Engaging our communities in Canada’s 150th

I know, I know – Canada Day 2017 is still over a year away. But the recent announcements made by Minister Joly have reminded the country that Canada’s sesquicentennial year is right around the corner, and we know through our work with the 150Alliance that celebrations, activities and initiatives are already rolling out across the country.

At Community Foundations of Canada (CFC), we’ve had 2017 on our radar since 2011, when the Governor General of Canada, David Johnston, challenged our community foundation movement to imagine how we could build a smarter and more caring nation to mark Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation. That seemed far away at the time, but we recognized that Canada’s 150th was not only a milestone anniversary, but a unique opportunity to build a stronger sense of belonging in our communities and our country.

Since 2011, we’ve met with organizations all over the country who are also dreaming big around Canada’s 150th. But we wanted to know how Canadians felt – without a massive international event like Expo ‘67, did the average Canadian even know this anniversary was approaching? Did they care? In February of this year, we worked with our friends at MASS LBP and Vox Pop to explore these questions by surveying Canadians across the country.

The results were positive – 73% of respondents knew that Canada’s 150th was next year and better yet, 90% of them felt it was important for Canada to celebrate. Here at CFC, we were especially pleased to see that more than 85% of respondents were interested in participating in a community event in 2017. And with over half a year to go, we still have time to make Canada’s 150th a meaningful moment for our communities.

How can we do this? We know from our 150Alliance roadshow that bringing individuals and organizations together to dive deep on Canada’s 150th is a powerful catalyst to get people thinking about the impact they’d like to make and the legacy they’d like to leave for Canada. More than that, these conversations provide opportunities for us to make connections, share resources, form partnerships, and become greater than the sum of our parts. We want to see the same momentum we’ve fostered at our regional gatherings take place at the community level.   PIKE-7177Hosting community conversations is a unique opportunity to bring local organizations, municipalities, and individuals together to dive deep on Canada’s 150th at the local level. Leveraging the resources we’ve already created through the 150Alliance, we’ve put together a guide, Hosting a Community Conversation for Canada’s 150th, to help do just that. Need more inspiration? Check out the upcoming events planned in Ottawa and Victoria.

Of course, hosting these community conversations is only the beginning. Putting ideas into action is the next step, which is why our recently-launched Community Fund for Canada’s 150th is such an exciting initiative. With thousands of small grants distributed by community foundations across the country, the fund will support a wide range of community projects to mark Canada’s 150th.

These projects are not just Canada Day celebrations – they can be anything that uses Canada’s 150th to encourage participation, inspire a deeper understanding of the people, places and events that shape our communities, and build healthy and vibrant communities where everyone belongs.  With projects focused on arts and culture, celebrations, environment, education and learning, and more, there will be an opportunity to engage the entire country in Canada’s 150th, from our smallest communities to our biggest cities. And with the 150Alliance network, the impact and stories that come out of these communities will be shared with Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

If you’re interested in getting involved, here are some ideas to get you started:

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