Written by I.C. Mosseler in collaboration with Sylvie Quenneville
In West Nipissing our Not-for-Profit organizations (NFPs) are business leaders. How? In two areas; in strategy and effectiveness of their boards, they practice what most businesses only preach (openness, consultation, democracy, clarity), and in motivation and productivity the people who work for NFPs are pioneers – they work very hard to serve; it’s their raison d’être. Some West Nipissing NFPs are well-funded, some are insecure, and some receive no funding at all, relying totally on their own fund raising and volunteers. From volunteer firefighters to AA to arts groups to literacy to sports groups to chambers of commerce to environmental groups to senior and youth groups, the best NFPs devote a great deal of time to defining their mission; the mission is always to be of service — and the community is the customer. In many ways – they bring life and light to the community.
A well run NFP will look for talent and encourage it, will listen and change according to needs, will venture into new areas and constantly adapt and redefine, will be welcoming and accepting to anyone willing to roll up their sleeves, and will foster innovative ideas. They are committed and active organizations, effective and functional, whether their staffing is paid or volunteer. When you ask someone who works for an NFP you will often hear them say “I love my job”. When you ask them why —“Because I know what I’m here for.” NFPs continually forge bonds with our community in West Nipissing, and in the process they contribute to active citizenship, to social responsibility, to values, to accountability and to increased knowledge. The West Nipissing Chamber of Commerce is a not-for-profit itself, with a staff and board that stretches the limits of every dollar and makes every effort count. We know. We salute all of our fellow NFPS in West Nipissing, and in our call for Best Not-For-Profit nominations we had to choose three finalists. They are: Expressions! West Nipissing Art Gallery, Economic Partners Sudbury East West Nipissing, and CANO – Le Conseil des Arts de Nipissing Ouest.
Expressions! West Nipissing Art Gallery
The gallery has been in existence for 15 years and is run by local artists. This year there are 30 artists. The organization has two objectives: 1) to promote the graphic arts in West Nipissing, and 2) to provide opportunities to local graphic artists to show and improve their work in a supportive environment that includes workshops and other exchange opportunities. There are two major showings a year, using space provided at the tourism information centre. The organization is bilingual, the board is selected democratically, and members pay an annual fee to participate. They receive no public funds. The group of artists takes on community projects— this year they painted flowerpots in downtown Sturgeon Falls, and they are working on a two-wall mural inside the recreation centre. They work in cooperation with other organizations: schools, the municipality, other art groups, special events, creating partnerships in order to undertake these community activities. President Hélène Chayer said, “When we have an artistic community, we have a vibrant community.” Artists, being a creative bunch, not only experience the joy of their own activities, they do their best to involve the community in the arts, in a completely supportive environment. It’s fun, it’s beautiful, and it’s growing. This group has a website and a Facebook page, and interacts with similar groups throughout northern Ontario. Every artist is encouraged to explore, to be brave enough to exhibit, and to learn from each other.
Economic Partners Sudbury East West Nipissing
Generally just called “Economic Partners” this organization has been operational for 25 years and formally established in 1999. Economic Partners is part of the Community Future’s Program Development Corporation and is funded by Industry Canada via FedNor. The staffing has consistently been between 4 and 7 employees, really active employees, who serve West Nipissing, French River, Markstay, Warren, St. Charles, Dokis First Nation and Nipissing First Nation. They have invested more than $18 million in small business, their primary program being investment funding; providing capital loans to small business up to $150,000. The people at Economic Partners provide business counselling and regional economic development, with the objective of driving private sector growth. Their incentive is to bring economic development to our community. Economic Partners has worked over the years with numerous other NFPs, including the hospital, the Chamber of Commerce, Job Fairs, and schools, and they assist private sector businesses with administrative expertise when possible. They are also the Go-To people when you’re looking for funding opportunities for your business. Neil Fox has been the General Manager since the fall of 2008, and has been involved with the West Nipissing Business Excellence Awards since its inception. The organization, under his leadership, participates in the Northern Ontario Youth Initiative, seeking to guide youth towards entrepreneurial options.
CANO – Le Conseil des Arts de Nipissing Ouest
Some West Nipissing performance arts aficionados started with a dream 9 years ago, and formalized their existence as Le CANO 5 years ago. The dream was to provide quality French-language performance art for the entire community of West Nipissing and beyond. It has had a remarkable impact on community life. The talent they have brought into the community has been outstanding, and you do not have to be a francophone to appreciate the calibre. They have 8 to 10 concerts a year, and the acts include both professional and amateur music and comedy. CANO has 13 volunteer members on their Board of Directors, with Marcel Bougie as the Artistic Director, and 4 employees. In June of 2015 CANO held a family event day at Goulard Park, hosting 2000 people of all ages but particularly geared towards the young, with face painting, inflatable toys, and more. They held their first Joie de vivre festival, stressing the bilingual aspect of the community, with 2 local artists and 4 professional artists performing over 2 days. Cabaret, a massively popular event, featuring local performance art, is branching out into Cabaret jeunesse —a concert presented by and for all five French-language elementary schools in West Nipissing. Le CANO is part of the Northern Ontario Improv League, where individuals from all over northern Ontario meet once a month in Sturgeon Falls to compete. “It’s fun, exciting, and humorous!” Le CANO is the only francophone organization representing the performance arts in this area, and they believe this is critically important. They have an open arms and welcoming approach to all anglophones and francophiles, but the base of their support remains the francophone community. It’s a forward thinking, progressive group that uses modern technology, social networking, and they take risks all the time. They not only stand up for francophone cultural identity through the arts, they sing, dance, crack jokes and put the joie in Joie de vivre.
Many of us have worked for a not-for-profit at one time or another. They are a major employer as well as the community furnace of ideas, events, social activity, charity, and the organizations where good cheer and hope are forged into useful tools. Doing good works motivates most of us, and good work benefits all of us. The West Nipissing Chamber of Commerce is delighted to have had so many nominations recognizing our NFPs. It’s very encouraging, and so extremely important. These three finalists are only a small representation of a huge body of incredible dedication and effort by our community members, the flowering of a civilized society. Our applause to all of you.
The winner of this award will be selected by an independent jury and announced on November 7 at the West Nipissing Business Excellence Awards. This wonderful bi-annual gala will feature a meal prepared by Nick Tsiogas of Blue Mandolin (local) and music by Mario Arcand’s band (local), in a resplendent atmosphere prepared by Wishingstar (local)… for more information call your West Nipissing Chamber of Commerce at (705) 753-5672.
The corporate sponsors of the West Nipissing Business Awards are: