North Star Rising

Cape Breton, Nova Scotia

About Our Work

We believe that to transform systems meaningfully for all, we should begin by improving equity for historical African Nova Scotian communities, Indigenous peoples (Mi’kmaq, Wolastoqiyik and Passamaquoddy), racialized newcomers, persons with disabilities, and 2SLGBTQIA+ communities. Making systems work for these groups will make a significant difference for everyone in community.

Our initiative name has been updated to North Star Rising. We will reach out across CBRM and Cape Breton Island, developing innovative collaborative approaches to topics that matter to community, including food security, housing, youth success, belonging and employment.


How we work

Inspiring Communities’ Theory of Change says:

  • We put equity at the centre because improvements for equity-deserving people will help everyone.
  • We work with individuals and groups to build knowledge, skills, and ability, increase their awareness of systems approaches, foster motivation for collaboration and help them seize opportunity.
  • We work on external factors concurrently to help create conditions for success: shifting policies and practices, improving resource flow, build relationships & connections, transform power dynamics and establish new mental models.

Celebrating the Accomplishments of the Northside Communities from Inspiring Communities on Vimeo.

Our history

Over the past five years Northside Rising has been working primarily in the communities of North Sydney, Sydney Mines, Florence and area: the Northside. At the core of the work, we strove to collaborate in innovative ways across the community. Our achievements with the dedicated people in these communities include: 

  • Supporting the Rising Tide Festival, which opened the door to difficult conversations using music and cultural sharing;
  • 30 graduates of the Changemakers program learned life skills and effective ways to make change in their community;
  • We offered cross-sector training in Non-violent Crisis Intervention to over 200+ and training in Mental Health First Aid to over 100+ community members;
  • Community-based research we conducted (in partnership with Dr. Ed Michalik and Dr. Margaret Dechman) shed light on the state of hope and agency in the communities on the Northside;
  • By offering free art programming and removing cost barriers, we helped over 300 people connect with community and experience the therapeutic benefits of art making;
  • We helped mobilize community through hosting the Substance Use Roundtable and facilitating the creation of CAPED; hosting coffeehouses and storytelling sessions; and hosting documentary movies and community conversations on community trauma.

Our commitment to collaboration and innovation has not wavered, and we continually explore new methods to do so.  

After five years of learning and deep evaluative data collecting we have recognized it is time to evolve both the scope of our work and how we do it. While our work has always sought to lift marginalized voices, in 2022 we renewed our strategic directions, placing equity firmly at the centre. Therefore, today, our vision has expanded across Cape Breton. Our strategy to transform systems is by making space for and welcoming more diverse voices to decision-making processes, creating capacity to act and working to foster a culture of collaboration in communities across Cape Breton.