Frequently Asked Questions

What is SI Canada?

Social Innovation Canada is a national charitable organization working to address complex challenges and create transformational change.

At SI Canada, we believe the application of social innovation approaches is essential to tackling problems that no sector or solo entrepreneur can solve alone. Social innovation is made possible by the contribution of diverse teams and the inclusion of ideas and actions from those most impacted by the challenges we face.  

What is the history of Social Innovation Canada? 

In 2017 and 2018, a group of philanthropy and social sector leaders connected with hundreds of Canadian social innovation practitioners from coast to coast, and listened. Their process revealed that the sector is too fragmented and disconnected to effectively learn from one another, and scale solutions broadly and quickly. SI Canada was then created to address the needs identified during that process. You can read the whole story about that year here.

What does Social Innovation Canada do?

Recognizing the depth and diversity of organizations and people working towards a more just, equitable and sustainable future, our contribution to this vibrant field is focused on three complementary areas:

Ecosystem Building and Field Catalyst: We support and connect innovators working in and with social and environmental organizations across every sector. We amplify the work of social innovation practitioners connecting them to networks, resources and to each other.

Transformation Practice: SI Canada leads social innovation labs, challenges and collaborations to address systemic (or complex) challenges. These processes are designed to be inclusive, collaborative, cross-sectoral and centre the experiences of those acutely impacted in order to generate powerful interventions.

Systems Navigator: We work to reduce systemic barriers and unlock resources to enable the implementation and scaling of solutions.

What is the connection to Centre for Social Innovation and to the Social Innovation Institute?

SI Canada was incubated within the Social Innovation Institute (SII), a registered charity affiliated with the Centre for Social Innovation (CSI).

CSI is a nonprofit social enterprise that has grown from the ground up and is now home to hundreds of social purpose organizations in Ontario. With 15 years of experience in community and sector building, social enterprise and systems change work, CSI was a key convening force behind the creation of SI Canada, building on the work of SIG and ensuring social innovation’s future is more accessible, inclusive and rooted in community than ever before.

How is SI Canada different from Social Innovation Generation (SiG)?

SiG was a valuable and trailblazing organization that laid the foundation for SI Canada. SI Canada is the torchbearer of those lessons, and it is focused on helping this growing field develop them and put them into practice. SI Canada will function as the collaborative infrastructure that connects the existing work being done by Canada’s many labs and leaders, and as a platform for learning, collaboration and wayfinding

Is SI Canada a federal government thing? What is its relationship to the Social Innovation and Social Finance Strategy Co-Creation Steering Group?

No, SI Canada was born of civil society: foundations, non-profits, charities, social programs inside universities. We envision SI Canada to be multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder. Although there are many collaborators inside federal and provincial governments, there is no official connection to the federal government.

SI Canada is independently building on the general momentum of, and is working to address many of the recommendations of the Social Innovation and Social Finance Strategy Co-Creation Steering Group, which itself came from a separate and Canada-wide process meant to gain perspective on:

    • the skills and capacity of community organizations and governments to pursue social innovation and social finance, including their capacity to measure social outcomes and impact;
    • federal laws, regulations and policies that have an impact on the ability of community organizations to participate in social innovation and social finance initiatives; and
    • access to the capital needed to fund, replicate and expand the reach of social innovation and social finance projects.

Learn more about that group and process and their full list of recommendations.

What is SI Canada’s relationship to the social enterprise sector and the Social Finance Fund?

There is no formal relationship. Our definition of social innovation is broad: we see that social innovation can happen through markets, collaborations, policy changes, culture, education and more. We recognize the incredible power of social enterprise and social finance to create market solutions, but we see social innovation being inherently broader in its tactics, and primarily focused on systems change as its objective.

Who is part of SI Canada?

SI Canada believes in the power of local relationships. Our work recognizes that there has been incredible leadership in communities from coast to coast.  SI Canada originally connected this existing leadership through a partnership of six regional nodes: RADIUS SFU in BC, ABSI Connect in Alberta, Social Enterprise Centre in Manitoba, Centre for Social Innovation in Ontario, LaMIS in Quebec, and Inspiring Communities in Atlantic Canada.  We look forward to more regional and sectoral leadership emerging and being able to further weave this work together more seamlessly. 

I still have questions, who should I talk to?

We’re always open to starting a conversation. Email