Speaking Up



The Nova Scotia Commission on Our New Economy suggested in its report that, as Nova Scotians, we often hold ourselves back with attitudes of “division, distrust and discouragement.” Is that really true?

Engage partnered with Corporate Research Associates and CBC Radio’s Mainstreet to explore what we really believe. As Nova Scotians, are we willing to change? What do we value most about living here? Are we unified as a province? Do we agree that growing the economy is our most important goal? And who do we trust to lead change we? Drawing on our 2015 Cultural Levers of Change Research Study, we highlighted a different question each of five weeks in a CBC blog and radio show, and on the Engage Facebook.

People across the province were fundamentally upbeat about Nova Scotia’s many strengths and potential. At the same time, they identified real concerns about aspects of our culture and narrative that many feel are slowing or stalling meaningful progress.

Openly naming our challenges, especially in the company of people who think differently from us, was a brave step forward. Listening to understand the other's point of view was an even greater step. At Engage, we were encouraged by the number of people who were stepping up, speaking up and showing up to demonstrate how deeply they care about our province and were ready to act.

In Cape Breton, people spoke about the emergence of a new identity for the region and cited difficulty seeing our assets as one of their biggest barriers to moving forward.


In Digby, division between small communities, a lack of diversity and inclusion, and difficulty working together were among the concerns that were shared. 


In Pictou County, where a tough amalgamation debate had left many feeling divided, a willingness for greater collaboration began to emerge over the course of the evening.


In Halifax, a group of youth and young adults aired their frustrations about the limiting beliefs they think are holding Nova Scotians back.


We believe that open conversations about opportunities and challenges are an important starting place for change. The benefits of deeper and more candid dialogue were evident at each Speaking Up event and you’ll find a visual summary of the initiative below.

For additional inspiration, we recommend viewing the photo album by clicking here, listening to audio clips from CBC Mainstreet, which you can access by clicking here and reading these blog posts written by Danny Graham, which originally appeared on cbc.ca in April and May:



get updates