Skip to content

TAMARACK'S 2023 ANNUAL REPORT

The Power of Partnerships

COMMUNITY IS A VERB

Continue learning with us and join the Tamarack network!

Community Acknowledgements

 

LAND ACKNOWLEDGEMENT


Turtle Island (North America) is the ancestral homeland of Indigenous peoples of First Nation, Métis, and Inuit descent. We recognize that across this land Indigenous rights holders have endured historical oppression and continue to experience inequities that have resulted from the widespread colonialist systems and ideologies that perpetuate harm to Indigenous peoples to this day.

AFRICAN ANCESTRAL ACKNOWLEDGEMENT


We acknowledge those who came here as settlers — as migrants either in this generation or in generations past — and those of us who came here involuntarily, particularly those brought to these lands as a result of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and Slavery. We pay tribute to ancestors of African origin and descent and thank them for their contributions towards transforming systems in ways that promote everyone’s sense of belonging and safety.

RECONCILIATION COMMITMENT


Through self-reflection and an organization-wide commitment and ongoing EDIJR activities, the Tamarack Institute and the persons within it commit to greater awareness, building intention, respect, and reciprocity into the relationships we hold with Indigenous rights holders as we deepen our understanding, responsibilities, and commitments of reconciliation.

reflections from tamarack’s board

We draw energy from your wisdom, guidance, and belief that working together will lead to a more just and peaceful world.

As we stand at the crossroads of a year marked by unparalleled challenges, the Tamarack Institute, guided by its board of directors and dedicated staff team, finds itself deeply immersed in reflection. The year 2023 has unfolded as a tapestry of hardship across the globe, with nations grappling with pervasive income inequality, the devastating impacts of war, famine, human rights abuses, and escalating climate crises. Like a relentless wind that knows no borders, these challenges leave individuals, families, and entire communities at the mercy of forces beyond their control and mourning unbearable losses.

Canada, too, has not been spared, as we witness the ongoing struggle against deep-rooted inequities afflicting Indigenous nations and peoples, the barriers faced by immigrants in securing homes and jobs, and the relentless challenges posed by climate change, including the wildfires that have displaced countless communities in British Columbia, Ontario, and the Northwest Territories.

In this moment of profound urgency, the ethos of Tamarack is ever more crucial. At our core is the unwavering belief in the power of community to forge paths through these tumultuous times. Our collective conviction is that we can confront and overcome these crises by fostering a deeply connected and empowered society where everyone has a voice and a sense of belonging. At Tamarack, we understand that the foundation of meaningful change lies in continuously building trust—trust in our collective ability to make a difference, the power of collaboration, and the potential of every community to rise above its challenges. This trust, coupled with our extensive experience in facilitating impactful community collaboration and our proven skills in mobilizing diverse interested parties, enables us to light a path forward, inspiring hope and action among all generations, especially the youth who are pivotal to our collective future. Our vision is a nation free from the shackles of poverty, and a healthy vibrant planet achieved through the strength of community bonds and a duty of care.

2023-Board-Retreat-Montreal_Group-shot-03-goofy2023-Board-Retreat-Montreal-5-board-members-&-co-CEOs

Our commitment to this vision has never been stronger. The board, staff, and our expansive network of partners, members, learners, and investors are united in this cause. We draw on each other's wisdom, guidance, and shared belief in the transformative power of collaboration to craft a more equitable and peaceful world.

The past year has also been one of introspection and learning for us at Tamarack. An equity, diversity, and inclusion audit of our organization and its initiatives has affirmed our strengths and laid bare areas needing improvement. Based on the insights gained, we will implement a course of action over the coming years, promising transparency in sharing our journey's victories and setbacks.

We extend our deepest gratitude to our board of directors for their visionary leadership and to all of Tamarack's investors, whose contributions are vital in strengthening communities to face their unique challenges. Your leadership is a beacon of hope, illuminating a path toward impactful community engagement.

Furthermore, we wish to celebrate the remarkable leadership of our Co-CEOs, Liz and Danya, whose unwavering dedication to community change inspires us all. Their efforts, alongside the tireless work of our staff and the enduring support of our members and affiliates, embody the essence of Tamarack's mission. The achievements highlighted in our annual report are not just milestones but a testament to the collective effort and commitment of everyone connected to Tamarack.

Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, for all you do—within the walls of Tamarack, in your homes, and your communities. Your actions ripple outwards, creating waves of positive change that sustain us now and will carry us into the future, especially as we navigate these challenging times together.

Nation Cheong and Ana Gonzalez Guerrero
Chair and Vice-Chair of Tamarack's Board of Directors.
Nation-1Ana F. Gonzalez headshot

 


A Note From Our Co-CEOs

This is a note of deep appreciation to you – both for the privilege of being in community with you in 2023, and for the collaborative work you do in and across your communities. This year, so many communities are facing conflict, war, extreme climate events, the displacement of people, and the loss of hard-fought human rights. We grieve with each of you experiencing pain and loss, and we hold the essential role of community.  

TamarackCBYF2024-0304

Photo credit: Andrew Bulter

It has never been more essential, and it is the foundation of collaborative action as well as our ability to see each other’s humanity. We believe that it is through investing deeply in community that we can collectively work toward a safer, more just, and peaceful world. It is through your work and leadership in communities across Turtle Island and around the world that community is imagined, built, and made essential.  

The power of place as core to creating connections and belonging and to addressing complex challenges, such as climate transitions and supporting young people, all are strategies which contribute to Tamarack’s bold vision of ending poverty in all its forms.  

In 2023, we continued to bolster community-wide change by supporting individual changemakers, local place-based partnerships, and regional and national communities capable of shifting regional and national systems.  

  • We launched initiatives that responded to your passion for building the skills of collaboration. Thousands of you participated in the Changemaker Experience, French and English language Community Climate Transition cohorts, and an increasing amount of bilingual content and learning opportunities. 

  • Because local place-based work is central to driving deep, durable and impactful change, we continued to support a network of 90 regions and more than 400 community-based collaborative tables to build trust, relationships, and progress toward results across their communities. We continued to learn about how local collaborative leadership has a global impact. 

  • We worked together to shift policy and advocate for systems change. Working with Power of Discourse, we invested a full year in an equity, justice, diversity, and inclusion audit, and developed a multi-year action plan to ensure that equity is at the forefront of our work and partnerships. We activated public policies that centre belonging and youth voices. 

TamarackCBYF2024-0329
Photo credit: Andrew Bulter

 

At Tamarack, we believe how we do things is as important as what we do. Over the last year, we continued our commitment to distributed leadership. We are grateful to the managers of communities and community animators who are central to the connection with our community partners, to directors who animate the latest community change thinking through case studies, tools, webinars and workshops to make community work more connected and impactful. We’re grateful to all of you who shape community-driven work through your participation in national collaboratives, communities of practice, and cohorts.

We appreciate your support of each other, our relationships with you, and the collective impact of the work we do at local, regional, national and international scales to centre community. The stories that follow reflect your achievements and we hope you’ll find community in them. 

Thank you for all that you do.  

Danya Pastuszek (she/her) and Liz Weaver (she/her) 
Co-CEOs, the Tamarack Institute in collaboration with the Tamarack staff team
  • 0
    +
  • Members of the Tamarack network

  • 0
    +
  • views of 33 new resources in 2023

  • 0
  • Member communities including 14 French members focused on community climate transitions, belonging, poverty, and education

  • 0
  • Learners hosted virtually and in-person in 15 events

 

2023 Stories of Impact

 

Community is strength

Using Asset-Based Community Development to Build Community in Wetaskiwin, AB

This story is about a resident-led group called Connect Wetaskiwin. Wetaskiwin, a city of 12,600 people in Alberta, Canada, derives its name from the Cree word wītaskiwinihk, meaning "the hills where peace was made".  

Connect Wetaskiwin InfographicConnect Wetaskiwin started its journey in 2021 in hopes of connecting the community through a common vision using Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD). ABCD is a strategy that centres residents’ skills and assets while engaging them meaningfully in community change goals. Their mission is to foster strong relationships, build community pride and create opportunities for the people of Wetaskiwin.  

The collaboration started with two community members co-chairs and Alberta Health Services as the supporting organization. Together, a growing core group has navigated the challenges of losing a key partner, seeking sustainable funding, and engaging the community. Today, Connect Wetaskiwin: 

  • Is recognized as a group that has been positively influencing the community   

  • Has engaged local government through presentations to the Council  

  • Secured core funding 

  • Engaged with approximately 150 people through conversations and surveys  

  • Adopted goals and priorities that are shared across the collaborative 

  • Formed seven new working groups to advance these priorities 

Connect Wetaskiwin grew their knowledge and confidence through Tamarack’s Communities Building Belonging membership with over 30 hours of coaching, attending workshops, events and webinars. In 2024, Connect Wetaskiwin expressed they now have the capacity and skills to lead on their own, and without Tamarack.  

City of Wetaskiwin video

 

Community is mobilization 

Mobilizing for youth success across Turtle Island (North America) 

To better support young people across Turtle Island, a national initiative was born: Tamarack’s Communities Building Youth Futures. We have partnered with the Federal Government and 20 small, rural, remote, and/or Indigenous communities across Canada. Our mission is to invest in and engage young people, fostering community-wide strategies to support youth (aged 15 – 30) in graduating high school and smoothly and successfully transitioning into the workforce, post-secondary, training, and/or employment. 

TamarackCBYF2024-0265Photo credit: Andrew Bulter

Young people at the centre of decision-making: 

Over the past four years, Tamarack and our CBYF partners have prioritized youth involvement in decision-making. Nearly 50,000 young people in Canada have contributed to designing and participating in various initiatives, receiving holistic support in all areas of their lives. CBYF has proven that with access to coordinated services, mentorship, training, leadership opportunities, and social connections, youth not only graduate from high school but also become leaders and mentors in their communities. 

Collaboration in communities: 

Tamarack provided coaching to all 20 CBYF communities in Collective Impact – a disciplined form of multisector collaboration and leadership – to develop and implement local action plans. This collective approach enabled communities to leverage their strengths, engage their entire community, including business owners and other unexpected champions, and form support networks for young people. Through our initiatives, communities gained greater capacity to mobilize resources, address issues, and seize opportunities. 

Systems Change Strategies: 

Systems change strategies were incorporated into the CBYF initiative. These strategies disrupted the established patterns within sectors and institutions that perpetuate barriers to youth success. CBYF’s systems change efforts have resulted in new relationships between youth and community leaders, greater coordination among service providers, changes to public policy, and new funding flows and opportunities. 

TamarackCBYF2024-0295Photo Credit: Andrew Bulter

Learn more about CBYF and to find out how your community can better support youth!  

Read the CBYF Community Innovation Fund Impact Report and Issue Overviews 

  • 0
    +
  • young people participated in educational training, employment opportunities, youth surveys, community innovation projects, or received direct coaching and community supports

  • 0
  • youth were employed across the CBYF network itself

  • 0
    +
  • youth held leadership roles

  • 0
    %
  • of youth agree that the project strengthened their sense of belonging in their communities

  • 0
    %
  • of youth felt empowered to be part of community decisions & ensuring their voice was heard

  • 0
    %
  • of youth shared that the project guided them in exploring career options

  • 0
    %
  • of youth felt community pride

Community is collaboration

Beyond Poverty Reduction in Chuwapchipchiyan Kudi Bi (Canmore, AB)

Canmore saw how interconnected local challenges were, from poverty to social isolation to climate change. So, they partnered with Tamarack and together, we embraced a comprehensive approach to address the issues their communities were facing. 

Initially, through our Communities Ending Poverty network, the Town of Canmore played a pivotal role in the launch of the Alberta Living Wage Network, addressing economic disparities. They later joined Tamarack’s Communities Building Belonging network to build and nurture social connectedness. 

In 2022, Canmore and the Biosphere Institute of the Bow Valley teamed up and joined Tamarack’s Community Climate Transitions network, becoming one of our initial trailblazing communities. 

Biosphere-Institute-KoPhoto credit: Maryn Simrak

This multi-sector collaboration evolved into Accelerate Climate Action (ACA), with 20 advisory table members and community gatherings in 2022 and 2023. These gatherings seeded tangible climate action, including: 

  • Buildings: Organizing the Building for Sustainability symposium, educating 170 individuals on climate-conscious and socially conscious design.

  • Renewable Energy: Assessing geo-exchange systems for multi-family homes, potentially reducing utility bills by 30-40% with plans to invest in 1000+ affordable geothermal housing units

  • Waste Reduction: Piloting waste reduction strategies, leads to much less construction waste, with one builder diverting 11.68 tonnes and another diverting 49% of its waste.

  • Nature-Based Solutions: Supporting municipal partners in implementing eco-friendly solutions. 

accelerating-climate-actionPhoto credit: Maryn Simrak

The ACA received a 2023 Innoweave grant to work with Tamarack on impact strategies, community engagement, and data gathering and validation. Collaborating with Tamarack, the Town of Canmore, the Banff Canmore Foundation, and the Biosphere Institute of the Bow Valley, ACA continues to foster collective action and innovation for a resilient, inclusive community. 

Learn more about Tamarack’s Climate Transitions network and how your community can also spark tangible climate action through belonging and poverty reduction!  


Community is synergy

Organizing for young leaders in Laval, Quebec  

Tamarack’s Community Innovation Fund (CIF) is a funding opportunity for our Communities Building Youth Futures (CBYF) member communities. Community innovation supports change and action on issues and projects that are meaningful to residents of a town, city, or neighbourhood. The CIF granted additional funds for Collective Impact projects, such as the one located in the traditional territory of the Kanien’kehá:ka Nation (Laval, QC):

Thousands of people aged 14-30 were impacted by an initiative of the CBYF Laval team in 2023. They embarked on a unique journey, led by Regroupement Lavallois pour la réussite éducative (RLPRE), or the Laval Educational Success Alliance. Their mission was to unite educational institutions, non-profit organizations and community groups to work together and enhance academic and socio-professional integration for youth. They did this through innovative training and mentorship strategies.

Fifteen core partners successfully collaborated with over 60 organizations from diverse sectors. From government to health services; education to employment, all came together to support thousands of youths in educational success. Through tailored services, continuous support, and innovative projects, CBYF Laval created a culture of collaboration and support among youth-serving organizations.  

Tamarack facilitated this transformation by providing coaching, building network connections, and celebrating youth-led initiatives. The project not only addressed systemic challenges but also supported youth in leading and shaping their projects, involving them at every stage, resulting in improved academic performance and motivation. 

Learn more about CBYF and discover how you, too, can bring together multiple organizations to support the youth in your community! 

Community is collective action

Catalyzing Poverty Reduction in British Columbia

British Columbia is achieving impressive progress in poverty reduction. The province exceeded its targets of reducing overall poverty by 25% and child poverty by 50% in 2021. The success in 2021 is thanks to many local, regional and provincial community-based organizations, governments, and individuals across B.C. The new target is to reduce overall poverty by 60%, child poverty by 75% and senior poverty by 50% by 2034. 

Initially hosting Western Canadian communities in 2018 in Vancouver, alongside the Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, Tamarack demonstrated the importance of community-led strategies. We’re one of many organizations calling for poverty reduction efforts and support from the government in critical areas. 

Approved Stock Photos by Theme

In 2019, the Government of B.C. launched Together BC, a multi-ministerial poverty reduction strategy that engages people most affected by poverty. A $5 million Poverty Reduction Planning and Action Program was also launched for municipalities to develop and implement strategies with their communities. Since the fund was launched, there are now more poverty reduction strategies in B.C. than in any other province! 93 grants have been given to local governments and 58% of successful applicants are members of Tamarack’s Communities Ending Poverty (CEP) network. 47 communities have created strategies, representing 25% of local governments in B.C., of which 50% were CEP members. crp member gathering 1

Photo credit: Ruté Ojigbo

Tamarack and its member networks have raised awareness of place-based poverty reduction. We've helped motivate and mobilize communities to align with the provincial strategy, ready to partake in the Poverty Reduction Planning and Action Program. Onboarding grantees as new members, we offer learning series, coaching, and tools to increase their capacity and help spotlight success stories to inspire other communities to take collaborative action on poverty reduction. 


 

Special Recognition

 

Tamarack would like to give a special thank you to our community of learners, members, donors, partners and sponsors.  When someone or an organization offers a donation, contributes to a significant project, collaborates with our consulting directors, participates in a workshop, or becomes a member of our Networks for Change, they enter into a partnership with us. Our work would simply not be possible without these partnerships and the ongoing collaboration and commitment from this community.

A gift through Tamarack is a gift to communities across Canada and beyond. Donations of any size and type allow us to continue our collective mission to grow the capacity of changemakers, drive community-level change and shift systems for a more equitable world for all.  

From all of us at Tamarack and for the many individuals, organizations and communities we support, Thank you! We are so grateful for your continued support and belief in our mission.  

More stories from members of our network

CASE STUDY | A Place to Call Home: Cultivating Belonging in Housing Co-Operatives

CASE STUDY | A Place to Call Home: Cultivating Belonging in Housing Co-Operatives

This case study is written by Njoki Mbũrũ and Jorge Garza

CASE STUDY | Building on the...

Québec's solidarity-based collective culture is rooted in a rich history and a...

CASE STUDY | Supporting...

The members of First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities across Turtle Island...

CASE STUDY | Harnessing the...

In Quebec, the autonomous community movement is a driving force behind...

CASE STUDY | Building...

Social innovations abound in Quebec. Across the province, numerous changemakers...

CASE STUDY | Citizen...

Cette ressource est également disponible en français. Pour y accéder, veuillez...