Government of Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Organizational vitality within the network of associations in the Acadian and Francophone community of Prince Edward Island

Restructuring community governance

Isabelle Dasylva-Gill
Acadian and Francophone Affairs Secretariat
Government of Prince Edward Island

2015-02-02

How can the community continue to effectively implement the 2011-2016 Global Development Plan (GDP) of the Acadian and Francophone community (AFC) of Prince Edward Island (PEI)?

The 2011-2016 GDP of PEI’s AFC was adopted by the community in November 2010. The GDP offers the network of associations a shared vision designed to guide the actions of community and government partners and give cohesion to their efforts. Its implementation later became the responsibility of the Réseau des développeurs (developers’ network), a group made up of the presidents of all the organizations in the network of associations, with the input of the executive directors. Between 1971 and 2011, the number of Francophone community organizations increased, going from 3 to 24, despite the decrease in the population whose mother tongue was French. This led to more volunteer burnout, a silo mentality, and a weakening of the collective interest. Because of this overly regional development approach, it became very challenging to continue the successful implementation of the GDP, which was developed to ensure that the French language and the Acadian culture would survive and flourish on the Island.

The Réseau des développeurs set out to address this issue and undertook a process for reviewing the existing community governance structure. In December 2012, the Réseau des développeurs gave the Société Saint-Thomas-d’Aquin (SSTA)—an organization representing PEI Acadians and Francophones—the mandate to set up an independent commission to conduct an in-depth, comprehensive analysis of this structure. The initiative was designed to be cooperative, participative, and based on a more results-oriented approach that would give priority to the collective interest.

The goal is to implement a governance model and instill a more collaborative organizational culture that will be more effective in ensuring the vitality of regional and provincial entities and the sustainable development of the community as a whole. The common expression “Unity is strength!” is even more relevant in the current context, and that is exactly what inspired the community to reassume responsibility for its decision-making and administrative structure. This exercise in collective thinking was aligned with a global vision of sound, effective, and efficient community governance, which also enabled PEI’s AFC organizations to reaffirm their commitment.

The analysis done by the Commission sur la gouvernance communautaire  (commission on community governance) culminated, in January 2014, in a report containing 10 recommendations, one of which supported the establishment of an implementation committee to monitor the work being carried out. An implementation committee with sectoral and regional representation was subsequently set up with the support of the SSTA’s executive director. The Réseau des développeurs then validated some pilot projects that targeted first and foremost the pooling of four administrative services in an effort to emphasize partnerships and optimize resources. These administrative services meet needs in the following areas: finance/accounting, communications, human resources, and research/analysis/planning.

The commission’s report proposed three community governance models, which were presented to the Réseau des développeurs. The Réseau then recommended the model to be adopted. It was decided to combine efforts and focus on the other recommendations first. We are in the first months of implementing the recommendations, and the process is expected to be spread over two years, before the renewal of the five-year GDP scheduled for 2016. This is long-term work that was undertaken to make the operations of the network of associations more efficient and to enable the network to enjoy organizational vitality over the long term.

One of the fundamental values of the AFC is cooperation, and in the case of the Island community, it has become necessary to strengthen that cooperation. However, the approach being taken to address this issue is one that is gradual, realistic, and tangible, the goal being to implement organizational change at a pace that suits the Island community. Improving the functional ability of the network of associations is therefore an essential step in continuing the implementation of the 2011-2016 GDP, which is results-oriented. This collective journey is combined with an initiative designed to reduce duplication and unite the efforts of AFC organizations. Restructuring and consolidating these organizations will help to put in place support mechanisms for employees and volunteers, who will spend more time in the field moving their projects forward.

Sources:

  • Report of the Commission sur la gouvernance communautaire 2014
  • 2011-2016 Global Development Plan (GDP)
  • SSTA