Spring Newsletter – Inaugural Edition

CEO Insight

Spring is the season of growth and new opportunities; since the new year, the Inspirit Foundation has really embraced these principles. With “scrappy” and ambitious roots in Vision Television, a groundbreaking network that dared to lead, we seek to create a more inclusive Canada where differences are valued and everyone has equal opportunity to thrive socially and economically. We work towards this goal by supporting young change leaders, funding media and arts for change initiatives, impact investing, and collaborating with organizations across sectors. Within the past quarter, we’ve launched new granting programs, established new ways of engaging change leaders online, and made an unprecedented commitment to a 100% impact portfolio.

However, this inaugural newsletter is not intended to be a list of our accomplishments. It’s a celebration of stories (within and outside of Inspirit) and information sharing. Equally important, the production of this newsletter coincides with the departure of one of our beloved long-time board members, Dale Godsoe. As the founding chair of Inspirit, Dale has been a beacon of guidance as she led the organization through the complex transition from a TV station to a public foundation. In her personal endeavours, Dale defines civic engagement and community leadership through the different positions she’s held in the education, not-for-profit, and arts and culture sectors. I’m personally thankful for her generosity and wisdom. Her indelible imprint on the organization along with the expertise and passion of our entire team will continue to propel us forward. On this note, we’re excited to welcome Alexandra “Alex” McCann, an Investment Attraction Executive with Nova Scotia Business Inc., independent consultant and proud Nova Scotian to our board.

I hope you find our newsletter enjoyable and informative.

Meet our team, our Change Leaders and our partners.

Andrea Nemtin
CEO and President


Ginger Gosnell-Myers

Congratulations to Ginger Gosnell-Myers on her new appointment as the City of Vancouver’s Aboriginal Relations manager.

Barbara Hall

Once again, Barbara Hall leads the way in socially just and compassionate community interventions.


Chris Lee

A Day in the Life of Inspirit Program Manager Chris Lee

Building inclusion has been an ongoing thread in my life and career, and I feel fortunate to work with an organization that has that as its central mission.

I speak to grantees on a daily basis. I strive to be a friendly guide. I do this by giving change leaders advice on how to bring project ideas to life through proper framing, championing their work, and/or connecting them to others doing similar work to help foster collaboration. Having worked on the grantee side of things for a number of years, I’m sensitive to the power dynamics that are in play when one group has access to financial resources and the other does not. I try to do my part in being an ally and partner during my interactions with change leaders and through my work developing accessible application system design and contributing to the evaluation process.

There are also a lot of great conversations in the office. This may sound kind of geeky, but one of my favourite moments was a conversation with my colleagues (including our CEO) that revolved around the danger of equating Islam to terrorism and the responsibility we have when talking about these types of issues in public. Language matters. My colleagues are critical thinkers and passionate about change. Having important conversations with my colleagues, supporting grantees, and contributing to system design is pretty much what my days look like. And I usually drink two coffees: one in the morning and one in the afternoon.


Grants and Evaluation

Inspirit recently launched two new granting programs to create greater levels of inclusion. ChangeUp grants are aimed at young change leaders (18-34) working on smaller local initiatives and Media and Arts for Impact grants are intended to support larger initiatives with a regional or national scope. In addition to these exciting funding opportunities, we also launched a scholarship for young media-makers to attend this year’s Story Money Impact conference with Tracey Friesen. The response from change leaders across Canada was astounding; we received 81 applications and were able to provide four media makers with scholarships.

Given the interest in this professional development opportunity, we’ve also hosted a Twitter Q&A event, which enabled all of the applicants to engage with Tracey Friesen in person and online; participants who attended the event in studio received a copy of her new book, Story Money Impact: Funding Media for Social Change.

Impact Investing

On January 19 we hosted an ‘impact investing breakfast’ where we announced our roadmap for a 100% impact portfolio, which is a commitment to align our entire asset base with our values. Our commitment to activate the foundation’s total portfolio for positive impact is unprecedented in Canada. At Inspirit we’re pleased to take this step and recognize a number of leading foundations in our sector doing exemplary work in this area. Since our announcement, we have been quick to put more of our money where our mouth is. As of January 19th, we have shifted 32% of our assets to increase their positive impact. At present, we’ve formally committed to three more impact investments in SolarShare via Community Power Capital, CoPower, and Innovation Works. Both SolarShare and CoPower finance clean energy infrastructure, while Innovation Works is a co-working space dedicated to social innovation.

Communications and Engagement

Since the beginning of the year, the communications and engagement department has placed an emphasis on enhancing Inspirit’s online presence to both build and deepen the quality of engagement with our young change leader network. We’ve begun to frame online resources using our internal expertise and centralize critical questions in our social media posts to encourage our network to not simply consume social justice narratives, but also to really analyze them. We believe that asking difficult questions and facilitating two-way conversations between and across this group will play a critical role in helping us all to address complex, intersecting issues of discrimination.

A particularly dynamic initiative demonstrating the power of conversation and bringing a diverse range of people together was our recent digital storytelling project. In February we convened a group of change leaders to record their personal experiences of discrimination and vision for collective change. Jenna Tenn-Yuk shared a powerful spoken word poem exploring the use of the term “minority”. Chris Penrose shared a story of loss and what he passionately describes as “violence against potential.” Mohammed Hashim explained the multiple contributions that Muslim Canadians have made to our society, which demonstrate their desire to contribute to the country where their “feet are planted.” Coty Zachariah vulnerably expressed how not having exposure to his Indigenous culture was both a knowledge and spiritual gap. We look forward to sharing these stories later this year and continuing to use video, our new blog, social media, and traditional media to facilitate meaningful conversations.


Spring Newsletter - Grantee in Focus

For Joella Cabalu, her passion as a documentary filmmaker comes from a very personal place. Her roots as a child of immigrants from the Philippines mean that questions of identity and belonging are always at the forefront of her mind. She regularly gets asked where she’s really from, even though she thinks of herself as simply being from Vancouver, a city she grew up in since the age of six. As a woman of colour carving out a career in the documentary filmmaking industry, Joella found that stories of personal struggle by and about people from the margins are seldom told, and less so with authenticity and respect.

Joella isn’t afraid to draw from her personal experiences to craft her film projects. That’s why, in her first feature documentary “It Runs in the Family,” Joella trained her lenses on her brother Jay and his journey to reconcile his sexual identity with their family’s Catholic beliefs. In writing, directing and producing the film, Joella travelled from Canada to California and the Philippines to find other family members who were facing a similar challenge: coming out as gay to practicing Catholic families. The documentary is set to debut in summer 2016 on OUTtv Network and will push its audience to consider what intersectionality looks like for people who identify as immigrant, queer and Christian. We are proud to support young change leaders like Joella.


How has ‘Allah’ become code for ‘terrorism’?
by Azeezah Kanji

Ontario’s anti-racism directorate is a promising start
by Michael Coteau

Don’t mistake response to violence for violence itself
by Desmond Cole

Too easy to ignore indigenous people?
With Ryan MacMahon

Canada ‘an inspiration’ on Syrian refugee settlement
by Nicholas Keung

Docs and Philanthropists: Do We Have a Match?
by Marc Glassman and Judy Wolfe

National Poetry Month 2016
by Desmond Cole

A few words to convey our deep appreciation for outgoing board member Dale Godsoe: