Civil Society

2021 in Review: Three Transformative Moments in Canada


When looking back on the events of any given year, we often attribute change to a few individuals who transform society with profound discoveries, or monumental events that pitch a new course. Because of this, we spend less time considering the incremental changes that occur in moments when regular people act together.

To reflect on 2021, members from Coeuraj Canada and Coeuraj USA each selected moments from the year that illustrate the great potential for transformation they witnessed, and the important lessons these moments left us with.

Old paradigms are shifting. And with new realities come new opportunities.

This year the Cree Nation of Quebec announced it would build a 26-floor high-rise in Old Montréal. Since contact, Indigenous peoples were dispossessed of their lands, which became home to settlers. Now, Indigenous peoples are developing urban areas and generating wealth for their communities. The announcement demonstrates an emerging paradigm shift that will define the future of Canada: Indigenous nations are becoming economic engines for all of Canada and can, and should, benefit from Canada’s economic system. This is a symbol of what reconciliation can look like. Let it offer hope to the world.

- Dan Pujdak, Executive Director, Coeuraj Canada

Challenging injustice can mean keeping “paddles in the water.”

In late May, news broke of the 215 children recovered from the former Kamloops Indian Residential School by Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation. For many across the country currently known as Canada, this was a confronting awakening to the racist policies that systematically affect Indigenous peoples, past and present. For others, it’s a painful reminder of the injustices.

Together with our partners at the Matawa Tribal Council, we had been preparing for a virtual community drop-in that was set to take place just days later. Acknowledging the weight of the moment, we checked in on whether we should cancel the event, Matawa encouraged us to “keep the paddles in the water” and hold the event as an act of resistance and strength.

For 2022, after two long years living with the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s more important than ever to cultivate hope and “keep the paddles in the water” with the meaningful systems change work we all undertake.

- Kelly Kornet Weber, Design Lead, Coeuraj

And even during a crisis, people are able to leverage the knowledge they hold within themselves to support others around them.

In March of 2021, people across Canada were preparing to receive their COVID-19 vaccines. As the vaccine rollout began, there was mass confusion regarding the process. Who was eligible for a shot? When should we book each dose? Where can we book an appointment in the first place? The healthcare system was exhausted from the pandemic and as it continued to buckle under this overwhelming pressure, a community-driven network emerged with a solution.

Vaccine Hunters is a coalition of ordinary individuals that came together to ensure that people from coast-to-coast-to-coast were able to book their vaccine appointments. I was one of the many folks who benefited from using their services. 

Vaccine Hunters reminds us that when people are connected, to one another and through a shared problem, they can leverage the knowledge they hold within themselves to effect large-scale change. In 2022, we need to create opportunities for community-empowered transformation so that we all can continue to work towards addressing planetary problems, together.

Because if 2021 taught us anything, it is that we need one another and the world needs us.

- Ruslan Hetu, Data Humanist, Coeuraj Tech

Coeuraj exists to build a more sustainable, inclusive, and collaborative world. We help people address change by finding the solutions they hold within themselves. Want to know more? Connect with us today.

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