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Jun 24, 2024 | Blog

Reflections on Non-Profit North: A Landmark Event for Northern BC’s Non-Profit Sector

By Zahra Esmail, CEO of Vantage Point, and Kishone Roy, Executive Director of the Federation of Community Social Services

Non-Profit North, an event co-hosted by Vantage Point and the Federation of Community Social Services of BC (FCSSBC), was a significant milestone for the community social services sector in Northern British Columbia.

This gathering marked a much-needed return to in-person events post-COVID-19, aimed at fostering connections, sharing knowledge, and addressing the unique challenges and opportunities faced by non-profit organizations in this region.

A shared vision for community engagement

At the heart of Non-Profit North was a shared vision between Vantage Point and The Federation: to engage deeply with non-profits in Northern BC, listen to their experiences, and facilitate meaningful connections among leaders and changemakers.

This event was a testament to the strong sense of community and shared purpose that exists among organizations in Northern BC, as we all navigate a landscape filled with distinct challenges. By coming together, we sought to harness collective efforts and knowledge sharing to better serve the sector and the communities it supports.

Highlights of the event

One of the most memorable moments was Dr. Dustin Louie’s keynote address. As a First Nations scholar from Nee Tahi Buhn and Nadleh Whut’en, Dr. Louie brought unique insights into transformative reconciliation, enriching the discourse with perspectives deeply rooted in local knowledge and experience.

Additionally, the session co-led by Prairie Chiu, Vantage Point’s Director of Engagement and Advocacy, and Zahra Esmail, provided a comprehensive overview of the 2024 State of BC’s Non-Profit Sector Survey and ongoing initiatives to convene a BC Non-Profit Network. This session sparked essential discussions about regional equity and advocacy opportunities, which are crucial for advancing the sector’s collective goals.

Chiu and Esmail also facilitated a session on Board Diversity & Inclusion, addressing critical issues that impact the effectiveness and representativeness of non-profit boards. The engagement and enthusiasm of participants highlighted the sector’s commitment to these values.

The importance of in-person gatherings

The palpable enthusiasm and active participation from attendees at Non-Profit North were truly inspiring.

We are deeply grateful for the opportunity to meet leaders from across Northern BC, to build stronger relationships, and to gain a deeper understanding of the regional nuances affecting local non-profits.

Their presence and engagement are invaluable as we continue to build trust and reciprocity with the sector in Northern BC.

Personal reflections from Zahra Esmail

On a personal note, Non-Profit North was a profoundly enriching experience for me.

The opportunity to reconnect with the vibrant communities in Northern BC was both professionally rewarding and personally fulfilling. I was particularly moved by the openness and resilience of the non-profit leaders I met. Their stories of perseverance in the face of unique regional challenges reinforced my belief in the power of collaboration and shared learning…and the strength of our mighty sector!

Looking ahead: Sustaining momentum

As we reflect on the success of Non-Profit North, we are inspired by the impact it has had on the non-profit sector in Northern BC. The momentum generated by this event has sparked new collaborations, deepened relationships, and developed a sense of shared purpose. Our commitment to being curious learners and building relationships of trust will guide our efforts as we move forward. We are excited about the journey ahead, confident that together, we can work towards a more connected, cohesive, and thriving non-profit sector.

Personal reflections from Kishone Roy

For me, the highlight was the opportunity to connect with the diverse community of Prince George and the surrounding areas. The transformation of the region’s diversity over my lifetime has been remarkable, and it was heartening to see the vibrant mix of people and cultures. The moments of connection and reflection underscored the importance of in-person engagement, which had been sorely missed during the pandemic years.

Building an annual tradition

Looking ahead, we aim to establish Non-Profit North as an annual gathering in Prince George. This will involve discussions with partners, boards, and members, but the enthusiasm and success of this year’s event will give us confidence in the future. We eagerly anticipate the next steps and the ongoing journey of collaboration and growth within the non-profit sector in Northern BC.

In conclusion, Non-Profit North was more than just an event; it was a testament to the power of coming together, sharing knowledge, and building a stronger community. As we continue to reflect on the insights gained and the connections made, we are inspired and motivated to keep working towards a vibrant and thriving non-profit sector in Northern BC.

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