CCUNESCO in Canada

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Implementing UNESCO Priorities at Home

In 2016/17, CCUNESCO continued to advise the federal government and support our members working towards a peaceful, equitable and sustainable future that leaves no one behind. The activities of our members are guided by the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and other UNESCO priorities; our “network of networks” also relies on collaboration and knowledge sharing among policy-makers, scientists, community leaders and Indigenous Peoples from across the country. CCUNESCO partnered with 60 Canadian organizations and initiatives last year, working towards goals such as Education for Sustainable Development and Global Citizenship Education, the preservation of tangible and intangible cultural and natural heritage, inclusive cities, and freedom of expression.

These valuable partnerships help promote UNESCO values, mobilize the public and nurture discussion among experts in a wide variety of fields. It was thanks to our members and partners that our “It Starts with Me” social media campaign for 2017’s International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination was so impactful; that girls and young women thinking about science careers received extra support and mentoring from remarkable female scientists; that our Youth Advisory Group is more vibrant and enthusiastic than ever; and that we were able to refresh our Sectoral Commissions to renew engagement and better align their work with CCUNESCO’s priority areas. Below you can find details about some of CCUNESCO’s 2016/17 achievements here at home.



Supporting Canadian Organizations and Initiatives

In 2016/17, CCUNESCO lent its patronage and support to more than 60 organizations and initiatives in Canada. Putting our name on projects that support education, sustainable development, freedom of the press, gender equity and reconciliation—to name only a few—has practical results: our powerful and meaningful brand helps multiply the effects of the valuable work Canadians do in service to UNESCO priorities. One such partnership is Wapikoni Mobile’s Reconciliation Through Media Arts project, which brings audiovisual creation workshops coast to coast to engage Indigenous youth and promote their voices through film. The project has launched the “Wapikoni, Cinema on Wheels” tour, a Canada150 initiative, which will screen 14 short films produced by Indigenous filmmakers who took part in the workshops. CCUNESCO provided moral support, facilitated meetings between Wapikoni Mobile and UNESCO to boost the project’s international profile, and mobilized our networks nationwide to participate in this meaningful initiative.

CCUNESCO also took part in several pan-Canadian social media campaigns last year, reaching thousands of policy-makers, educators, researchers, youth and community leaders, and others engaged in making a difference. These campaigns mobilize Canadians to find solutions to issues that affect us locally and globally, energize our members, and even change minds. Of particular note is the “It Starts with Me” campaign we spearheaded in the week leading up to the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on March 21, 2017. This bilingual campaign reached over 2 million people on Twitter alone and, on the day in question, #ItStartsWithMe was ranked the 5th top trending hashtag in Canada by 4pm EST. Ministers, Members of Parliament, municipalities and their mayors, and hundreds of organizations (e.g. libraries, schools, police forces, media outlets) were inspired to join in this recommitment to fight discrimination.



Partnering Strategically for Greater Impact

We are proud of our involvement in the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Awards, which awarded prizes to five new Canadian laureates in November 2016. We took this partnership even further in 2016/17 by inviting laureates to serve as role models for female students in the UNESCO Associated Schools Network. We also partnered with Exploring by the Seat of Your Pants on February 10 to celebrate the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. We invited girls to interact with outstanding female scientists and explorers through a daylong Google Hangout, which featured a keynote address by a L’Oréal-UNESCO laureate. We promoted the Day through our UNESCO Associated Schools Network and on social media with the help of the Canada Science and Technology Museum and Status of Women Canada. These strategic partnerships encourage girls and young women to think about science careers and lend support to those already working towards one.

One of the pillars of CCUNESCO is our Youth Advisory Group (YAG), a body of young Canadians committed to UNESCO priority areas such as sustainable development, gender equity, cultural heritage and the rights of Indigenous Peoples. YAG members advise CCUNESCO about significant issues in their communities, help us develop initiatives that make a local difference, and bring their voices to UNESCO-related events. Because several long-time members had completed their mandates, we put out a call for new members in 2016/17. A total of 41 enthusiastic youth leaders from across Canada were invited to join the YAG last year, all of whom were selected for their expertise in UNESCO priority areas and their active connection with their own communities. Going forward, the YAG will be working from a new Youth Engagement Strategy (2016-2121) founded on youth mobilization, consultation and participation.



Focusing Priorities on Canadians’ Most Pressing Concerns

CCUNESCO launched a new initiative called IdeaLab in 2016/17. IdeaLab is developing a series of discussion papers on current topics of interest to Canadians, such as the role of arts and learning in sustainable development, the impact of fake news, the importance of freedom of expression, the rise of right-wing extremist radicalization in Canada, the role of arts and culture in the settlement of refugees and newcomers, and the value of Indigenous-led UNESCO Biosphere Reserves.

These discussion papers, written by experts among our own membership and networks, are intended to provoke thought and discussion among our networks, civil society and our Sectoral Commissions (see our Governance page for details). Our Sectoral Commissions will have the dual task of both reflecting on these papers in their meetings, and suggesting further topics for exploration. The IdeaLab papers are an ideal way of harnessing our Sectoral Commissions’ impressive intellectual capital on a growing range of issues important to Canadians. The papers are available to read on our website.