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The Belonging Initiative
Inspiring Action > The Belonging Initiative

The Belonging Initiative is a national collaboration to nurture belonging.

The premise of this initiative is that despite our awareness of the issue of isolation and loneliness, despite the growing body of knowledge related to promoting relationships, and in spite of our respective efforts to assist people who live on the margins, we have a long way to go. Far too many people with disabilities are alone except for the persons who are paid to be with them.

The goal of The Belonging Initiative is to nurture belonging and end isolation of persons with disabilities. We are guided by a fundamental belief in the importance of human connections and the possibilities for mutual enrichment that arise through such connections. We have a passionate sense that collectively we can develop a groundswell that will lead to a society in which everyone belongs!
The Belonging Initiative is informed by our experiences with people with disabilities. Over the past year a group of friends, advocates, parents and professionals, most of whom have a connection to people with disabilities, have been exploring solutions to this persistent social challenge of isolation and loneliness.
There are innovative "solutions" across this country to the problem of isolation and loneliness. But our individual efforts have been inadequate. We believe that a national collaboration is necessary to harness our collective resources, share our expertise and bring new resources to bear. It is time for action - deliberate, bold and strategic.
Solutions employed to end the isolation facing people with disabilities will ripple outwards and improve the situation of other isolated people. The experience and knowledge accumulated in ending isolation and loneliness for persons with disabilities will be directly applicable to other groups that are marginalized, including frail elderly, youth-at-risk, refugees and new immigrants. Communities in which people are better connected are healthier, realize the contributions of all citizens, and have lower health and social services costs. In other words, when people move from isolation to community, everybody benefits.
The Founding Members of The Belonging Initiative are:

  • Canadian Abilities Foundation
  • Canadian Association for Independent Living Centres
  • Canadian Down Syndrome Society
  • Developmental Disabilities Resource Centre of Calgary
  • Inclusion Press
  • Laidlaw Foundation
  • L'Arche Canada
  • Philia Dialogue on Caring Citizenship
  • PLAN Institute for Citizenship and Disability
  • Roeher Institute

More recently, the following organizations have declared their support for The Belonging Initiative:

  • The Center for Social Innovation
  • The Canadian Association for Community Living
  • The Institute for Canadian Citizenship

We are encouraged by the growth in support already taking shape and excited about the the near future of this Belonging Initiative becoming a Belonging Movement.

For more information, please visit our website or contact Brian Smith at

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