David McConkey

        Consultant   ::   Columnist   ::   Citizen

Canada Volunteerism Initiative (CVI) in Brandon / Westman 


Feature in Health Time magazine, March, 2007:   Big Brothers  Big Sisters

Feature in Health Time magazine, December, 2006:   WAVA - Westman Association of Volunteer Administrators

Feature in Health Time magazine, December, 2006:   Women's Resource Centre

Feature in Health Time magazine, September, 2006:   John Howard Society of Brandon

Feature in Health Time magazine, July, 2006:   SPIN - Suicide Prevention Implementation Network

Feature in Health Time magazine, July, 2006:   Family Volunteering

The Canada Volunteerism Initiative - CVI - was active for several years in Brandon and the Westman area. This work grew out of focus groups which were organized in 2002 and 2003 by MVSI - the Manitoba Voluntary Sector Initiative. Those focus groups identified the challenges faced by the voluntary sector.

Zack Gross, Executive Director of The Marquis Project, answered the call to further develop this initiative when CVI started in April 2003.  

Work in Brandon and Westman has centred around promoting voluntary organizations and volunteerism in the community. A series of articles, including colorful graphics and posters, were published in the In The City magazine; a display was made and used in various venues; and TV and other advertising was developed.

Capacity building sessions for the voluntary sector - including workshops and a youth focus group project on active citizenship at Deloraine Elementary School - were also organized. Another initiative was supporting the annual “Youth Educating Themselves on International Issues” (YETII) conference. This event, organized by The Marquis Project, focuses on active global citizenship and skills building for youth.

For three years, The Marquis Project co-ordinated the Brandon initiative, first with the leadership of Zack Gross, and later with Lynn Slobogian. Starting in April 2006, this role was assumed by David McConkey. David has experience with staff and volunteer positions with a number of voluntary organizations, including 15 years as the General Manager at Westman Recycling.

A major focus of the Brandon CVI work for this past year has been community visibility through printed materials, displays, media coverage, and several features in Health Time magazine. Another has been continuing participation in the YETII conference, the latest one occurring in March, 2007.

In the fall of 2006, however, the new federal government ended CVI nation-wide, by cutting the $9.7 million annual funding. CVI was a program delivered in part by Volunteer Canada nationally, and provincially by groups such as Volunteer Manitoba and local committees.

The elimination of CVI has been a disappointment to the volunteer community. Volunteer Canada points out that “supporting volunteerism is essential to the continued health and wellness of our citizens.” Citing one example, “Canada’s place in the world is strengthened by the many volunteers engaged in international development work.”

Volunteer Canada hopes that an alternative to CVI can be developed in the future, and is looking for “ways in which both the voluntary sector's priorities and the priorities of the federal government might be met.”

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