Happy Birthday Canada! - Connecting Your Community Investment to the National Celebration
With summer here, people are out celebrating the country's 150th birthday and everything Canadian - from building an online Canadian coat of arms, to planning vacations exploring our National Parks with Parks Canada's 2017 free passes.
Beyond learning how to pronounce "sesquicentennial", there are solid corporate reasons to celebrate Canada's 150th.
The anniversary also provides a great opportunity to use your community investment programs to boost your employee engagement. A number of corporations and organizations across Canada are taking advantage of the year-long festivities to run events and programs that are generating positive impact in the communities in which they operate.
Generally, the activities fall into one of two different categories: signature projects that encourage participation within the ranks and community projects that get employees out and about and highlight regional talent, expertise and the country's diversity.
Three LBG Canada clients have taken three different ways to celebrate this year.
Meridian Joins Forces With Credit Unions Across The Country
Meridian, the fourth largest Credit Union in Canada, already matches employee donations, fundraising efforts and volunteer hours to encourage employees as they volunteer with charities they're passionate about in their communities.
This year the Ontario-based credit union is taking the opportunity to go even further. "We decided to participate in the Canadian Credit Union Association (CCUA) volunteer challenge," says Lauren Fitzgerald, Community Investment Specialist at Meridian. The CCUA is challenging credit unions to contribute to a total 150,000 volunteer hours across the country and across the sector by the end of 2017.
Meridian has committed to contribute 5,000 so that's what we committed to." Furthermore, at the end of the year, the company will recognize employees with Change Maker awards, donated to the employee's charity of choice. There are three different categories for the Change Maker awards; individual employees, teams and family.
"When you have a family it's not realistic to take a day off work and go volunteer," says Fitzgerald. "But if it's something you can do together as a family it can be really meaningful." It can also help any students in the family receive volunteer hours that are recorded by their schools.
Fitzgerald admits the initial planning around Canada 150 was "a little overwhelming" because so many people brought so many good ideas to the table. "The key is to stay authentic to business goals and values that your employees and stakeholders believe in," she says. "For us it was clear that we really wanted to tie in the celebration to volunteer work and community building because that's a big part of our identity as a credit union and the values that credit unions share." There was no extra budget set aside for the sesquicentennial. It came out of the existing budget for Employee Volunteering/Giving.
Meridian decided the best course of action was to work with employees who are already doing community building and participating in employee volunteering/giving programs. "We really wanted to do something for Canada 150 because it's inspirational," says Fitzgerald.
Shaw Supports 150 Birthday Wishes
Shaw Communications celebrated Canada's landmark anniversary by granting 150 birthday wishes to honour extraordinary Canadians and organizations that are improving the lives of children and youth. The Calgary-based telecommunications company asked Canadians to nominate people, events and organizations that are working to build a healthy and prosperous future for children and youth in our communities.
"Canada is a place of inspiration, innovation, and diversity," said Chethan Lakshman, Vice President, External Affairs. "As a proudly Canadian company, with customers, employees and operations across Canada, we wanted to celebrate our country by recognizing the outstanding people and organizations that are making Canada a better place for kids."
Through its existing Shaw Kids Investment Program (SKIP), Shaw is providing grants to non-profit organizations that are holding heritage and cultural youth-focused events, charitable organizations planning initiatives that support children and youth and organizations that are championed by Canadians that are going above and beyond to support Canada's youth.
Organizations that received funding include the Rick Hansen Foundation to support their Access4All Canada 150 Signature Initiative, the Earth Rangers' School Assembly Program that takes information about the environment to elementary schools, and the Innovation 150 Power of Ideas Tour, which is a travelling, hands-on exhibit teaching kids about the history of Canadian innovation. Shaw is also involving employees in this initiative by matching all employee donations to kids and youth organizations in 2017 at 150%.
Through the program, Shaw is shining a spotlight on these different activities by announcing them over they year and featuring them on a special website for the sesquicentennial: www.shaw.ca/Canada150.
"We received a large number of nominations, and were moved by the many amazing stories of outstanding individuals and their incredible dedication to our communities," said Lakshman.
Cenovus Celebrates Literacy and Culture to Honour Canada 150
As a homegrown Canadian company, Cenovus is commemorating Canada's 150 throughout the year by giving back to the communities where they work and live in a meaningful and impactful way. The company is providing more than $200,000 to local libraries and Aboriginal communities across their operating areas in Alberta and Saskatchewan. Staff from the company also volunteered in several related literacy events.
"As a proud Canadian energy company, we asked ourselves, 'what can we do in our communities that means something to them and that aligns with what we support'," explains Vicki Reid, Director, Community Affairs at Cenovus.
Libraries are an important community hub, especially in smaller communities, because they house a variety of essential programs and services on a range of topics like reading and early literacy, computer competency and skills for newcomers and those seeking employment.
These strategic donations to more than 20 separate libraries honour our country's past and future by reaffirming our continued commitment to learning and literacy and building the strength and well-being of our communities.
Celebrating Aboriginal culture
In addition to Cenovus' literacy donations, they are acknowledging the special role that Aboriginal culture plays in Canada by providing their Aboriginal communities with funds to celebrate in ways that are meaningful to them this year.
For example, the McMurray Metis Local 1935 held their annual Metis Festival recently and Cenovus provided funds to support the event.
"It is so encouraging to know that a company such as Cenovus gives back to our Indigenous communities and helps us celebrate such meaningful traditions," says Gail Gallupe, President of McMurray Metis Local 1935.
Thanks to a Cenovus donation, they were able to host a fish fry and provide fish and bannock for more than 1,800 kids. In total, 19 Aboriginal communities will benefit from these donations.
It's Not Too Late to Celebrate!
There is still half a year left of Canada's 150th birthday party. It's not too late to harness the power of your employees and leverage your community investment to generate a positive impact in your communities - something truly worth celebrating. On Canada Day ask 'how can your organization wish Canada a Happy Birthday'?