In October, on the edge of the CCEDNet national Conference, EconoUs2018, 40+ community development organizations, innovators, entrepreneurs and academics gathered to learn more about the Social Innovation Canada project and its impact in Atlantic Canada. They came with questions about timelines, resources and governance and all those in the room reinforced the importance for work in this region to be led with intentional collaboration. To that end, our team has had the privilege of travelling across the region this fall to connect, deepen relationships, and better understand the supports that would be useful for contributors to this field.
In New Brunswick we gathered stories to share about the supports that the Co-Operative Enterprise Council New Brunswick (CECNB) has built for community economic development stakeholders. These innovators are making coordinated use of the provincial tax credit program to fund innovation in home care, bulk food purchasing, transportation, hospitality, tourism, much more. In St John, the Social Enterprise Hub was the perfect venue to connect with many leaders in the area including the Community Loan Fund, Living St John, The Learning Exchange and the Housing Development Corporation who co-work in shared space to integrate their programming and maximize resources. Similarly, one flagship project of the Pond- Deshpande Centre called NouLab, has established itself as leaders in the development of social and public innovation labs. They are currently helping establish a regional community of practice in this field.
In Nova Scotia, the Extension Department at StFXU in partnership with the Coady International program are walking alongside community partners in a new way with the Innovation and Enterprise Centre, similar to how peer- support gatherings like “Linking Arms” and “42Canada” have started in Atlantic Canada and are having impact across the country. We will partner with “How We Thrive” in 2019 to continue the work of supporting a vision for a thriving community of changemakers in the region and broadening the outreach to all of Atlantic Canada.
Newfoundland and Labrador have recognized leaders in the Atlantic region in community-led innovation. The team at Choices for Youth have set a high bar for social enterprises in the province, leading highly impactful programs of individualized support for young people. In particular, the “Momma Moments” team have grown their programs that support young pregnant and parenting women, into a resilient community of long term support. Also based in St John’s, the CSCNL regularly convenes community innovators from across the province and provides advocacy for the work of the community sector.
Armed with a greater depth of understanding and many stories about successful innovations in our region, the Weavers team for SI Canada in the Atlantic Region are now working on an ecosystem mapping project to map the collected stories and to formalize the connections between people, projects and organizations in our region. Working with a multi-sectoral, provincial team of advisors, this map will be an online resource, available in 2019, to be used as a tool to foster even greater collaborative efforts across all provinces in our region.