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Enabling Communities — The Philia Story

In 1993, a small group of Canadians began meeting to consider the question:

"What would it take to create in Canadian communities a genuine welcome of marginalized people, an appreciation of the gifts of diversity and a greater capacity to care?"

In 1997, with the sponsorship of the J. W. McConnell Family Foundation, we launched a feasibility study in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec, to see if this vision was shared in other sectors of society. We wanted to network with other people who believed in building vibrant, hospitable communities.

Response was overwhelming and positive—enough to inspire the McConnell Foundation to contribute to our project for five years. The foundation recognizes that while people on the margins of society are the most vulnerable, they can also provide the spark for innovative change.

In June 1999, a steering committee of thinkers, doers and innovators from across the country began considering how to inspire vibrant, inclusive communities. With an emphasis on innovation, respect for thoughtful analysis and a belief that we can learn from human traditions, the project took its name from the ancient Greek word for neighbourly love: Philia.

We believe there are countless opportunities to enable people who have been marginalized to flourish in dignity and take their place as full citizens.

We are taking cues from a range of community activists and thinkers, examining how changes in society reflect on culture and history. We are collecting stories of a new way of living, to provide glimpses of a better future. And we are developing consensus among influential in society about how we can shape stronger, more vibrant communities.

Thank you to the Directors and staff of the JW McConnell Family Foundation. We appreciate your support and encouragement.

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