Engage Nova Scotia has been the subject of media attention in the past few days, calling into question the value taxpayers receive for the provincial government's investment in Engage Nova Scotia and whether our Chief Engagement Officer, Danny Graham, is receiving a political favour through our funding from the Provincial Government.
I responded to the Chronicle Herald today with the following op-ed piece. I encourage you to read this and share it. We welcome your feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org and encourage you to continue to do what you can to build a better Nova Scotia.
Recently Nova Scotians were told that Engage Nova Scotia was created as a political favour for Danny Graham.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
As board chair, I am proud of the work done by Engage Nova Scotia and the promising impact it is having on the future of our province. And I have absolute confidence in the team we have assembled to carry it out.
For the record, Engage Nova Scotia is an independent, not-for-profit organization backed by donations and in-kind support from the private sector, individuals, universities, other not-for-profits, municipalities and the provincial government.
At a time when all segments of society – not just government – are being called upon to step up and tackle our significant challenges and opportunities, we are pleased to have support from such a wide variety of sectors.
Engage Nova Scotia is governed by an unaffiliated, volunteer board of directors comprised of respected leaders reflecting a range of interests and experience. They have come together out of a love for this province, and a belief that, collectively, we have both much to celebrate and much to improve upon.
To lead this work, we are fortunate to have secured the skills and commitment of Danny Graham as the organization’s CEO. Danny is known for his successful and passionate pursuit of the common good for Nova Scotians, and for inspiring confidence in people of all political stripes.
Our board of directors is solely responsible for the compensation Mr. Graham receives, and he undergoes the scrutiny all responsible boards require of team leaders – evaluations, performance reviews and operational oversight.
In 2012, I attended the founding meeting of Engage Nova Scotia, when 75 diverse Nova Scotians came together to ask how we could all do more to live up to our potential – even before talk of an Ivany Commission.
We all believed we owed more to the next generations of Nova Scotians and could best accomplish that by learning how to work together more effectively.
Since the 1930s, expert reports have been written about the economic and demographic challenges facing our province, only to see not much change as a result.
Given that history, it was gratifying when the Ivany Report – in addition to describing our economic and population challenges – pointed to ways our entrenched attitudes and culture might be holding Nova Scotians back.
Engage Nova Scotia had already stepped up to take on this work as a non-partisan, independent organization, recognizing it as a critical foundation for any progress we seek to make as a society. In a short period of time, we have worked with thousands of Nova Scotians on this complex, long-term challenge. For example:
- Through our training initiatives, we have helped equip hundreds of Nova Scotians with the skills and learning to be more collaborative, inclusive and effective in their communities.
- We brought together 1,600 Nova Scotians in a conversation across 12 communities about what holds us back and what makes us exceptional. A variety of economic, social and community-driven activities were seeded as a result, and continue to bear fruit today.
- Through our work with municipalities and other not-for-profits, we have helped hundreds of Nova Scotians become more active and effective in citizen-led projects: working with local governments to develop new strategies for business growth, retaining youth and creating more welcoming communities.
- For three years, we have led Canada in increasing participation in Share Thanksgiving – an initiative that invites people to open their doors to newcomers and international students during Thanksgiving season.
All of this work continues to expand. Soon we will be introducing Canada’s first ever province-wide index and survey of wellbeing. These tools will allow Nova Scotians to track success in improving our quality of life so that resources get better focussed on what matters most to us.
This is but a short snapshot of our work. For more details, you can check out our website at www.engagenovascotia.ca.
As a board, a staff and a network of thousands of committed Nova Scotians, Engage Nova Scotia remains focused on building a more vibrant and resilient province – one where more of us feel ready, willing and able to create the future we all want.
Ramona Lumpkin, CM
Board Chair, Engage Nova Scotia