ROI extends appreciation to the incredible partners supporting Rural Change Makers.
Rural Change Makers marked the halfway point in their leadership journey with a gathering January 19th-21, 2024 at an Ignite Action weekend in Huron County, on Ontario’s west coast. At this event young leaders practiced leadership skills they have been building since the Fall of 2023, and began to formulate their action plans for the community economic development portion of their program – February to August 2024. You can discover more about these young leaders by visiting their profiles online here: Rural Change Makers Group | ROI Connect.
What a wonderful and productive weekend with such valuable contributions from youth attending as well as mentors and coaches like Community Futures Huron and Huron County leaders coming alongside these change makers as they developed their community economic development plans and projects. Partner contributions and support means a great deal to change makers and they were buzzing with inspiration, excitement and a sense of accomplishment from their mentorship sessions. Your support has ignited their passion, plans and goals moving them one big step forward toward actioning those plans and ideas with their communities.
It was exciting to see the majority of plans aligning with what we refer to as an Independent Community Economic Development Pathway, where change makers will engage with community as active contributors to the change they are striving to build, addressing issues of importance in their communities. I am thrilled to share with you some of the incredible ideas and plans that have emerged among change makers:
- Food Security Enterprise start-up in a remote FN community including a comprehensive business plan for an innovative agriculture enterprise that aims to provide fresh, affordable and nutritious produce to community members year-round.
- Social Services-Food Enterprise start up serving at-risk community members, offering wrap-around supports for individuals experiencing poverty/homelessness and providing affordable food services to local agencies and business as an income generative business model. A comprehensive business plan has been drafted for a multifaceted community hub, fostering a supportive environment for vulnerable and underserved populations, where a licensed social worker will manage cases and offer referrals to ensure holistic support.
- Backyard Ecosystem Project – promoting diversity and pollinator gardens one neighbourhood at a time in Hensall ON
- The creation of Brant County’s first official Pride
- A rural story telling project capturing the sustainable agricultural practices of the local Mennonite farming community
- Development and delivery of “The Alice Munro Festival of the Short Story” seeking to nurture emerging writers and celebrate short stories in the rural landscape that inspired Alice Munro (Huron County). The annual Festival holds writing workshops, showcases Canadian authors, on-stage performances, visual arts, a community dinner, and a short-story contest for youth and adults.
- Development of a beekeeping enterprise in St. George ON. To learn more Visit Henderson Apiaries
- A Safe, Clean Parks initiative bringing the community/city of Timmins together to maintain safe and cleaner recreational (park) environments.
- Parks and Recreational Safety/Clean Up project working with the Indigenous and 2SLGBTQIA+ to clean up the environment (Timmins region) and promote safety for residents and wildlife.
- A Youth-focused project for children in remote Sachigo Lake First Nation, to provide access to safe spaces that foster healthy choices, recreational activities and programming for underserved youth.
- Succession Planning for a clean mega-energy project serving 24 remote First Nations: 2 change makers have identified plans to work with community members and leaders of 24 remote partner Nations of the mega clean energy project Wataynikaneyap in NW ON to develop a long-term succession plan with the collective.
- Development of an “Elder Program” in Poplar Hill First Nations to preserve, protect and pass on Indigenous cultural and heritage to school-aged youth in the community who face educational insecurities.
- Start up of a financial literacy project with the support of local community in Pikangikum First Nation to help the youth build financial literacy and life skills.
- Production of a short film documentary of Poplar Hill First Nation to preserve and protect the cultural identity of this community through local youth engagement and visual storytelling.
- Development and delivery of a Rural Youth Summit to be held in the Fall of 2024, in collaboration with the Rural Ontario Institute and other youth. “Bridging the gap between newcomers/International students, rural youth and the broader rural community”.
- Expansion and support for the On-Farm Childcare program through the Durham Farm & Rural Family Resources to provide safe & exceptional childcare to local families in the agricultural industry. Learn more and support Durham Farm and Family Resources Here: Durham Farm & Rural Family Resources
- Development of a community food program in the Guelph region that fosters collaboration & builds bridges among diverse communities of newcomers and local rural residents while finding a common ground: sharing the warmth of food to reach the warmth of the heart.
- Expansion and investment in “And then I was Free.org” an indigenous & LGBTQ+ founded addiction & mental health servicing organization offering peer support programming to meet community members where they are in their journey. And then I was Free also provides corporate workshops.
To Learn More and Support “And Then I was Free Visit: https://www.andtheniwasfree.org/
And this is just the tip of the iceberg! We will be connecting with more change makers over the coming weeks in regular coaching sessions to further develop their project pathways and support them throughout their community works. As you can see what an incredible diversity of talented young people giving back to rural communities and building brighter futures. We are excited to celebrate these achievements with you in the work of these amazing emerging leaders, and the impact of your gifts and contributions that are instrumental in coaching these dreams toward action.
We look forward to supporting change makers as they move forward on their plans. ROI will be sending out Mentorship Alignment charts to share mentorship opportunities, invite partners to share their expertise and facilitate mentor and coach alignment with emerging leaders during their community economic development activities from February to August 2024.