Welcome to our 2023 Year in Review

A pink and red illustration of an Indigenous woman dancing in a ribbon skirt, with long black hair.

Illustration by Bada Jean

A skyline view of Montreal.

Welcome from the Board Chair and the President & CEO

In 2023 the crises of our time seemed to multiply. Climate change-fueled disasters like wildfires smothered North America in smoke, the cost of housing reached historic highs, and conflicts abroad created rising tensions and fear of violence in communities closer to home.

All of this can be seen as a polycrisis, for none of these pressures happen in isolation. Their implications disproportionately affect certain groups, compounding the effects of division and polarization. Today, we face the critical challenge of addressing these issues while also fostering openness and dialogue to counter division and support reconciliation.

Fortunately, there is much hope to be found, especially in the efforts of community-based and community-serving organizations. Through our work, we witness how the contributions that people make daily, in ways large and small, are bringing healing, peace and wellbeing to the generations who will come after us.

In March 2023, the McConnell Foundation celebrated 20 years of collaborating with Indigenous partners to fund Reconciliation as a focus area. To mark this milestone, McConnell is moving forward with a $30 million capital transfer to community-focused, Indigenous-led foundations over five years. This is over and above our annual disbursement quota and began with a transfer of $10 million to the Indigenous Peoples Resilience Fund. These capital transfers are an opportunity to continue shifting resources and power to the people best placed to support Indigenous communities from coast to coast to coast.

This Year in Review shares the stories of a few partners who inspire us each day. This includes nonprofits and charities such as the Indigenous-led organization Keepers of the Waters, Montreal-based women’s centre Afrique au Féminin, and affordable housing provider Raising the Roof.

To better serve our partners and potential partners, we dedicated the last year to improving our ways of working and updated existing resources. We launched a new website to meet a higher standard of accessibility, revised the Granting and Partnerships Guide that offers transparency into our funding process, and increased our office hours with Foundation staff. These office hours — 418, to be exact — presented a valuable opportunity to speak with potential partners about our funding priorities and how they could successfully apply.

In 2023 we also issued a partner perception survey to guide efforts to improve our practices and processes. In the spirit of transparency, results from this survey were published on our website.

Since making the commitment to divest from fossil fuels in 2022, 99% of our portfolio is now free from oil, gas and coal assets. We remain on track  to achieve our net-zero carbon targets as well as the objectives outlined in our investment strategy.

We hope this edition of the Year in Review offers insight into the impact our partners are making in their communities, an overview of our finances and funding, and a progress update on the commitments to which we hold ourselves accountable.

Thank you for joining us in this journey.

Graham Angus
Board Chair

Lili-Anna Pereša
President and CEO

A black and white portrait of John Wilson McConnell.

About the McConnell Foundation

Founded in 1937, the McConnell Foundation is a private Canadian foundation that contributes to diverse and innovative approaches to address community resilience, reconciliation and climate change. We do so through funding and investment partnerships, strengthening capabilities, convening, and collaborating with the public, private and non-profit sectors.

Our vision

We envision a future in which our economy and social systems promote the thriving of all people, and in which the natural environment is stewarded for generations to come. We see all sectors working together to address climate change, to help foster reconciliation, and to unleash individual creativity and organizational resources to solve social challenges and strengthen communities.

Our mission

We strive for a resilient, inclusive and sustainable society that can successfully address its complex challenges.

A pink and red illustration of an Indigenous woman dancing in a ribbon skirt, with long black hair.

A note on the art used in this report

To mark our 20 year anniversary supporting reconciliation and Indigenous-led initiatives, we commissioned six original artworks by Indigenous artist Bada Jean to illustrate the main sections of this report. The pieces are accompanied by Bada’s descriptions of the cultural meaning behind the imagery she has created.

For the illustration on this page, Bada Jean explains: “In this artwork, it says “Nanâskomo Tahto Kîsikâw" in Nêhiyaw syllabics, or in English, “Everyday is a Gift”. I wanted to represent one of the special things in our culture: dancing. In this piece, we see a men’s traditional dancer. In our culture, dancing and singing is one of the things that connect us as a community and is a way we celebrate our culture.”

Bada Jean is an Indigenous and Welsh visual artist from Treaty 6 and 7 territory. Her roots come from Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation, and Tsuut'ina Nation. She grew up in Alberta and Saskatchewan, and now lives and works on W̱SÁNEĆ & lək̓ʷəŋən territory.

Bada Jean is mostly an acrylic painter and mural artist, but recently has been focusing on digital illustrations. She wants to share the beauty of her culture with others, and represents that within her art. Reconnecting with her culture is an important aspect of her art.

The digital and graphic design of this report was produced by non-Indigenous designers, Loop: Design For Social Good, who worked in collaboration with Bada Jean to highlight her artwork alongside the report’s other graphic features.

View more of Bada Jean’s work:

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