Speech delivered at the Philanthropic Foundations Canada Symposium, Toronto, October 28, 2015.
This presentation was originally called Working with a City and a Province, but I’ve modified that so it better represents the work we are doing in the Winnipeg Boldness Project, hence: Working with Cities, Provinces and First Nations – the Winnipeg Boldness Project. The lessons that we’re applying in Winnipeg stem in part from the formative experiences that we gained from two other initiatives.
Vibrant Communities is a partnership that the Foundation embarked upon with the Tamarack and Caledon Institutes, and is a ten-year collective impact initiative to reduce urban poverty. Today, 47 cities and nine provinces are part of Vibrant Communities Canada.
Another initiative, ALLIES, was a successful cooperation between McConnell and Maytree to improve the rate at which professional immigrants find suitable employment. It was the first time that we co-funded significantly with governments and the private sector.
In retrospect, these successes seem clear and concise, but at times they were anything but. Working on complex challenges with cities, provinces and First Nations is, well — complex.
A commitment to positive change
Two years ago, we were looking for a place to support improved outcomes in Indigenous early child development, possibly through the use of a social impact bond. We came to Point Douglas in Winnipeg’s North End, a community of 50,000 people, many of whom live in conditions of toxic stress. 87% of Indigenous babies born here are deemed at risk; 50% of Indigenous children arrive at kindergarten deemed not ready to learn, and 20% of kids born here are removed from their families and placed under care of the state. A completely unacceptable set of circumstances.