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Community foundations at the front of smart, caring communities

Governor General brings message of hope to delegation of Sea to Sky Community organizations



Community foundations in the Sea to Sky region have answered the call to action in helping to create more smart and caring communities.

This was the message delivered by the Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, March 3 at an event at the Kay Meek Centre in West Vancouver.

Johnston and his wife Sharon were in the Lower Mainland for a two-day visit recognizing remarkable Canadians with awards and honours, as well as participating in a number of cultural, innovation-themed and community-building events.

The Sea to Sky community foundations, which include the Squamish, Whistler, Sunshine Coast, North Shore, West Vancouver and Bowen Island community foundations, hosted the event.

Johnston was last in Vancouver five years ago for the bi-annual Community Foundations of Canada Conference where he issued a call to action to create smarter and more caring communities ahead of Canada's 150th birthday in 2017.

He said community foundations across the country have answered that call and the foundations in the Sea to Sky region are no exception.

"This event is a wonderful example of what becomes possible through partnership," said Johnston. "Your region is culturally diverse and its rapidly changing demographics represent both a challenge and an opportunity. In short, while the Sea to Sky region is one of the most beautiful and prosperous regions in Canada, we can't afford to be complacent. That's why you are here today because you know there is always more to do and that we must do more."

Following Johnston's presentation, Chris Kennedy, Superintendent and CEO of West Vancouver Schools, hosted a short panel discussion with Johnston and community members, including business owners and area youth. The discussion reinforced the need to work together across the region to build bridges and break down barriers.

"Canada is only as strong as its people and its communities. People don't just live in Canada — they live in West Vancouver, Bowen Island, Squamish, the North Shore and on the Sunshine Coast," added Johnston. "People live their daily lives in communities — communities are where the rubber meets the road. That's why your efforts are so vitally crucial in building a more smarter and caring Canada."

Carol Coffey, executive director of the Community Foundation of Whistler (CFOW), said Johnston's remarks were "inspiring."

"For us as the Community Foundation in Whistler we are still small and still growing, but it's inspiring because even though you are small you can still make a very big difference in the community through small grants or small acts of kindness that create that ripple effect," said Coffey.

CFOW President Robin Douglas said when he took over as president, he remarked that it takes a community to make a community and Johnston's comments reflected that.

"Caring and sharing is one of the drivers to finding out what the community cares about and what the community wishes to share," said Douglas. "The collaboration of the community foundations is so important and the Governor General certainly enforced that message today."