Thank you message from Board Chair Victoria GrantTuesday, December 19th, 2017 | Guest Post
As her term winds to a close at the end of 2017, Board Chair Victoria Grant reflects back on her time and contribution to our movement.
To have had the opportunity to be in the leadership position as Board Chair with Community Foundations of Canada has been a positive and rewarding experience, and I am incredibly grateful to those who have supported me in this position over the last two plus years.
The quality of directors who have been at the table with me, the leadership and staff at CFC, the support of community foundations — all of this has allowed us to engage in meaningful ways with communities, both at home and abroad. Together this has created such a fulfilling and rewarding experience.
When I reflect back on my own relationship with CFC, which began in 1999, the year a friend and I began to look at the possibility of establishing a community foundation in Temagami, I had no idea what a significant role this movement would play in my life.
In the almost twenty years since, we have grown to more than 191 community foundations. Growth like this changes the way we do business, yet through it all we have held true to our values: “All for community, community for all.”
These past few years have created opportunities for me to learn, grow, and get to know the many different communities that make up Canada. I have also met and learned from some exceptional and committed community champions across this country. Perhaps most gratifying has been the commitment of those community foundations that have taken on the work of engaging in the process of Reconciliation.
Focusing on belonging and inclusion
Over the last two years, two areas of national focus have defined our work. The first was a collective effort to foster a greater sense of belonging within communities, which included a response to welcome refugees from Syria who were newly arriving in Canada. We established the Welcome Fund for Syrian Refugees in partnership with community foundations, which in turn supported local organizations across Canada leading the housing and resettlement efforts.
Reconciliation has also been part of this belonging work. Together with fellow philanthropic organizations, we helped create and became a signatory to the Declaration of Action — a call to action inviting others to join in moving forward in an atmosphere of understanding, dignity and respect towards the shared goal of Reconciliation. Since signing on, CFC has taken an active role in working to create opportunities both internally and externally to fulfill our commitment to Reconciliation and the Declaration.
The other national focus for us has been around Canada’s 150th. Here we continued to build “smarter, more caring communities”, and to be at the forefront of conversations around Canada 150th — reaching across divides and building new connections through Alliance 150 and the Community Fund for Canada’s 150th.
As a collaborative effort seeded by the Government of Canada and delivered locally by community foundations, the Community Fund for Canada’s 150th has supported over 2,100 youth-led, Indigenous-led and community-led projects in every province and territory, engaging 100,000 volunteers, 400 communities and 175 community foundations (or 92% of our network!) along the way.
Another milestone during my time was the 2017 Community Foundations Conference which brought together more than 700 philanthropic leaders to explore what belonging and inclusion looks like in our communities. The content was challenging, and the conversations difficult, but overall the conference delivered an experience to remember.
Of course there were many other activities and opportunities that our movement is engaged in that I am proud of (too many to highlight in fact!). Suffice to say none of this engagement could happen without the commitment of the board, staff, and community foundation leadership.
A board and movement for the future
Across the private, public and voluntary sectors, CFC has been guided by a team of board members with a wide variety of skills and experiences from accounting and financial management to governance and communications. But what is most fortunate is that these board members are also genuinely passionate about the work of our movement. The time and counsel that board members gave me and one another when it was needed most made an enormous contribution to how I fulfilled my role as Chair.
Having a fully engaged, cohesive and collegial board whose members understand their responsibilities and take them seriously makes a huge practical difference. To my colleagues, my friends, you gave me support and encouragement, but also sought accountability and transparency by asking searching questions; you showed courage and were prepared to take tough decisions.
When I think of the past two years, what is most significant and a source of strength for our network is the relationship between and among board members and staff. I believe this arises from a culture we have created together, the values we aspire to, the leadership we have chosen, and the management we have developed. All this makes CFC and our movement stronger and more adaptable.
The diversity among community foundations sometimes poses a challenge for us, but it’s also this diversity that keeps us relevant. Right now Canada’s population is getting older and more diverse. People are gravitating more towards city living. Technology is changing the way we work. Climate change is impacting our environment. Whether large or small, urban or rural, we are all grappling with similar kinds of challenges, but within our own local contexts.
Today’s landscape invites our movement and its leadership to adapt, recognizing that we will all do it differently, and at different times. We may not always get it right, but we must continue to learn from each other as we create a Canada where we all belong.
Looking to the future, CFC’s Board of Directors will continue adapt in our own way too by leaning in and finding new ways to create opportunities for learning, leadership and engagement.
Meegwetch, and thank you for allowing me the privilege to serve as Board Chair. It has been an incredible opportunity. I have learned so much and know this knowledge will serve me well in whatever I do next. I will close by saying that I leave my role as Chair with a very strong sense of belonging to this community of foundations across this great country.