Examples of projects - Women in Rural, Remote and Northern Communities: Key to Canada's Economic Prosperity

Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada

Building an Inuit Women in Business Network

October 2011 to March 2013

Purpose of project: As part of the Government of Canada's commitment to address key barriers to Aboriginal women's participation in the Canadian economy, Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada is receiving funding from Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada and Status of Women Canada for its pilot project, Building an Inuit Women in Business Network. The project, which is based in Iqaluit, seeks to develop financial literacy and support microentrepreneurship among Inuit women in the region. It will also provide business development tools and capital to help Inuit women entrepreneurs establish and run viable, sustainable businesses.

An advisory committee will help oversee the project and will seek to ensure local partnerships provide tailored supports for Inuit women in business. The project will also implement a peer mentorship model and develop resources, including a toolkit, for Inuit women in business.

Potential outcomes or impacts: a toolkit for enhancing Inuit women's financial literacy and entrepreneurship in the North; a web-based information portal; a peer/mentorship program model; a national roundtable; and an in-depth final report and evaluation.

The results of this project – and the lessons learned – will be used to ensure Aboriginal entrepreneurs in a range of contexts have access to the tools and supports they need to start and grow their businesses.

Girls Action Foundation

Girls and Young Women's Leadership for Rural Community Development in Canada

July 2011 to June 2013

Purpose of project: The Girls Action Foundation is receiving funding from the Government of Canada's Rural Secretariat for a project to promote girls' and young women's participation and leadership in rural community development. Ensuring the leadership skills of local youth is critical to the long-term sustainability of rural and northern communities, where female youth are often disadvantaged in multiple ways. The overall objectives of the Girls and Young Women's Leadership for Rural Community Development in Canada project are:

  • to increase knowledge exchange among diverse rural organizations on leadership development of female youth;
  • to develop and disseminate tools for rural organizations to foster young women's leadership and contribution to community development; and
  • to support local projects led by young women in 10 rural communities to address key community development issues.

Upon completion, a total of 40 community organizations and 380 youth from rural/northern communities across Canada will have directly engaged in the project. Activities include production of a profile of rural girls and development of learning labs on community development.

Potential outcomes or impacts:

  • among rural decision-makers and stakeholders, increased awareness of the status of rural girls and young women;
  • among community organizations, improved skills and knowledge to foster girls' and young women's active participation in community development; and
  • among young women, increased confidence as well as experience, skills and knowledge of community development.

Status of Women Council of the Northwest Territories

Northern Women in Mining, Oil and Gas

2 years (results of project February 2010)

Purpose of project: This pilot project targeted 130 unemployed or under-employed northern women, many of whom were Aboriginal, with an interest in non-traditional occupations in the mining and oil and gas industry. The project included a comprehensive suite of supports and services, including counselling, financial supports and culturally appropriate training.

The project was built on a strong partnership with the Government of Northwest Territories, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (recently renamed Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development), Aurora College and industry stakeholders, including BHP Billiton Diamonds, Diavik Diamond Mines and De Beers Canada. The NWT Status of Women Council and its partners also contributed project funds.

Potential outcomes or impacts: The ambitious target – employment and/or formal apprenticeship for 75% of participants – was not met. However, the project did measure significant improvements in the self-confidence, self-esteem and essential skills of the women involved. In addition, participants significantly improved their understanding of the trades as a potential occupation and of their trades-related skills.

Lessons for future initiatives include:

  • The need for community-based (vs. centralized) training. Community-based training is needed to adequately understand and address the barriers to training and employment (such as shortage of adequate childcare and other family responsibilities) faced by women in the North. It will also help to integrate women's labour-market participation into a plan that addresses the needs of the community as well as those of the individual.
  • The need for greater employer engagement in addressing community needs. The project results strongly indicate that support to individuals (e.g., funds for training and education) reaps greater rewards (e.g., persistence in employment) when paired with employer/community-based support. By combining community development with individual worker development, the likelihood of successful transition into the workplace and the workforce (and therefore a positive outcome from the employer's financial investment) increases significantly.

Tri-County Women's Centre Society, Nova Scotia

Sexual Violence Against Women and Girls in South West Nova: Reducing the Harm / Reducing the Violence


Purpose of project: This project facilitated the development of a community framework on sexual violence in Nova Scotia's Tri-County Area (Yarmouth, Shelburne and Digby). Women and girls who were survivors of sexual abuse worked closely with community and government service providers on an approach to ensure coordinated, appropriate and adequate services to female victims of sexual violence. With funding from Status of Women Canada, the Tri-County Women's Centre Society identified existing services and violence prevention programs in the community, explored gaps and service challenges and developed a response framework to ensure local women and girls can live free of sexual violence.

Outcomes or impacts: 400 women and girls engaged in focus groups and community meetings to develop a Harm Reduction Strategy Framework. Another 1,000 women/girls and 40 to 60 agencies were reached through community engagement.

As a result of this project, women and girls in the Tri-County area have a greater knowledge of sexual violence and where to get help when they need it. Other outcomes include:

  • more women contacting the Tri-County Women's Centre for information (and disclosure of sexual violence);
  • strengthened partnerships between communities and government stakeholders to examine models of service delivery;
  • increased awareness among key stakeholders and commitment to future planning and activities to address sexual violence; and
  • Tri-County community's ability to articulate its service delivery model on sexual violence as it works with the provincial government to address the issue.

Childcare Coalition of Manitoba

Promoting Economic Security and Work-Family Balance for Rural and Northern Women in Manitoba


Purpose of project: Supported by funding from Status of Women Canada, the Childcare Coalition of Manitoba worked with women and community partners to provide information on the many ways childcare can promote local economic development while enhancing women's economic security and reducing work-family conflict. The project undertook five community sub-projects with rural and northern women's community groups. A series of educational workshops about the social and economic impacts of childcare were also offered.

Potential outcomes or impacts: Public education sessions were held on expanding childcare options in rural areas. These resulted in municipal governments and other community stakeholders drafting strategies to promote the important role of affordable, safe childcare in enhancing women's economic security. In addition, through their participation in the projects, local women gained skills that will help them identify and respond to changing economic opportunities.

Lanark County Interval House
(Lanark County, Ontario)

My Webworld: Truth for Rural Youth (TRY)


Purpose of project: This 24-month project, funded by Status of Women Canada, will create an internet forum for youth aged 12 to 18 years in Lanark County, Ontario. The project will use web-based technology to engage youth in rural areas to raise awareness of violence against women and girls. The organization will partner with school boards and other organizations that provide internet access to youth, such as libraries, internet cafés and youth centres. The project will focus on topics selected by youth and will develop web resources (e.g., an interactive website; webinars on critical issues for youth (cyber-safety and bullying, sexualized violence, etc.); and a phone/iPod application for youth participants to help raise awareness and prevent abuse of women and girls).

Potential outcomes or impacts: This youth-led project will work to enable young women and girls, young men and boys to better identify and respond to issues of gender-based violence in their communities. This project will help create youth leaders and develop awareness of the issues of gender identity, gender inequalities, violence against women and positive modeling for both female and male students. It will also provide an anonymous and safe forum for rural youth to explore these issues in ways that appeal to them, thus increasing the likelihood of their participation. The website www.trylanarkcounty.com was launched in October and the response to date is very encouraging.


Women's Policy Office, Newfoundland and Labrador

Provincial Aboriginal Women's Conferences

Ongoing since 2006

Purpose of project: The provincial government has sponsored the Aboriginal Women's Conference since 2006. The yearly meetings provide Aboriginal women living in rural Newfoundland and in remote regions of Labrador with an opportunity to come together, share information and advise the provincial government on social, legal, cultural and economic policies of importance to them and their communities. Sponsored by the Women's Policy Office, the Aboriginal Women's Conference is unique in Canada.

The recommendations that come out of the conferences are used in the development and improvement of provincial policies, programs and services. There have been six conferences to date, all addressing a broad range of topics including culture, the justice system, governance, employment, entrepreneurship, resource-based economic opportunities, violence, housing, access to programs and health care.

Potential outcomes or impacts: As a result of these conferences, the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador has:

  • established a violence prevention grants program for Aboriginal women to advance projects of importance to their communities;
  • provided capital and operating funding for two women's shelters (one specifically for Inuit women) in remote regions of Labrador;
  • provided funding to the Newfoundland Aboriginal Women's Network;
  • established an equity clause in the 2010 Labrador Training Partnership Fund, which resulted in 40% of all funding going to Aboriginal female participants;
  • shared recommendations on Aboriginal women's employment and training needs with oil and mining operators that have obligations for women's employment plans and business access strategies;
  • increased the number of Aboriginal women appointed to provincial agencies, boards and commissions; and
  • established an Inuit Women's Capacity Building Program that helps connect Inuit women to provincial programs and services for poverty reduction and business development.


Centre de La Croisée de Portneuf, Quebec

Femmes recherchées
[Women in demand]

Ongoing since 2002

Purpose of project: This program targets women aged 16 and up in the Portneuf area who are not in the workforce. The Rural and Co-operatives Secretariat has contributed financially to the initiative. It includes a personal development component to foster self-confidence, self-esteem and interpersonal relations with peers; a component on self-knowledge and labour market awareness to help participants realize their skills and understand what employers are looking for; and a component on job search techniques, which deals with résumé writing, letters of introduction and job interviews. The participants become familiar with the different work environments and various types of training for which they are eligible. If they wish, they can undertake internships to confirm that they have made the right choices.

Potential outcomes or impacts: In the 10 years since it began, the program has assisted close to 400 women in their efforts to return to work. It has also helped to provide greater flexibility for those interested in registering with the adult education centre or the return-to-work program at the local employment centre. For three years, it has also offered peer mentoring for women returning to work.


Collège Educacentre College, British Columbia

Family Literacy: A Key to Integrating Immigrant Women in British Columbia

April 11, 2011 – December 31, 2012

Purpose of project: The goal of this project (with funding from the Government of British Columbia) is to help francophone immigrant women living in dispersed communities in western Canada acquire or improve literacy and essential skills, which in turn will help them integrate into their receiving community. Francophone immigrant women face different challenges from other francophone women, such as unfamiliarity with Canadian cultural values in the fields of education, society and economics. Isolation and a lack of information and resources are also obstacles in terms of their role within their family.

This project consists of two phases: 1) – A study on the specific family literacy needs of immigrant women in British Columbia, and 2) – The development of two programs, including an online program for women who do not have access to services in their community, and family literacy tools based on the results of the study. These programs will be tested with immigrant women in Vancouver, Surrey and Prince George. The results will be compiled and analyzed.

Potential outcomes or impacts: Francophone immigrant women will have access to family literacy tools adapted to their needs; literacy stakeholders will have the necessary tools to work effectively with immigrant women; strategic partnerships with organizations working with the target audience will help reach the target clientele; increased levels of literacy and essential skills will enable francophone immigrant women to contribute more to community and family life.


Fédération des agricultrices du Québec, Longueuil, Quebec

Amélioration de la vie des femmes en agriculture
[Improving the lives of women in agriculture]

March 2008 to March 2009

Purpose of project: With funding from Status of Women Canada, the project sought to improve living conditions of women farmers and to promote their professional recognition. It covered a dozen Quebec regions: Abitibi-Témiscaminque, Bas-Saint-Laurent, Beauce, Centre-du-Québec, Côte-du-Sud, Estrie, Lanaudière, Mauricie, Québec City, Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, Saint-Hyacinthe and Val-Jean (Valleyfield).

The Fédération first surveyed some 3,000 women farmers in these regions to develop a socio-economic profile of this group. It then trained 200 women farmers to become leaders and change agents in their communities; 700 others had access to training locally to upgrade their knowledge.

Potential outcomes or impacts: The project has highlighted important facts, such as the women's level of investment in their business and their involvement in various union and social organizations, as well as their earnings and off-farm work, which provides them with additional income that can contribute to the working capital of their farm business. Note that the Fédération has used this information to draw up action plans, promote agricultural training, and support its discussions on balancing work and family life.

Approximately 700 women farmers attended leadership workshops. The participants can now contribute more effectively to the work of different boards and can apply the knowledge they have gained to other fields, including the day-to-day management of their businesses.


Women's Enterprise Centre

Taking the Stage: Leadership Skills Training Targeting Aboriginal, Immigrant and Entrepreneur Women in British Columbia

36 months, launched on April 30, 2010

Purpose of project: This project provides leadership skills training to 23 volunteer facilitators from local Aboriginal, immigrant, youth and women's business organizations in nine rural British Columbia communities. It is funded, in part, by Status of Women Canada. Participants include Aboriginal women and immigrant women from the Ismaili, Chinese and African communities.

In addition to the economic, geographic and socio-cultural challenges faced by all women in rural areas, Aboriginal, immigrant and women entrepreneurs in rural British Columbia face further challenges in accessing leadership and decision-making training.

Potential outcomes or impacts: Participants will gain confidence, strengthen leadership and communication skills and feel empowered to overcome barriers. In turn, they will help create economic prosperity and security for themselves, their communities and the country.


Salt Spring Women Opposed to Violence and Abuse (SWOVA)

Pass It On: Women and Girls Working Together for Safety, Phase II

15 months, launched on August 16, 2010

Purpose of project: This project provides girls and young women in five geographically isolated communities in British Columbia with the skills they require to take on leadership roles in preventing violence against women. The program trains young women to mentor younger girls, co-facilitate violence prevention workshops and play an active and central role in preventing violence and abuse in their communities. The program receives funding from Status of Women Canada.

Potential outcomes or impacts: The project fosters confidence and leadership capacity among young women in isolated communities where violence and abuse are often a daily reality. Leadership training and violence prevention education help youthful participants feel empowered to address violence against women and girls in their communities.


Membertou Entrepreneur Centre (Nova Scotia)

The Balance Initiative – Empowering Aboriginal Business Women in Atlantic Canada


Purpose of project: Aboriginal communities in Atlantic Canada are, for the most part, located in rural and remote areas where business people, particularly women, feel isolated and at a disadvantage in the marketplace. In response and given the increased demand from Aboriginal women for training in business, the Membertou Entrepreneur Centre in Membertou, Cape Breton Island, developed the Balance Initiative. This project received funding from federal departments (Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, Enterprise Cape Breton Corporation and Aboriginal and Northern Affairs Canada) and provincial governments (Nova Scotia and New Brunswick). The Balance Initiative, which includes business forums and workshops, business skills certification programs and research, supports business start-ups and expansion in Atlantic Canada.

Outcomes or impacts: From 2008 to 2010, the Centre coordinated a series of successful business forums for women in business in Nova Scotia and the Atlantic provinces. A total of 400 participants took part.

In 2009, the Centre launched its Membertou Certificate Program, which included business programs and innovative training styles adapted to women in business from Membertou and the Unama'ki Territory (Cape Breton Island). The program demonstrated clear and successful outcomes and continued to be delivered in 2010 and 2011.

A 2010 evaluation of the Balance forums showed Aboriginal women participants had established new businesses, expanded existing businesses and created long-term partnerships for business. Key recommendations included more networking and more business development training.

Collectivité ingénieuse de la Péninsule acadienne (CIPA) Inc.

ParCelles : un modèle web de produits d'accompagnement et de renforcement communautaire par elles qui sont victimes de violence
[ParCelles: A web model of community reinforcement and support products by women victims of violence]

January 13, 2009 to May 31, 2011

Purpose of project: The project was designed to reduce violence against women in six rural Acadian and francophone regions of New Brunswick (with funding from Status of Women Canada). The organization wanted to develop a support model using information technology to empower victims and help them break the cycle of violence. It had three specific objectives: (1) to give women who are victims of violence tools to break the cycle of violence through an online learning model adapted to local realities; (2) to activate the www.parcelles.ca website, offering forums for virtual learning and discussion (open to the public or to subscribers only), as well as a directory of resources; and (3) to develop an integrated support model building on existing community services, within a sustainable development framework.

Potential outcomes or impacts: In all, 464 women participated to a greater or lesser degree in developing the project. A community support model—Être là pour Elles! [Being there for the women]—was created in partnership with different community stakeholders. The Fédération des femmes francophones de la Nouvelle-écosse helped design the model, which was made available to 1,355 key partners (halfway houses, administrators, organizations, employers, etc.). This partnership also resulted in a "how-to" guide, of which 500 copies were distributed.

As of June 2011, when the final report was submitted, 2,470 women from New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and elsewhere had visited the website or used the tools found there.


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