The last few years have been rich in learning and growing for our Cape Breton initiative, Northside Rising. The collective work, particularly working with people who use drugs, and also exploring hope and agency, has been inspiring. Projects, events and activities like the following have been well-subscribed and supported by the residents:
- the Northside Changemakers Program
- Storytelling sessions
- Open Space
- Supporting the creation of CAPED
- Invictus (research on Hope & Agency)
- Community round tables
- Community coffee houses
It is essential at this point is to acknowledge, celebrate and lift up the accomplishments of Northside residents.
As the needs of communities have shifted, we have adjusted our focus and approach. From working together to explore ways of maintaining social cohesion while fighting isolation and anxiety through the pandemic, deepening our attention to community trauma after the mass shooting in Portapique, to supporting community members and partners to creating warming spaces during hurricane Fiona.
Early this year, Inspiring Communities confirmed our evolution to an intermediary organization, meaning a move further into collaboration and further away from front line work. For the past few years, we have been exploring how best to deliver on our mission of centring equity* in systems transformation. The result of these changes are now being applied to our initiatives in Digby, Dartmouth and CBRM.
North Star Rising
The geographic scope for NSR has thus expanded across the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, in order to enfold more equity-deserving groups. Our strategy to transform systems is to centre diverse voices in decision-making processes, create capacity to act across island and work to foster a culture of collaboration which encompasses communities across the region. To reflect this change in scope and our aspirations for change, the initiative name has been changed to North Star Rising. A new, accessible and visible office location in Glace Bay places us in a new space, but outreach across the CBRM (and indeed across Cape Breton) is intended as we begin this new phase of our work.
*What do we mean by equity?
When we consider equity-deserving groups, we think in particular of working with and centering Indigenous peoples (Mi’kmaq, Wolastoqiyik and Passamaquoddy), historical African Nova Scotian communities, racialized newcomers, disabled community, and others, and 2SLGBTQIA+ communities that have been typically underrepresented and marginalized in social innovation spaces. We recognize intersectionality of identities, and the effect that intersectionality has on people interacting with systems.