, we implemented an open call for nominations from CCEDNet members, which led to five winners being selected in 2021 and another three in 2022.
This year, we followed the same process again, with a call for nominations being issued at the beginning of April. It is a great pleasure to share our winners here. Congrats!
Quint has been serving Saskatoon’s core neighbourhoods for over 25 years and has been involved in CCEDNet since the beginning. Most recently, they’ve been one of the organizational members contributing to our Government Relations project, working collaboratively to increase our network presence and power with the federal government but way back in 2008, they were also the local host of the National CED Conference.
The work and impact of Quint is a real life example of an ideal community. They say “the CED approach has the potential to build healthier communities – where people regain some measure of control over their day-to-day lives and where human and local needs take precedence over distant and corporate needs”.
This approach that so deeply resonates with CCEDNet’s Theory of Change is proving impactful. In a community managing through deep disparities and inequality, they have housed over 2600 people, created 8 housing co-ops, and built or renovated over 200 community owned housing units. They’ve developed many social enterprises and community organizations, including Build Up Saskatoon, Station 20 West, and the Boxcar Cafe, employing folks facing barriers to good jobs. And they know that a resilient community is more than houses and jobs – it’s also one that is joyful and connected with community events and arts & cultural programming.
Alterna Savings and their Community Impact team are the first financial institution to receive a Stronger Together Award! Alterna was one of the first credit unions in Canada to offer micro-loans through the Community Microfinance Program. The program also offers wrap-around support for underserved entrepreneurs with one-on-one consultations, financial education, tools, and workshops. Since its inception, the program has disbursed millions in loans and helped change the lives of thousands of underrepresented people and their families.
More than a loan, Alterna differentiates our work in the community space by providing the educational support individuals and organizations need to thrive. Through Alterna’s Community Financial Education Program, Alterna develops and delivers financial education programs, resources, and supports tailored to the specific needs of underserved and underrepresented individuals, organizations, and communities.
Alterna’s recognized expertise in the field of microfinancing is what led them to be part of a team tasked with developing the Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund with the Federal Government. Alterna was a strong advocate for a microloan pilot, to provide support for Black entrepreneurs looking for loans to be part of the program – because, in Alterna’s experience, this was a key gap for Black entrepreneurs. Working in partnership with the Federation of African Canadian Economics (FACE) and the Government of Canada, Alterna saw the launch of the Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund Microfinance Pilot Program, which will help to break down some of the systemic barriers faced by Black entrepreneurs.
Alterna continues to build on its reputation in microfinance and on long-standing partnerships within the affordable housing and non-profit sectors. Considerable effort has been made to strengthen existing and develop new partnerships and working relationships. The Community Impact Team at Alterna today truly shows how community impact can be significantly strengthened through partnerships and working together with the community to achieve the desired impacts.
Alterna is not just your ordinary financial institution. They have been dedicated to providing innovative financial solutions while prioritizing the well-being of the communities they serve.
The Green Action Centre (GAC) is an important community-based non-profit in Manitoba. Their primary areas of work are green commuting, composting and waste reduction, sustainable living, and resource conservation. Their work spans from helping individuals and communities take climate action, all the way through to policy and systems change work.
Compost Winnipeg is a social enterprise of GAC. They saw an opportunity to provide a much-needed service, and generate revenue for the Centre, while preventing waste and greenhouse gas emissions. Compost Winnipeg was launched in 2016 with a single pickup truck for collection, and has now grown to a five truck fleet serving most areas of the city, and diverting over 70,000 kilograms of organic waste from the landfill every month!
Green Action Centre is a long-time CCEDNet member. They have a new ED, and numerous new staff members leading exciting projects. They exemplify new leadership within an established CED organization, bringing in fresh ideas and perspectives.
CCEDNet staff in Manitoba decided to nominate GAC and Compost Winnipeg because of their strong participation across CCEDNet Manitoba’s programming this year:
GAC staff have actively participated in the MB Member Meeting, Policy Summit, member meet ups, and in strategic conversations about the Network’s work in Manitoba. GAC staff frequently attend MB Learns events, have put together workshops at the Gathering in recent years, and have had a staff member on the Gathering Design Team.
Compost Winnipeg has been involved in Social Procurement advocacy work at the City of Winnipeg, and supported in further advocacy work at the City to adopt a curbside composting program. GAC’s impact in Winnipeg and Manitoba on environmental education, action and policy change is immense.
The word “queer” contains multitudes. In the face of rigid, narrow, and individualistic social structures, queerness can convey fluidity, fullness, and collectivity. As a verb, “to queer” can mean to dismantle exclusionary practices in order to foster not only safety, but joy.
This Pride, we celebrate queerness in all of its radical potential, and we ask: what might it mean to queer community economic development (CED)?
Some might say that CED has always been queer. After all, it’s an alternative economic model based upon collective care. Plus, many CED strategies have deep roots in queer and trans communities, such as mutual aid and housing co-ops.
Unfortunately, these connections to queerness do not make the CED sector inherently safe or friendly. Much of the anti-2SLGBTQ+ exclusion present in the mainstream world of work pervades the social and solidarity economy as well. And with rainbow capitalism and pinkwashing on the rise, corporations and governments that pledge support to the 2SLGBTQ+ community often end up funneling resources to corporatized nonprofits, which does little to improve the the lives of queer folks who are BIPOC, poor/ working class, disabled, and/ or grappling with other forms of systemic oppression. Indeed, a lack of institutional funding and support continues to plague many organizations that provide vital frontline services to 2SLGBTQ+ folks.
These issues are manifestations of the broader systems of oppression targeting queer folks in Canada and around the world. However, an exclusive focus on the harms caused by anti-2SLGBTQ+ persecution can perpetuate the “unhappy queers” trope and even risks pathologizing queer folks as damaged. As Dr Eve Tuck says in a letter to communities, educators, and researchers who work with Indigenous communities, a damage-based framework “reinforces and reinscribes a one-dimensional notion of [certain] people as depleted, ruined, and hopeless.”
Instead, Dr Tuck suggests that we bring desire into central focus: “Desire, yes, accounts for the loss and despair, but also the hope, the visions, the wisdom of lived lives and communities. Desire is involved with the not yet and, at times, the not anymore.”
What would it mean to explore and center queer desires – for pleasure and abundance, for solidarity and security – in all CED work? What would this reshape and reframe? And how might all of us incorporate queer liberation as fundamental to everything we do?
This piece was featured in CCEDNet’s June 2023 national newsletter. If you liked it, be sure to subscribe to our mailing list.
Originally published by Employment and Social Development Canada on May 29, 2023
Social purpose organizations, such as social enterprises, non-profits, charities and co‑operatives, are at the forefront of tackling Canada’s persistent social and environmental challenges, and they are key contributors to the Canadian economy. However, social purpose organizations face barriers and systemic biases that exist in the current finance ecosystem.
Today, the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, Karina Gould, officially launched the $755 million Social Finance Fund, which is a groundbreaking, long-term initiative to advance the growth of the social finance market in Canada. The Social Finance Fund is a foundational element to the Social Innovation and Social Finance Strategy, along with the Investment Readiness Program and the Social Innovation Advisory Council. Social innovation and social finance plays a fundamental role in tackling persistent challenges like access to affordable housing, food insecurity, and poverty.
By increasing access to flexible financing opportunities in the social finance market, the Social Finance Fund will help social purpose organizations grow, innovate, and enhance their social, economic, and environmental impacts. They will also extend the reach of social finance to underserved populations, sectors, and regions in Canada, including rural and remote communities and the North.
Through a rigorous, competitive and open process, three fund managers were selected to act as investment managers for the Social Finance Fund. They are:
The fund managers will receive $400 million over the next five years to invest, and are expected to leverage up to another $800 million in private investment to foster the market’s growth and long-term sustainability. This will provide investors with opportunities to engage in socially responsible investment and to direct their capital towards public good initiatives. Funds will be invested in existing or emerging social finance investors, which are financial entities that raise money from investors to make social finance investments, using innovative and complementary strategies to sustainably grow the social finance market and to expand flexible financing opportunities for social purpose organizations.
Fund managers will allocate a minimum of 35% of their investments into initiatives promoting greater social equity, including a minimum of 15% into initiatives promoting greater gender equality. Fonds de finance social – CAP Finance will invest specifically in Quebec, while Boann Social Impact and Realize Capital Partners will invest in the rest of Canada.
The Social Finance Fund will help Canada achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Canada is advancing the SDGs to build a more prosperous, healthy and sustainable future for all with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests. By increasing the accessibility and flexibility of financing opportunities in the social finance market, the Social Finance Fund will help social purpose organizations grow, launch new programs, and serve the critical needs of diverse communities in Canada.
“The Social Finance Fund is an innovative and first of its kind program. Through this program, the Government of Canada is investing in, and supporting the growth of, a vibrant social finance market. By investing in the Social Finance Fund, we are enabling social innovators to succeed, as they lead the way in building a more prosperous and inclusive economy that works for all Canadians. I look forward to seeing the positive impact the Social Finance Fund will have for Canadians and local communities. We are looking forward to working with the fund managers, our partners, and stakeholders on this historic milestone, which is a foundational element of the Social Innovation and Social Finance Strategy.”
– Karina Gould, Minister of Families, Children, and Social Development
“Through the Social Finance Fund, the Government of Canada is supporting social entrepreneurs and innovators who are tackling the toughest challenges we face as a society. It is about making their big homegrown ideas a reality, and working together to build a Canadian economy that works for everyone. As they access capital through this fund, I look forward to seeing them succeed in scaling the many positive impacts that they create for the benefit of communities across Canada!”
– Ryan Turnbull, Member of Parliament for Whitby
“Boann welcomes the roll-out of this much-anticipated initiative and to working with intermediaries, investors, and communities committed to expanding the reach of impact investment in Canada. Harnessing public, private and philanthropic capital, the ground-breaking Social Finance Fund will amplify efforts to foster more equitable and sustainable economic growth. In plain language, it’s about an economy that’s more green and less mean. It’s about investing in better results for all communities, about enhancing positive environmental and social outcomes. It is about thinking more long-term, more holistically, more ambitiously about achieving triple bottom line impact with capital.”
– Derek Ballentyne, CEO, Boann Social Impact
“Social finance is embedded in Quebec’s DNA. Based on principles of social equity, social finance has been and continues to be a response to the needs of the population. The Social Finance Fund will be an additional lever for social finance intermediaries that want to support collective projects led by social economy entrepreneurs and social purpose organizations whose activities have social, cultural and environmental impacts in addition to their economic impacts. Our organization is proud of the confidence that the Government has shown in us and proud to be contributing to strengthening and transforming the social finance market in Canada, specifically in Quebec.”
– Nathalie Villemure, President, Fonds de finance social – CAP Finance
“This is such a game changer for the social finance market. The government investment has enabled us to create a new fund that will set itself apart by prioritizing positive impact and generating market-rate financial returns, at scale. We are one big step closer to realizing the goal of financial markets creating outcomes that are highly beneficial to both investors and investees.”
– Kelly Gauthier, President, Rally Assets on behalf of Realize Capital Partners
The Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), a financial Crown corporation wholly-owned by the Government of Canada, is Canada’s only bank exclusively focused on providing support to Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SME’s) and entrepreneurs. As part of its mandate, the BDC is required to operate as a complementary lender in the market, offering loans, investments, and services that supplement or complete services available from private sector service providers.
The BDC Act requires that a review of the legislation be conducted on a regular basis. As part of the 2022-23 legislative review process, the BDC encouraged stakeholders to read a consultation paper and to complete a consultation survey.
The BDC has such a tremendous potential role to play in fostering community economic development across Canada. That’s why CCEDNet responded to the survey, encouraging the Bank to ensure that “social inclusion, economic equity, and justice for all leads its lending, investing, advisory services, and business practices.”
Read CCEDNet’s full response below. You can also read the response submitted by Buy Social Canada and the Social Enterprise Council of Canada (SECC).
CCEDNet’s response to the BDC survey is part of our public policy and government relations work. To learn more about these efforts, visit our People-Centered Economy Group page.
We are happy to share that earlier this year, CCEDNet registered for the 50 – 30 Challenge!
The 50 – 30 Challenge is an initiative between the Government of Canada, Canadian businesses and diversity organizations.
The goal of the program is to challenge Canadian organizations to increase the representation and inclusion of diverse groups within their workplaces, while highlighting the benefits of giving all Canadians a seat at the table.
The 50 – 30 Challenge asks that organizations aspire to two goals:
Many CCEDNet members have already registered for the challenge. Whether or not you’re a member, we encourage to register your organization, as well.
Check out the 50-30 Challenge website for more information including how to register and helpful links on implementing more diversity and inclusion at your organization!
Note: this piece originally appeared on the Ontario Nonprofit Network’s website. You can read the original piece here.
Community wealth building (CWB) means doing local economic development in a way that keeps resources local and distributes those resources equitably.
We all know it’s impossible to eliminate risk completely, but that doesn’t stop many boards from trying! While boards are required to be prudent and avoid unnecessary risk, it is important to recognize that the overriding duty of directors is to do what is necessary (including taking some risks) to pursue the nonprofit’s mission effectively. Once a board has determined an activity is necessary to furthering its mission, the question then becomes how to do it in a prudent way, not whether to do it.
Like any economic activity, CWB can come with a number of reasonable, unavoidable risks. From borrowing money, to purchasing from or investing in new partners, risks are a healthy part of nonprofits engaging in revenue generating activities and building community wealth. So when the board is faced with an opportunity to engage in CWB, it’s actually almost impossible to ask the question in the abstract “is this proposal too risky?” Strictly speaking, from a legal perspective, it makes more sense to first ask “Does this proposal advance our mission?” and only then ask, “if so, are the risks involved reasonable relative to the potential impact of this proposal?”
If part of our sector’s mission is to challenge systemic racism, colonialism, and other centuries old roots of contemporary problems, we need to be more open about what level of risk is reasonable in the pursuit of equity.
A board member could be forgiven for thinking “we’re a food bank not an economic development agency, this is simply not in our scope.” But as we’ve heard time and time again, the issues of food insecurity, economic disenfranchisement, gender-based violence, and other crises are intertwined. As articulated by Feed Ontario, the goal isn’t to operate a food bank but to end hunger.
This may come as a surprise but corporate and charity law actually have tools to help address the holistic and complex nature of our missions as nonprofits. Modern corporate and charitable purposes (also known as “objects”) are usually drafted in a broad way to allow for the widest flexibility to further the overriding mission of the organization. In fact, when it comes to charities, there is a centuries-old rule that requires courts to read purposes broadly to allow the underlying charitable intent to succeed.
There are many other examples of how modern nonprofit and charity law have developed to give boards wide legal power to do what is necessary to pursue their overriding mission. For example, previously, nonprofit corporations only had the legal powers given to them specifically in statute or their governing documents (showing a narrow conception of what was needed to pursue the nonprofit’s mission). Ontario’s Not-for-Profit Corporations Act gives Ontario nonprofits all the powers of a natural person, like you or me. This is a clear signal that modern nonprofits should be able to do whatever in the board’s judgment is best in the pursuit of the overriding mission (as long as it’s legal!).
In charity law, a doctrine has developed called the doctrine of “ancillary and incidental”, which allows charities to engage in activities, such as advocacy activities and business activities, as long as they support the overriding charitable mission.
And whether you are a poverty relief organization, an arts or culture collective, a settlement agency, or many other kinds of nonprofits, community wealth building is absolutely relevant to furthering your purpose.
This myth is false for two reasons. Firstly, there are many ways to support community wealth building without needing to earn a surplus (e.g. purchasing your catering or office supplies from a local social enterprise). Secondly, nonprofits are allowed to earn a surplus in a variety of ways.
Nonprofits are not allowed to earn a surplus and then distribute that surplus to directors or members as if they were shareholders. However, nonprofits can earn a surplus if it is calculated to go into a reasonable reserve, and charities can earn a surplus if the surplus results from:
When I say “reasonable reserve” you may think “3-6 months operating expenses.” But actually, a reasonable reserve can be quite a bit higher as it can include a capital reserve, operating expenses, and liabilities (e.g. changes to law or litigation). As long as you have a policy to clearly document the rationale for the amount of your reserve and your reasons are sound, you are, generally speaking, on solid footing. Once you have this reserve in place, nonprofits are entitled to make reasonable investment decisions which can be made in a way that supports community wealth.
Charities have a whole host of options and flexibility when it comes to revenue earning, as well as how they purchase and invest.
Nonprofits can work against the continued extraction of wealth from Indigenous, racialized, and other economically disenfranchised communities. Whether it’s a clinic choosing to buy or hire locally, a housing supplier procuring from co-ops, or a foundation seeding the funding for a community investment organization, there is no end to the way nonprofits can build wealth in a widely-held and democratic way.
Nonprofits and charities are allowed to engage in CWB even if it means earning a surplus or taking on reasonable risks, as long as it is in the service of their overarching purpose. They just need to question some widely held assumptions.
Disclaimer: The above is intended as general legal information not legal advice specific to your situation. What the law is in any given situation will vary but we hope we have shifted your question from a “yes/no” to a “how”.
For the Canadian CED Network, 2022 was a year to build power and momentum.
We worked with all levels of government to unlock vital resources for CED approaches to thrive. We helped CCEDNet members develop the knowledge and capacity needed to effectively pursue their missions. And we empowered the CED sector to engage communities across Canada in becoming more sustainable, equitable, and inclusive directors of their own futures.
Internally, we adopted a new organizational structure based upon our Theory of Change, and hired nine new team members to help execute our vision (including CCEDNet’s first-ever Director of Human Resources). Staff and board members gathered together for our first in-person retreat since before the Covid-19 pandemic began. And we continued on our internal learning journey around the principles of anti-oppression and collective liberation.
CCEDNet’s Policy Council updated our Policy Priorities to focus on the full implementation of the federal Social Innovation and Social Finance (SI/SF) Strategy, which can provide pathways to well-being for all.
We recruited four new members to renew the Policy Council, which gets its policy agenda and mandate from CCEDNet’s membership, representing thousands of community initiatives working with tens of thousands of community members in every part of the country.
The People-Centred Economy Group (which CCEDNet convenes monthly) organized a meeting with the federal Regional Development Agencies (Atlantic, Quebec, Prairies, BC, the North), and Employment and Social Development Canada on the SI/SF Strategy and the Investment Readiness Program (IRP).
We mobilized members and partners to advocate for $330M over five years in the 2023 Federal Budget to fully implement the SI/SF Strategy (12 Inclusive Innovation recommendations), which can bring together individual
Canadians, social purpose organizations, businesses, and governments to merge profit and purpose and address persistent social, economic, and environmental challenges.
CCEDNet continued to advocate for the launch of the Social Innovation Advisory Council (which was announced in February 2023 with CCEDNet Executive Director Mike Toye being named Chair).
We supported the engagement of members and partners as speakers at MP Ryan Turnbull’s Sustainable Finance Forum, held on Parliament Hill on November 2 & 3, 2022, which included eight events, over 60 speakers, and over 200 participants including parliamentarians from across the political spectrum. The Sustainable Finance Forum Report, which summarizes sessions and outlines key recommendations for consideration by parliamentarians, also illustrates well the number of CCEDNet members and SI/SF partners who participated, and the strong political support for this agenda.
CreateAction hosted two cohorts of youth work experience placements with 51 youths (82%) successfully completing their placements.
Throughout the 2022 cohorts, CreateAction hosted 23 peer learning sessions that not only facilitated learning for and between youth participants, but also fostered a sense of unity, belonging, and community for all youth participants. The learning sessions included topics such as: knowing your rights as an employee, maintaining trauma-Informed boundaries at work, youth leadership, financial literacy, career planning, and Indigenous CED.
Overall, our employers noted a positive experience with CreateAction. Here’s an excerpt from one of the employers, “I took a wild chance on [youth], and I am not regretting it now. Glad I did! She has evolved very quickly over just a few months. I’m so amazed at the power of mentoring. Every youth deserves a chance. Glad we’ve had the opportunity to serve alongside CreateAction!”
Synergia Transition and Resilience Climate Action Program (STARCAP)
CCEDNet launched the STARCAP program in partnership with Synergia Co-operative Institute and Athabasca University. The three-year program supports Canadian organizations in undertaking or strengthening long-term climate action in their communities in ways that advance community resilience and climate justice.
CCEDNet worked with three organizations from across Canada. The first cohort, known as our Community Partners, was SETSI (Ontario), BC Co-op Association (British Columbia) and New Dawn Enterprises (Nova Scotia), who participated in the program from Feb-Dec 2022.
SETSI reported that through its participation in the program: “Our community engagement work, activities and impact through the STARCAP project has raised awareness, established solidarity and positioned us well to advance climate action and justice work in Canada. We have collectively built community capacity, resilience and allyship amongst mainstream organizations, groups on the margins, and nascent initiatives across Canada.”
New Dawn Enterprises reported that STARCAP: “Strengthened our understanding of the climate change issue and its relationship to our evolving work in community economic development and enabled us to build stronger relationships with other local players seeking to address climate change in our community.”
STARCAP is designed as an iterative program with the experience of each cohort informing the design of the program for the next cohort. The feedback we received from the first cohort revealed both the strengths and weaknesses of the program, which led to an internal reflective process from the STARCAP team and set the stage for a stronger offering for the 2023 delivery.
The result of this process was a successful recruitment in Fall 2022 that led to the selection of seven Community Partners from across Canada, representing diverse geographies and identities, including BIPOC, Francophone, youth and diverse disability communities.
Work Integration Social Enterprise Research
In partnership with the Social Research and Demonstration Corporation, the Toronto Enterprise Fund and five Toronto based social enterprises, CCEDNet completed a five-year longitudinal study on the impacts of work integration social enterprises on people experiencing or at risk of homelessness. The results are a testament to the powerful role work integration social enterprises can play in transforming lives.
Community Data Program
CCEDNet’s Community Data Program continues to expand the library of infographics and dashboards provided to members, including updates to the Community Recovery Dashboard, a new Housing Solutions Lab dashboard and a range of supports for the analysis, visualization and use of community data.
Adopting Common Measures Community of Practice
CCEDNet launched the Adopting Common Measures Community of Practice (CoP) as part of the Adopting Common Measures Project delivered in collaboration with Social Innovation Canada. The CoP hosted two cohorts in 2022. Cumulatively, the CoP team facilitated 10 information sessions and 17 learning sessions on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the five essential practices that constitute the Common Foundations for effective impact measurement.
A total of 84% of the participants felt confident to apply their learning to their work as a result of their participation in the CoP, and 72.2% have stated applying their learning to their work before the end of their respective cohort.
Community Leadership Program
The Community Leadership Program entered its second year of online programming, hosting 5 Leading Through Change Sessions which engaged 90 participants to examine the qualities of an effective change leader and concrete paths towards organizational resiliency. CCEDNet also hosted three cohorts for the 6-day Leadership Intensive Program that supported 52 participants through 3 modules dedicated to leading and understanding oneself, leading and understanding others and leading an organization. Nearly half of the participants continued onwards attaining the International ILM accreditation “Award In Leadership”.
The Program has received a 98% recommendation rate to date. It has welcomed many regional, mid and top management leaders across the country from a wide range of social impact organizations, and it has ignited supportive and lasting peer-to-peer relationships.
We launched a completely overhauled version of the CCEDNet website in September. The new site is beautifully designed, easy to navigate, and thematically structured around the Theory of Change.
Over the course of the year, we sent out three bilingual communiqués to our members. These mailers continue to be some of our most popular communications materials – for example, the October communiqué had an open rate of 58.7% and an average click rate of 22.2%, compared to an industry average of 42.6% and 4.8%, respectively.
We continued to sharpen our practice of storytelling toward collective liberation, sending out bi-monthly national newsletters to nearly 4,000 subscribers, applying a CED lens to themes such as Black histories, local enterprise development, climate joy, economic reconciliation, and the biodiversity crisis.
National Membership Engagement
CCEDNet launched its first annual national member survey. This data informed important indicators for CCEDNet’s Theory of Change strategies and allowed us to create baselines for annual tracking. We gathered valuable data on member engagement as well as climate action and community integration within member work. The survey also provided us with deep insights into the efforts, goals, and needs of our membership. The survey data is invaluable for helping us amplify member impact and advance our Theory of Change.
At the 2022 Annual General Meeting, we were thrilled to celebrate the vital work of our fourth annual Stronger Together Award winners: Momentum, Spence Neighbourhood Association and Ryan O’Neil Knight.
The number of CCEDNet MB members dropped during the first years of the pandemic. However, in 2022, CCEDNet MB restored the size of its network to 90 members.
CCEDNet became the Administrative Partner for AB Seed, a collaborative of social enterprise and social finance leaders in Alberta. AB Seed hosted a Re-Convene event, bringing members of the local ecosystem together to hear from Diane Roussin and consider what is needed in Alberta.
AB Seed launched Namada, an online directory of resources for Albertan social enterprises which now has over 100 resources listed.
AB Seed was a community hub for the Social Enterprise World Forum, bringing local actors together to take in the international content and ground it with conversations about the field in Alberta.
Investment Readiness Program
We took on the role of partnership convener for the federal Investment Readiness Program, aiming to support the 27 program partners as a network of expertise grounded in inclusion, equity, and access.
CCEDNet sits on the Steering Committee of the Ontario Social Economy Roundtable.
Sarah Leeson-Klym delivered a presentation as part of a panel session during ONN’s Nonprofit Driven “Social financing 101: Learning the language and seizing the opportunity”.
We began development of a new way to connect at the regional level, with a plan to open a call for Regional Initiatives in early 2023.
Hi, everyone. Thank you to Elder Mae Louise, Michael and Karen for taking the time to share with us about their relationship to and experiences of joy. It is a real honour to be speaking alongside them today.
I’d like to note before I dig into this topic much further that my reflections and the way I communicate my own experiences are ever-changing. As I practice openness to learning, listening and adaptivity, I look forward to seeing how this topic continues to shift for me a month from now, a year from now, and hopefully beyond.
A large challenge I see us facing in the non-profit sector (which I include most community economic development work in) is a disconnect in the work we do to improve our communities and the way we do our work. This sector is made up of many changemakers who are experiencing burnout , apathy or are even furthering harm. This has led to what feels like a growing reputation of toxicity in non-profit working environments. People advocating for disability justice talk about how non-profit and community-building work often demands more energy from them than is possible or reasonable to give. Others talk about the problems around the glorification of work in the non-profit sector, and its similarity to the mainstream systems we’re critical of.
People in our sector are often moving from one organization to the next; staff retention is a challenge for many of us; and my experience tells me that this is not based on salaries and wages alone.
I have also seen many people and organizations that are working to shift and transform these problems, using work from activists such as Audre Lorde (The Master’s Tools will Never Dismantle the Master’s House) to ask the question: Are we actually replicating or upholding the same traits and characteristics of settler colonialism and racial capitalism that we’re trying to dismantle?
However, despite our challenges, we are still here. What keeps us here? This is a question I’ve spent the last number of years investigating for myself. The reason I keep asking this question is because I have been tempted to leave community work many times, and I so deeply believe in the potential of this sector to make the necessary change and movement our communities need to survive and thrive. Every time I wanted to leave, this question [what keeps us here] would come up. While the answer has shifted many times, something has always kept me here.
At first, it was a sense of duty to do this work. It’s my duty, I thought, as a community member, to use my skills, privilege, and experiences to make change and do better. And while I value the responsibility I feel to my community, how I internalized this “duty” no longer seems to serve my relationships or desire to build community.
With the slow exit of duty, this question came up again. Responsibility to my community on its own was becoming insufficient to convince me to stay in volunteer or underpaid positions. Especially as my capacity for meaningful contributions was being increasingly limited by burnout, confusion, health issues, and mental illness.
In addition to being supported by my therapist, who is still incredibly important in my life, I began searching for others who were asking this question [what keeps us here]. And this is when I encountered conversations and models of joy, suffering, and care that really resonated with me. Along with many others, I was captivated by the writing of adrienne maree brown, who was holding the complexities of joy and suffering in ways that were new for me. I also want to credit the work of angel Kyodo Williams, an activist, writer and ordained Zen priest whose online meditation group I participated in modelled a similar vision of joy and suffering. In one interview angel Kyodo Williams quotes: “you can find joy in the midst of suffering. In fact, that’s exactly where joy lives.”
The idea that it was the joy and care in my community relationships that kept me in this work resonated deeply. But access to joy still felt elusive. I was worried that too much joy would slip quickly into toxic positivity. I was worried that if I started experiencing more joy, I was somehow erasing all of my pain and the pain of those around me. Another part of me felt like it was too vulnerable, and of course, just telling myself to “experience more joy” was not working.
This is around the time I came across a zine called “Characteristics of White Supremacy Culture” written by Tema Okun. Although I was already familiar with many of these ideas, there was either something about the way in which this information was compiled or maybe the time in which I read it, that offered me a new vision or model for my relationship to joy, work and community economic development.
For me, reading this zine gave me incredible compassion for my own social conditioning and an awareness of how it was affecting the way I worked while also giving me a new framework to begin de-conditioning it. Not only did it help me see where I might be causing harm to the people and organizations I was working with, it also helped me see where I was harming myself and subconsciously keeping myself from the joys of slowing down, resting, playfulness, collaborating, and upholding relationships, both and in my personal life and work.
Of the twelve characteristics in this zine, I’m going to go through five of them that felt most like they pushed against my ability to experience joy at the time. As I’ve focused on working through these characteristics and introduced practices for developing new ways of working and relating to others (outside of the characteristics of white supremacy culture), I have seen major shifts in the ease at which joy comes and goes. While these practices don’t take away my (sometimes overwhelming) feelings of grief, anger, and despair, increasing my capacity for joy has also increased my capacity to sit with my grief, anger and despair. Both alone, and in community.
While I go through the naming of some of these characteristics, I would encourage you to think about how your conditioning of these cultural traits has affected your relationship to joy, in work and in life.
Before I begin—I also want to note that this zine has since been updated, and the information is available as an article which I’ll give you a reference to at the end.
The first characteristic of white supremacy culture that was and still is significant for me at times, is perfectionism. The way perfectionism prevents joy for me is that it prioritizes my desired outcome of a situation over my own well-being, the well-being of others, and my relationship to the people I’m collaborating with. And sometimes, this even happens without me being conscious of what my desired outcome is.
When the well-being of myself, others and my relationships are put to the side in favour of perfectionism, conscious or subconscious, joy becomes very difficult for me to cultivate because instead, I’m hyper-fixated on a very particular outcome or feeling I want to achieve.
And again, I’ll note that sometimes this desired outcome for me wasn’t even well defined. Using the South Osborne Farmers’ Market, for example, my desired outcome may have been that I want all the vendors, patrons, volunteers and staff to have the very best experience at our market. But practically, I hadn’t talked to anyone about what that looked like or how we could collaborate to make that happen, meaning that my desire for perfectionism was all based on my own internal ideas and feelings. To let the attachment to my desired outcome go, I had to:
In doing so, I found there was so much more space for joy to exist in both the small and the big moments as we worked together to uphold our priorities. It was in the working together, building our trust and relationships, and the shared experiences of problem-solving and accomplishing our shared goals that were the most joyful aspects of the work for me.
Some additional ways I’ve experienced perfectionism hijacking my joy include:
The second robber of joy, or characteristic of white supremacy culture, that I have experienced very intensely is a sense of urgency. This sense of urgency is also incredibly activating for my nervous system, which I learned about from Resmaa Menakem in My Grandmother’s Hands. For many years I was in a constant sense of urgency, which had me convinced that resources and time were always and forever (!!) scarce when that wasn’t always true. When I am in an urgent state, my relationships become less caring and more transactional or extractive, which compromises my values and the way I feel about myself. Over time, I have found it incredibly valuable to try and identify what this state of urgency looks or feels like for me so that I am not operating from it subconsciously or for too long. I am never at my best when I am feeling a prolonged sense of urgency. Though, of course, there are times when acting with urgency becomes necessary.
Ironically, a way that this sense of urgency shows up for me, is in my desire to “fix” my sense of urgency. When I first read this zine, I felt an immediately urgent need to fix this characteristic that needed attending to… but um, that did not work. Rather, I have been focused on responding to my tendency towards a sense of urgency by very intentionally practicing pausing and slowing down whenever makes sense and is possible. And sometimes, even when it does not feel possible. I try to ask for more time than I think I’ll need on a project when I can. I support others’ requests for slowing down and extra time. I try to prioritize so I know what is actually time-sensitive versus what simply feels time-sensitive. This also leaves more energy for important things, such as unexpected crises.
The article I’m drawing on to talk about these characteristics of white supremacy culture also identifies helpful antidotes. For this characteristic, one of the antidotes that is likely relevant to many of us here includes writing realistic funding proposals with realistic timeframes–which I know is very tempting not to do when we’re trying to get required funding to retain staff and programming and/or impress our funders. But in my experience, getting more funding that only increases organizational stress and urgency is rarely worthwhile.
The next characteristic of white supremacy culture, which I’m sure many of you are familiar with and gets talked about quite often, is defensiveness.
The zine notes that with this characteristic, more time and energy is spent trying to prevent abuse than facilitating the best out of each person. A lot of energy in the organization is also spent trying to ensure people’s feelings aren’t getting hurt.
While I was re-reading this, it struck me that the sibling to defensiveness, which I have often seen in myself, might be people pleasing or the desire to “manage other peoples’ emotions”. When I’m people pleasing, again, often subconsciously, it’s to prevent having to deal with other peoples’ defensiveness.
My internal conditioning wants me to believe that having a differing opinion from someone is disruptive. It’s not necessarily wrong or bad, but keeping my opinion to myself would have been better. And, if I do have a different opinion than someone, it feels like my responsibility to make sure my disagreement or critique doesn’t hurt their feelings. In some ways, disagreeing can feel like invalidating someone else’s opinion or belief.
The other day I was talking to a friend about this, who has a different cultural experience and social conditioning than me. She observed how much energy it takes, and how much harder it is to get things done when you’re always concerned with how other people are going to react – will they be offended or defensive if you ask a question or disagree with them? My fear of someone’s reaction, putting a lot of energy into anticipating and managing their emotions or reaction, and struggling to connect with them as a result, has definitely been an unwelcome killjoy for me.
Overtime I’ve found my antidote for this has been slowing down to create trusting relationships that can hold mutual honesty, even when it feels hard and deeply uncomfortable. This includes building my own internal emotional capacity to not get offended or insecure if someone disagrees with me. Working to trust myself also gives me more capacity to trust others, and hear what they have to say in a non-defensive way.
Number 4 is Either/or thinking, which was also a big hurdle for me to experiencing joy. This type of thinking for me sought comfort and safety in things being good or bad; right or wrong; and created binaries between experiences such as joy or suffering; rest or rigour.
Of course, I was using narrow categories of how I defined good or bad; right or wrong; and if people didn’t immediately fit into these categories I had defined, I would see them as a threat. Once they “proved” they were in the acceptable category or binary, they were no longer a threat to me. In addition to this being incredibly judgemental and subjective, another way that this kept me from joy, was that I always needed to be hypervigilant of who was a threat or not and to be ready to respond if that threat was initiated. I understand that safety is very important, but for me, this habit was not conducive to community and movement building. I am currently working to find alternatives that respect my need for safety, trust and boundaries, without the judgement or categories.
I believe this is also a characteristic that can lead very quickly to burnout. It’s been hard for me to try and move between rest and rigour, for example, with ease. Allowing for both to exist multiple times throughout a day, or to learn what it means to have a few days more focused on rest, followed by a period of time that’s more focused on rigour. I also know that racial capitalism, the way we’re expected to work, parent, survive, etc. and all our other oppressive systems at play can make the intentionality and ease of these practices particularly challenging. However, back to not falling into the trap of either/or thinking, I also know it is not impossible and would still encourage practice and efforts in this area, where and when we can. My favourite phrase to counteract either/or thinking is now seeing most things as both/and. For example, moving between rest and rigour at the best pace for my body is not possible under racial capitalism, and I can still uphold my ideals for rest and rigour in the best ways I know how given my current circumstances and capacity.
Additionally, I want to say that just because I am speaking to this, does not mean I have this “figured out.” To be repetitive, it’s both/and, not either/or. I’m working on it, and struggle with these things, and may always struggle with these things, and will keep practicing these things, and etc. What’s your both/and?
The last characteristic I’m going to talk about today is individualism, or one I also like to call martyrdom. I see it all the time in non-profit culture, and I have seen it in myself many times. This is the trait that glorifies overworking, praises people for over delivering and, in my experience, is another huge contributor to burnout. There is nothing that causes stress for me, like feeling I’m the only one who can do something… which, I have realized over time, is usually not true, and I do have more control over these feelings than I often want to admit. This not only makes joy challenging because of the stress it causes but also leads to isolation. Some of the antidotes noted in the zine that have worked for me but are still (obviously!) in progress include:
Outside of these characteristics, there’s one final factor connected to joy that I want to mention, which is surrounding the role of trauma. Living with trauma, which many of us do, can make joy, safety, and love feel unsafe at times. If this is the case for you, I would recommend finding additional support(s) for this work, whether that is through therapy, ceremony, somatics, or other means that you feel are accessible and meaningful in your own life. For myself, I have also found the book “My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending our Hearts and Bodies” by Resmaa Menakem, a supportive piece of work on this topic.
The updated version of the article on white supremacy culture also includes an entire section on fear, touching on topics of both safety and belonging, which I found very resonant and helpful.
As I’ve been working through de-conditioning these traits of white supremacy culture, and practicing antidotes, I am very pleased to report that my joy and playfulness have been returning. Relationships are a priority for me again, or perhaps, more intentionally than they ever have been. I spend more time cooking and eating delicious food with others, dancing in between meetings, staring in wonder at the moon or resting under the sun, and playing hide and seek with my niblings. I usually pause or rest when I really need to. My community-building work is mostly lifegiving, even when it is challenging. And I have more energy to participate in my community with skillfulness, mindfulness, and intentionality.
I am imagining my work to undo the automatic nature of these traits will be a lifelong process of practice, as they are not only conditioned into me but also into the fabric of our society. The antidotes noted in the article have been instrumental in supporting me in this process.
As an example of how this all shows up for me, I want to fast forward to this year’s Harvest Moon Festival, where a friend asked me: “Do you ever have to give yourself permission to have fun?” And my immediate answer was yes. This work is not easy, it is not quick. I still have to ask myself often:
In an article adrienne maree brown wrote online titled, “additional recommendations for us right now from a future”, she says:
“Feel pleasure every day. Don’t let your body, your heart, forget why we fight—to feel aliveness and togetherness. We will grow.”
angel Kyoto Williams, in an interview with Sounds True, tells us: “we find our joy because we’re released of a sense of fear and ignorance that is what keeps us from being able to directly experience the joy that is actually always there and always available to us in life.”
So, I invite you to practice antidotes to the characteristics of white supremacy culture that cause distress and prevent joy in your relationships, your life, and your work. And in doing so, let’s pursue joy together. For our communities, our organizations, our relationships and ourselves.
Gratitudes: In addition to those noted throughout my reflections, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha writes extensively about disability and healing justice in this essay in a way that I have really appreciated. This article by Heather Laine Talley speaks further to the culture of white women working in nonprofits. I’m also so grateful to the many day-to-day teachers and mentors who have shaped my learning. Friends, family, community workers and advocates, co-conspirators, authors, podcasters, and more. See revolutions are made up of ordinary people like you and me, where Ayesha Khan talks about the question “who are your greatest inspirations?” I am also grateful for Bethany Daman, Asha Nelson, Meghan Mast and Peter Dueck who supported editing these reflections so they could be shared with others.
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Every year, CCEDNet members are invited to submit nominations for CCEDNet’s Board of Directors. This year, there were four vacancies to be filled.
Four eligible nominations were received by the deadline, leading our Elections Officer to declare the following candidates elected by acclamation:
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At the age of 25 Victor Beausoleil Co-Founded Redemption Reintegration Services one of the largest youth-led, youth justice agencies in Canada. As the founding Executive Director, Victor managed a $3.5 million dollar budget and
through research and advocacy built RRS into a leader in youth justice.
In 2013 Victor Beausoleil received his first public service appointment by the Premiere of Ontario Kathleen Wynne as a member of the PCYO (Premiere’s Council on Youth Opportunities). Victor has worked diligently in the broader equity seeking communities across Canada for the past fifteen years. As a lecturer Victor Beausoleil has travelled extensively throughout Canada, the United States and Africa for speaking engagements for community organizations, institutions and philanthropic foundations.
Victor Beausoleil has been a board member of the Atkinson Charitable Foundation, The Harriet Tubman Community Organization, as well as a member of the grant review committees of the Laidlaw Foundation, the Toronto Community Housing Social Investment Fund and Victor is currently on the board of the Toronto Community Benefits Network. The Toronto Star, Toronto Sun, National Post, Share Newspaper and The Caribbean Camera, have all highlighted Victor Beausoleil’s work in communities across Canada.
Victor Beausoleil is currently the President + CEO of Intuit Consulting and the founder of SETSI – The Social Economy Through Social Inclusion Coalition. Victor has written eleven books and currently resides in Toronto with his wife and four children.
Michelle has over 30 years of experience working with local and First Nation governments and NGO’s in Canada to strengthen their strategic impact and capacity, working for many years with the Canadian Centre for Community Renewal.
Her experience across all roles in community work givers her a solid understanding of the diversity of perspectives and resources communities need to get stuff done. Michelle was the community research lead in the design of the Community Resilience Manual and worked with the Government of Botswana to train facilitators there. She facilitated a diverse multi-sector Advisory group for Western Forest Products resulting in successful forest certification, was Canada’s first Transition Town Trainer and is co-founder of Building Resilient Neighbourhoods.
Currently Michelle works with SHIFT Collaborative to strengthen systems change practice and adaptive learning in action with a focus on multi-stakeholder initiatives and regional food systems. Her current work includes coaching three Collective Impact initiatives, supporting deepening inclusive practices within IPCC Working Group I, coaching NGOs to strengthen financial acumen through Thriving Non-Profits and delivery of CMHC Housing Solutions Labs.
Dr Gail Henderson is an assistant professor with Queen’s University Faculty of Law. Her research interests include corporate law, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, securities regulation and the regulation of financial institutions.
Professor Henderson graduated from Osgoode Hall Law School as Gold Medalist in 2005, and served as law clerk to The Honourable Louise Charron of the Supreme Court of Canada. Prior to pursuing graduate studies at the University of Toronto, she practiced commercial litigation and environmental and municipal law at Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP in Toronto. Her doctoral research focused on the role of corporate governance in encouraging greater corporate environmental responsibility.
Professor Henderson has received funding for her research from the Ireland Canada University Foundation, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the Canadian Foundation for Governance Research and the Canadian Centre for Ethics & Corporate Policy.
Born and raised in rural Ontario and currently living and working in rural BC, Ryan has been working as a consultant in and around CED – and most recently leading the next iteration of the SFU CED Certificate Program. In the last year, he’s worked at SFU to provide better professional development opportunities by gaining accreditation through EDAC, CCUA and Cando (TAED and PAED). Canada needs more community economic development practitioners, and Ryan is dedicated to forming connections and collaborations that will “build local economies that strengthen communities and benefit everyone.”
Ryan is a strategic, creative, systematic and analytical leader with significant experience and a proven track record of project and program success related to rural and remote community development. He has been recognized for his work, receiving the “2020 – 2021 BCEDA Economic Development Marketing Innovation Award (Less than 20,000 Population)” and the 2020 BC Farmers Market Champion Award.