As the COVID-19 crisis progresses, we continue to hear inspiring stories about community mobilization, emergency responses, and community foundations creating innovative solutions.

Across Canada, community foundations have confronted the pandemic with a willingness to provide help and support for those in need. This crisis has shown us the power of an engaged community, and the diverse emergency responses from community foundations have proved the importance of grassroots initiatives in local regions and municipalities.

The following is part of an ongoing series that spotlights the emergency response efforts of local community foundations across Canada. In addition to these features, we have also compiled a map sharing the mobilization efforts from community foundations across the country. 

Montreal has been dramatically affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. To date, there are 12,500 cases reported in the Montreal region, accounting for more than two thirds of all cases in Quebec. For context, the number of cases in Montreal is nine times the total number of cases in BC alone. 

For Yvan Gauthier, Executive Director of the Fondation du Grand Montréal (FGM), this has meant finding unique and innovative solutions to the growing challenge. Gauthier has seen new connections and collaborations occur as foundations and communities rally together. With a diverse cross-section of the Montreal community being affected, the foundation has been able to broaden the voices in their movement and develop stronger relationships with existing ties. For the foundation’s emergency response fund, the Fonds Collectif COVID-19, 11 local foundations came together to provide support, some of which were donating to FGM for the first time.

In the first 10 days of FGM’s fund application period, the foundation received over 100 project applications, speaking to the huge need in the community.

To decide which grants to support, the foundation has enacted an advisory committee composed of the local foundations that first supported the emergency fund. FGM is also in weekly discussions with the local United Way to coordinate funding needs.

With the intensity of the pandemic in the municipality, it has been necessary to support a wide range of organizations in their response. For FGM, this was a nautral solution as the foundation’s strategy is aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which emphasize how everything is interconnected. The emergency fund is supporting projects that address healthcare, education, culture, environment and social development. 

Being the epicentre of the pandemic in Canada is a challenge, but in the midst of the tragedy, Gauthier sees an opportunity for us to build new connections that will serve us well in the recovery ahead. For him, the emergency fund is a rallying cry to work together with new and familiar voices, reminding us that “ça va bien aller.”