About the Fund

The Community Innovation Fund was designed to help Quebec’s English-speaking communities put social innovation in action to address the needs of vulnerable English-speaking Quebecers. Financed by the Government of Canada’s Social Development Partnerships Program – Children and Families Component, and managed by the Quebec Community Groups Network, the Fund invested more than $1 million in social initiatives while building partnerships to increase funds that are injected into our communities.

The Fund supported 10 innovative projects that truly transformed the lives of individual English-speaking Quebecers. Targeting the particular priorities of our community’s youth, seniors and caregivers as well as newcomers, the Fund made it possible for community groups to address social issues more effectively. Almost 2,000 vulnerable seniors, youth and newcomers received new services to help them find jobs, fight isolation or learn new skills. By this measure alone, the Fund generated a tremendous return. Furthermore, a core goal of the Community Innovation Fund – that all these projects be sustained into the future – was realized.

INNOVATION IN ACTION

The Community Innovation Fund financed 10 innovative projects that truly transformed the lives of individual English-speaking Quebecers. Watch our documentary to find out how.

Coasters Association

Officials in isolated regions often lament their brain drain – young people who leave to study in cities and never come back. That’s particularly true of English-speaking youths, who have even fewer opportunities to work in their own language than their French-speaking counterparts. So it’s refreshing to hear Heidi Buckle say that the retention rate of English-speaking high- school graduates in Quebec’s distant Lower North Shore region is growing.

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Council for Anglophone Magdalen Islanders

Helena Burke has to contend with various issues inherent to the Magdalen Islands – mainly one, actually; the lure of the sea. The Executive Director of the Council for Anglophone Magdalen Islanders (CAMI), said that it’s a challenge asking a teenager whether he wants to stay in school or make $40,000 in a season, fishing. The answer is usually predictable. Add to the mix a small and isolated island, a tiny English- speaking population of 650, fewer opportunities than on the mainland, and the problems can compound.

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The Depot Community Food Centre

The Depot Community Food Centre is, at heart, a food bank. It supplies food baskets and community meals to the needy in the Montreal neighbourhood of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, runs community kitchen workshops, operates its own collective garden, and manages community gardens for the borough. Now, thanks to a grant from the Community Innovation Fund, the Depot is also in the process of adding “doorways and pathways”, branching out into services that help young people, particularly newcomers to Quebec, find employment.

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DESTA Black Youth Network

The mission of DESTA is to provide job training and growth opportunities for English-speaking black youths aged 18 to 35 in Montreal’s Little Burgundy neighbourhood. Old stereotypes die hard and income disparity, education levels and unemployment levels still disfavour the Black community disproportionately – as does the incarceration rate. Blacks represent three per cent of the Canadian population, but nine per cent of federal prisoners. The Montreal community’s unemployment rate is more than twice that of non-visible minority French-speakers. Only 9.5 per cent of Black Montrealers earn more than $50,000 a year, compared with 25 per cent of non-visible minority English- speaking Montrealers.

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NDG Senior Citizens’ Council

“The whole program has been a godsend, simply exceptional,” said Anne Mackay, Medical Transport Coordinator for the NDG Senior Citizens Council. “We started promoting it as soon as we got the funding and we were deluged immediately. I had no idea how many isolated seniors there were and just how alone they are.” The vocation of the Council, located in the west-end of Montreal, is to fend off isolation prevalent among senior citizens. Among other services, they assist low-income, English-speaking seniors who need to be escorted to medical appointments.

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New Hope Senior Citizen’s Centre

Before receiving a grant from the Community Innovation Fund, New Hope Senior Citizen’s Centre’s computer program – if you could call it that – was hardly cutting edge. “We had one slow, rickety Dell computer that was older than my 30-year-old son,” recalls Gerry Lafferty, Executive Director of New Hope in the Montreal borough of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce. “We called it a computer program, with one crappy computer and one or two volunteers.” The seed money has allowed New Hope to pay the salaries of a coordinator and an instructor – and allowed more than 80 seniors to do some catch-up with the world’s fast-moving technology.

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Park-Extension Youth Organization

Before receiving a grant from the Community Innovation Fund, New Hope Senior Citizen’s Centre’s computer program – if you could call it that – was hardly cutting edge. “We had one slow, rickety Dell computer that was older than my 30-year-old son,” recalls Gerry Lafferty, Executive Director of New Hope in the Montreal borough of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce. “We called it a computer program, with one crappy computer and one or two volunteers.” The seed money has allowed New Hope to pay the salaries of a coordinator and an instructor – and allowed more than 80 seniors to do some catch-up with the world’s fast-moving technology.

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Phelps Helps

The high-school graduation rate among English-speaking youth in the Stanstead region of the Eastern Townships is barely above 50 per cent, 24 per cent lower than the Quebec average. More than half do not speak French at home, and nearly a quarter cannot even express themselves in the majority language. These grim realities have concrete, real-world consequences, one of them being that 34 per cent of women and 27 per cent of men between the ages of 25 and 64 are unemployed.

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Voice of English-speaking Québec

For most people, expanding their horizons is an aspirational notion. For special needs youths, it’s a necessity if they are to lead a productive life. Funded by the Community Innovation Fund, the Expanding Horizons program in Quebec City was structured for 16- to 29-year-old English-speaking youth who are at-risk or who have special needs. “There was a void for special needs programs for individuals over 21,” explains Brigitte Wellens, Executive Director of Voice of English-speaking Quebec (VEQ). “For them, there is nothing, no support.”

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Youth Employment Services

The proportion of recent immigrants to Quebec who move on to other provinces is extremely high. Stemming that exodus is one of the goals of Youth Employment Services (YES), which got a funding boost to address the issue from the Community Innovation Fund. For the past quarter century, YES has served mostly English-speaking youth looking to match their skills with positions employers want to fill. “Our CIF project was specifically for newcomers to Quebec who are looking to break into the job market here,” said Annalise Iten, Job Search Program Director at YES.

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NEWS

Providing job opportunities for English youth in rural Quebec

Assisting young people by enhancing their education with practical…

Quebec Anglophone community groups get $1M in federal funding

"The Quebec Community Groups Network, an Anglophone umbrella…

Ten projects selected to help vulnerable Quebec anglophones

"Ten projects that will improve the prospects and quality of…

Feds give $1M to Quebec groups serving English-speaking community

"Ottawa is providing more than $1 million in funding for community…

GOVERNANCE COMMITTEE

The Community Innovation Fund (CIF) Governance Committee provides strategic guidance, oversight and input for the development, implementation and evaluation of all aspects of CIF. Governance committee members are not responsible for the selection of projects for the CIF. This task will be carried out by an independent selection committee of individuals who are not affiliated with any eligible community organizations.

Members of the CIF Governance Committee:

  • JOHN BUCK

    Co-Chair of the Committee
    Executive Director, CEDEC

  • CATHY BROWN

    Executive Director, CASA

  • RACHEL HUNTING

    Executive Director, Townshippers’ Association

  • IAN KOTT

    Co-Chair of the Committee
    President, NDG Seniors Citizens’ Council
    Board Member, Tyndale St.Georges Community Centre

  • MICHAEL DOIG

    Partner, MNP
    Treasurer, West Island Blues Festival

  • CHRISTOPHER NEAL

    QCGN Board Member

  • JORDAN BLACK

    MBA student, Desautels School of Management, McGill University

KNOWLEDGE MOBILIZATION

Social Enterprises Activities – Resources

There exist many resources for groups interested in creating a social enterprise.  Social enterprise offers a range of possibilities for combining for-profit and non-profit goals, as well as the possibility of pursuing philanthropic ends without relying on the traditional means of financing charitable ventures: government grants and private donations.

The Social Economy in Quebec

The social economy in Quebec presents lessons and challenges for internationalizing co-operation. This paper, authored by a leading authority on the subject, Marguerite Mendell, provides an overview of the contemporary social economy in Quebec, its many achievements and results in terms of job creation and the promotion of collective enterprise.

Definitions of the Social Economy and its many components

Social financing, cooperatives, social enterprises, collective impact. The field of social economy has many components.  A  glossary on the subject, including associated websites may be a useful introduction to the subject.

Federal Government Social Finance Strategy

The Government of Canada has developed a Social Innovation and Social Finance Strategy for the country. As part of the process it consulted the English-speaking community of Quebec. The QCGN submitted a written brief and many community members participated in a live online discussion.

Please note that there are 2 documents:

  1. Consultation from Government
  2. QCGN Brief

Maximizing your Annual Report

Most organizations complete annual reports, so why not create the greatest impact for stakeholders with this important document!  The Community Innovation Fund held a webinar on this subject for the English-speaking community.  It highlighted do’s and don’ts, as well as advice on content, format and design.