(Many) Big Updates on Social Innovation Canada

Hey Social Innovators!

We’ve been busy!! And though you haven’t heard from us, it’s only because we have been so focused on getting it all done and lining up the ducks to respond to the amazing and exciting changes that are afoot in our communities and our country.

You may have noticed the federal government’s announcements of an $805M investment into social innovation and social finance? Amazing to even have the words ‘social innovation’ show up in an economic statement, never mind actually making such a significant investment. And as you will see below, we have also been working with our amazing partners at the regional and local level to weave together some of the amazing work that they have been doing through our regional ecosystem.

It certainly feels like the moment is upon us and so we are even more thrilled to share what we have been up to and some very exciting news with you. Today we are announcing:

  • The release of our Findings from the Field report – the result of our 2018 consultation
  • Presenting our collaborative strategy – Introducing Social Innovation Canada
  • Announcing the hire of the Director, Social Innovation Canada who will lead and steward this work forward.
  • Oh yes, and check out our new branding and a name… cool, eh?

Let’s start with the people! We’ve hired a new Director of Social Innovation Canada

Please join me in welcoming Chi Nguyen!

Chi is delighted to join CSI and the Social Innovation Canada family to help spread the mission of social innovation across Canada. Most recently, Chi was the CEO (ChiEO) of a start-up social enterprise consulting firm focused on gender violence prevention and gender inclusion: Parker P. Consulting, with White Ribbon Canada. She has also worked for some amazing Canadian institutions, charitable agencies and do-gooding organizations including United Way Toronto, CBC and MASS LBP. Chi has been an active community member serving on a number of boards including Jane’s Walk, Story Planet, St. Stephen’s Community House and Canadian Women’s Health Network. Her work has been recognised for improving the lives of women and girls throughout Canada by the Governor General (2004) and the YWCA (1999). She holds an MSc in Social Psychology from the London School of Economics.

She wishes that everyone loved community involvement, civic engagement and democracy as much as she does – and wants to build a world where our decision-making institutions better serve the interests of all of us. In her free time, she likes to race streetcars on her bicycle, swim in Ontario lakes, eat delicious food and chase her two boys through Toronto’s awesome parks.

We’ve published the Findings Report

Through the end of 2017 –  2018, a coalition of partners came together to consult and collaborate with thousands of innovators across the country. Together, they co-created Social Innovation Canada – a new pan-Canadian initiative to weave the social innovation ecosystem together. We wanted to to work together to build the capacity of new and existing practitioners, to build our field and to elevate our work and our impact in communities across Canada. The scope of our efforts over the past year has been to explore how we want to work together to be able to unlock the potential of social innovation in Canada. Today we invite you to read the full findings report here.

We’ve Got a Strategy

How do you steer a course through powerful seas and shifting winds? This has been our challenge over the past few months. The answer is of course: wave by wave. So much has emerged since June from the work being done by practitioners, regions, funders and governments that every time we wrote something down it seemed out of date by the next week. Today we present a snapshot of where we are today, where we think we’re going, and how we plan to get there with Introducing Social Innovation Canada: Aligning for Action. Of course, this is all still emergent and we’ll endeavour to keep you updated with more announcements as they come.

Brand and Website

There are at least three firms working together, coordinated by Centre for Social Innovation, to create a new digital home where we’ll all connect, align, learn, and showcase our work. This is no small task. Our goal is to launch a modern and sophisticated public site early in the new year, with an iterative approach to the technology behind the three pillars detailed in the documents released today over the remaining year. Much of what we’re building is new and while we’re learning it sometimes feels like two steps forward, one step back. In the meantime you can follow us on Twitter @SICanadaTeam or on our temporary WordPress site at SICanada.org

Very Important Acknowledgments

Our most sincere gratitude goes to outgoing SI Canada Director Saralyn Hodgkin, through whom this initiative came together and without whom our progress would not have been possible. Her leadership, warmth, brilliance, and generosity held the tensions and inspired communities from coast to coast to come together, and figure out how to stay together. Thank you Saralyn!

Thanks, as always to all of you and the thousands of practitioners who consulted with us about the sector and what the future looks like. We endeavour to honour your contributions through action, and deliver on our promises.

Let’s make some change together in 2019,

– Tonya Surman

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