Activism, faith and digital connectivity key to community participation and belonging in Canada, says new national Vital Signs report

(OTTAWA, ON) October 4, 2016 – Canadians who are involved in activism, attend religious services and connected online are all more likely to feel they belong to their communities. That’s the headline behind a new national Vital Signs report released today exploring how social participation and our sense of belonging influence each other in Canada.

Belonging: Exploring connection to community, supported in partnership with MFS, draws on community knowledge, local data as well as responses from a cross-country survey conducted with the Angus Reid Institute in 2015 to ask: What does it means to belong and be involved in our communities?

The national 2016 Vital Signs report looks at a number of pathways to belonging – activism, faith, online, sport and the arts – to redefine social participation and better understand how people from all walks of life engage in their communities. Activism, faith and digital connectivity were central to feelings of greater belonging.

  • People involved in activism rate higher on several indicators of well-being.
  • Individuals who consider their religion or faith to be very important are twice as likely to have a strong sense of belonging to Canada.
  • Canadians who are active on social media are more likely to visit their friends in person and volunteer.

This year’s national Vital Signs report is the second in a multi-year three-part series focused on on the topic of belonging, which has become an area of strategic focus for Community Foundations of Canada and many community foundations across the country.

“The more communities send signals of acceptance and the more individuals get involved in their community then the more people feel like they belong,” says Lee Rose, Director of Community Knowledge with Community Foundations of Canada and lead for the national Vital Signs program. “Belonging connects to so much of what we’re seeing play out in communities across the country. Welcoming newcomers and refugee families arriving in Canada, fostering more diverse and inclusive societies, strengthening the relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people – all this is part of building communities where we all belong.”

Other key highlights from the report about our sense of belonging and social participation in Canada include:

  • More than one-third of Canadians feel a weak sense of community belonging and don’t feel like they have a stake in their community.
  • Only half of Canadians think that being involved in community events and activities is important to their day-to-day activities.
  • More than half of Canadians do not currently live in the community where they grew up, contributing to social isolation and lack of belonging.

Communities across Canada launch reports for Vital Signs week

The Vital Signs program aims to inspire civic engagement and provide focus for public debate in communities across Canada and around the world. Thirty-two communities in Canada and another 23 in other parts of the world are involved in this year’s program, culminating with Vital Signs week from October 2-8.

“Vital Signs is a catalyst for civic engagement in communities across Canada and around the world,” says Claude Lauzière, Manager of Community Knowledge with Community Foundations of Canada and lead for the community Vital Signs initiative. “The program inspires a shared vision for communities to work collectively on local issues, by sparking vital conversations and community building.”

First started by Toronto Foundation in 2001, Vital Signs is now a global program that has engaged more than 85 communities in Canada and around the world to mobilize the power of community knowledge for greater local impact.

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About Community Foundations of Canada

Community Foundations of Canada is the national network for Canada’s 191 community foundations. Together we are a philanthropic movement working across sectors to help Canadians invest in building strong and resilient communities. Learn more at communityfoundations.ca.

About Vital Signs

Vital Signs is a national program led by community foundations and coordinated by Community Foundations of Canada that leverages local knowledge to measure the vitality of our communities and support action towards improving our collective quality of life.

MFS – National Vital Signs Lead Partner

MFS is the lead partner for our national Vital Signs program and is working with Community Foundations of Canada to strengthen our understanding of the role that belonging plays in fostering connection to community.

 

Media contact:

David Venn
Director of Communications
Community Foundations of Canada
P: (613) 236-2664 ext. 302
C: (613) 266-6917
E: dvenn@communityfoundations.ca

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