In the Know Project: Identifying multiple facets of Quebec’s community sector

In the Know aims to provide a portrait of what life is like for Quebec’s many English-speaking, bilingual and ethno-cultural groups. Through the project’s different steps, we hope to identify the different characteristics and patterns among these groups.

  • What do your networks look like?
  • Are you being excluded from some important decision-making places where you feel you should be?
  • If so, what might explain that exclusion or marginalization?

The purpose of our exploration is to provide a basis to encourage recognition and inclusion of Quebec community groups by networks and governmental funding bodies. Basically, we want to understand how you could increase your visibility and influence and participation in the community sector and civil society. Check out this interactive map for a quick visual of some of our findings to date. [layout show=”2″]

Some findings from IN THE KNOW to date:

Fall 2011717 English-speaking, bilingual and ethno-cultural community groups were located in Montreal, Laval, the Eastern Townships, Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Outaouais Laurentides, Lanaudière, Montérégie and Capitale Nationale. 254 groups have completed the questionnaire. Analysis done to date highlights four key findings. (See below.) Year Three data is presently being collected. A final summary report will be published in 2012. For more data on the research, please refer to Blumel, S. & Ravensbergen, F. (2011).In the Know: Preliminary results of a study on the relationship between community groups serving the English-speaking, bilingual and ethno-cultural communities of Quebec and the Government of Quebec. Journal of Eastern Townships Studies, No.36, pp. 119-136.


1. Groups tend to be small and hardy

Overall, groups participating in the questionnaire are small and hardy. They meet diverse social needs in many languages. For example: 66% of the groups surveyed have 5 or less full time staff and 69% have existed for 11 or more years.

2. Communications between groups and the Government of Quebec is a challenge

Generally, groups don’t seem to broadly reach out and promote their existence. Neither do they seem to “talk the same language” as the government; not primarily in terms of fluency in French but in the understanding and use of words and concepts. Promoting their existence: 27% of the groups who completed the questionnaire in Year One had no web presence. These findings was responded to immediately. A web presence was provided to these groups via the COCo website. View “In the Know” in Quebec in a larger map Speaking a different language:Many of the groups surveyed have the capacity to speak, read and write in French. However, having more ability to work in French appears to be an advantage when it comes to funding. In Year One, of the 81 groups that receive global mission funding, 80 groups answered the question about language capacity. A total of 82.5% (66) of these 80 groups said they were “very able: many of us can” read and write in French. Of the 98 groups not receiving global mission funding who answered the question on language capacity, 44% of these groups said they were very able to read and write in French (43 groups). This suggests that groups with less capacity to work in French might tend to more left out of funding. There are probably other factors involved but this data potentially underlines the helpfulness of having capacity to work in French in community groups. Many groups seem to speak a different language from the government in terms of the understanding and use of words and concepts. For example: when asked what sectors groups serve, 78% of the groups did not define themselves in ways similar to government definitions and choose to ‘self describe’ their work. (The questionnaire identified sectors of work based on funding streams from the government; i.e.: health & social services, immigrant & cultural communities, education, arts, etc). Groups with global mission funding have more clarity about which government ministry they need to work with. In Year One results, of the groups currently receiving global mission funding (n=81), 73 answered the question on sector and 16 groups used the optional text box to further describe the sector they work in. Of the groups not currently receiving global mission funding, but appearing to meet the criteria for global mission funding 47 (n=62) answered the question about sector and 30 groups used the optional text box to describe their sector. Groups not receiving global mission funding are less clear about how the describe their work in ways that facilitates communication with the funder.

3. Some groups are left out of funding opportunities

42% of the groups responding to the questionnaire receive global mission funding. This was a pleasantly surprising finding from the research. Global mission funding provides core funds for basic maintenance over time, reducing the precarious nature of funding that many organizations live with when they survive with irregular, project-based funding. It is desirable for many groups. A total of 40 of the 67 groups that do not have global mission funding, but appear to meet the criteria, work with ethnocultural communities. There appears to be no funding envelope for these groups.

4. Many groups are engaged in networks

A total of 73% of groups surveyed are active in at least one network and 43% are active in at least three different networks. (The survey asked about participation in a maximum of three networks. Groups may be involved with more). However, few groups that do not receive global mission funding participate in networks in Quebec other than very local ones. (23% of groups that do not receive global mission funding are active in a network in Quebec beyond a local network compared to 60% of groups that do receive global mission funding). Involvement in networks beyond the local yet still in Quebec includes networks such as Conseil Québécois des Gais et lesbiennes (CQGL) and Coalition pour le maintien dans la communauté (COMACO); networks where leadership is provided to the sector. This finding suggests that groups without global mission funding may not be active in networks that will help secure funding opportunities. In summary, there are several important findings from this research to date: This research highlights the contribution of community groups that work with the English speaking community. The current funding structure in Quebec many not respond to the needs of the groups surveyed. Groups participating in this study may reflect a specific characteristic of minority-language groups; needing to cover multiple needs within one organization because of the lack of volume in numbers that would allow for multiple groups, with more specific mandates, to emerge. Government of Quebec funding does not take this reality into account. For additional information and if you would like to collaborate on this work, please contact at COCo.