Regional Association of West Quebecers'

Strategic Plan 2006-2010

Prepared with the assistance of GRUNDY MARKETING INC.



Background

Founded originally under the name of CU-RE (English Community Resource Centre) in 1981 and then renamed Outaouais Alliance in 1983, the Regional Association of West Quebecers (RAWQ) has built its reputation on providing programs and services to the English-speaking community of West Quebec since 1981.

The organization continues to be dedicated to the minority English-speaking community of West Quebec as part of its commitment towards fostering community vitality while embracing the value of respect for the majority community. In recent years, RAWQ's level of activity and output has expanded significantly and places even greater demands on internal resources. These resources remain limited despite the size, diversity and geographical spread of RAWQ's constituency. Of note is the significant socio-economic growth in the City of Gatineau which contrasts sharply with several economically challenged areas in West Quebec. How might RAWQ serve these communities without compromising existing services? RAWQ's support role in community theatre and health care will likely change over the next five years as these initiatives become self-sustaining - thereby suggesting the need for RAWQ to direct energy elsewhere. These factors combined suggest that the timing for reflection is excellent - for both evaluation as well as forward planning. RAWQ is at a critical crossroads where planning based on informed decisions is essential to the present and future vitality of the organization.

To this end, RAWQ made a commitment to engage in a planning activity to evaluate its present position and set a course of direction for the next five years. The first step in this activity was a planning retreat held on March 25-26 2006 with the Board of Directors. The weekend began with a series of presentations by community leaders in the fields of education, health care, employment, communications and culture. These individuals discussed their particular interests and projects as well as their perspective on the role and contribution of RAWQ. The retreat continued with an evaluation of RAWQ's present position, a review of the mission statement and the identification of priority goals that the Strategic Plan might embrace.

The Strategic Plan presented in the following pages is based largely on the retreat discussions, but also takes into account recent needs assessment research recognizing that planning should reflect the community's needs. The Plan is a living document subject to ongoing adjustment in response to environmental dynamics. The elements set out by the Plan will be reviewed on a regular basis in order to evaluate performance and to keep the plan effective and relevant in serving the interests of the English-speaking community of West Quebec.

  • Fundamental statements
  • Mission statement
  • RAWQ serves and supports the English-speaking population of the Outaouais by fostering an environment in which it can thrive.

To this end, it pursues the following objectives: 

  • Identify the need for health, social, educational and cultural programs and encourage their creation and implementation by appropriate agencies;
  • Secure improved access to English services and information and to instruction in French as a second language;
  • Support and promote the cultural and artistic activity of the English-speaking population; 
  • Give youth a strong voice within the Regional Association of West Quebecers and thereby providing the means for youth to exercise influence within the community at large;
  • Nurture relations with the French-speaking majority;
  • Serve as an information and resource center for the entire Outaouais community;
  • Encourage the participation of English-speaking people within all the region's decision-making bodies;
  • Cooperate with other groups in promoting the rights of official language minority communities across the country;
  • Advocate to the political authorities (municipal, provincial and federal) for the interests of the English-speaking community of West Quebec.

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Priority Goals and Supporting Strategy

The Strategic Plan articulates six priority goals to provide direction and a planning framework over the next five years. These goals are overlapping and interconnected and when pursued collectively will enable RAWQ to move closer to its fundamental goal - to serve and support the English-speaking population of West Quebec by fostering an environment which it can thrive. It is recognized that this strategic plan is a ‘living document'. The interpretation of the meaning of the six priority goals will evolve and how they are implemented will reflect changing circumstances.

The six priority goals are:

  1. To build and maintain RAWQ's organization capacity.
  2. To increase RAWQ's visibility.
  3. To maintain RAWQ'a support role for cultural activity.
  4. To maintain RAWQ's support role for health and social services.
  5. To inform, mobilize and advocate on behalf of the community.
  6. To encourage youth to be active participants in The West Quebec community now and in the future.

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Priority Goal 1: To build and maintain RAWQ's organizational capacity

This goal is fundamental to the successful outcome of RAWQ's planning effort. It focuses on building internal resources based on the assumption that a organization with a strong membership, volunteer base and adequate financial resources will be in a better position to respond to community needs.

Supporting Strategies:
  • Under the coordination of the membership committee, develop and pursue a strategy to support a healthy increase in membership. The strategy will consider the following:
    • Review the existing fee structure. Identify any necessary changes.
    • Launch an annual membership recruiting campaign.
    • Prepare a member service directory (well received by the community in the past)
    • Recruit members though the New Residents Program. (Review the new residents package.) Request members for referrals to new residents.
    • Offer life-time memberships.
  • Continue to seek high caliber community representation on RAWQ's Board of Directors. Identify sectors where representation is missing.
  • Adjust the format of the Annual General Meeting to encourage greater participation among the membership.
  • Long-term (beyond the scope of the 5 year plan): Examine the feasibility of creating chapters in different communities.
  • Develop a fundraising strategy.

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Priority Goal 2: To increase RAWQ's visibility

This goal addresses the ongoing challenge regarding low visibility and profile of RAWQ in the larger English-speaking community of West Quebec.

Supporting Strategies:
  • In the immediate term, prepare a communications plan under the direction of a communications committee.
  • Continue to provide support to the West Quebec Post, particularly with the anticipated expansion of the newspaper's distribution in the Hull/Gatineau region.
  • Use board members for self promotion wherever appropriate and possible. Identify opportunities for presentations to community groups.
  • Change the format of RAWQ events and activities where possible to increase community participation (golf tournament, awards banquet, etc.)
  • Seek RAWQ seats on community boards (Heritage College, school boards). Ensure a consistent message once RAWQ is represented (communications plan).
  • Participate in other organization's activities and events (booths).
  • In the longer term, examine the feasibility of a cultural festival (refer to Goal 3).

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Priority Goal 3: To maintain RAWQ's support role for cultural activity

This priority goal aims to build on the success achieved through the support or facilitator role of RAWQ in the community theatre and other past cultural projects. This goal not only builds a sense of cultural identity, but also addresses the issue of youth retention and engagement - recognizing the responsibility of community organizations to give youth knowledge and experience. The goal also presents an opportunity to break down isolation for all ages - offering opportunities for expression and exchange both within and between communities.

Supporting Strategies:
  • In the immediate term, RAWQ will continue to provide support for the development of a regional theatre network. Support provided through the following measures:
    • Coordination of the regional committee
    • Publicity
  • RAWQ will monitor opportunities to expand the theatre network to include other regions.
  • RAWQ will encourage partnering with the schools in order to provide venues.
  • Support regional artist's tours.
  • Examine the feasibility of a cultural festival.
  • Once sufficient synergy is established among the community to support the regional
    theatre network, RAWQ will assess opportunities to provide support in other cultural
    sectors.

For example:

  • RAWQ will support the search for venues for public concerts
  • RAWQ will support musical activity in the schools.
  • RAWQ will provide support to visual artists through publicity and identifying venues.
  • RAWQ will support the public exhibition of works by visual art students.
  • RAWQ will identify opportunities to support written word events such as book launches and readings.

Regarding the cultural arts in general, RAWQ will identify opportunities as they arise to award prizes at public events.

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Priority Goal 4: To maintain RAWQ's support role for health and social services

This goal recognizes the importance of the OHSSN as a means of building a network for the English-speaking community in the area of health and social services and supports the development strategy of ensuring greater access to programs and services. The Outaouais Health and Social Services Network for the English-speaking Population involves citizens, public institutions, service organizations, and community resources in the planning and delivery of quality and accessible Health and Social Services to the English-speaking population.

Supporting Strategies:
  • Maintain RAWQ's project management role until the OHSSN can operate autonomously.
  • In the immediate term, address the program's sustainability and means to continue managing the project beyond the current funding commitment from Health Canada.
  • Encourage qualified English-speakers (not necessarily RAWQ members) to seek membership on the board of the various health and social services agencies and institutions for the purposes of improving services and lobbying. (N.B. there is a strong presence of English-speakers on foundation boards.)
  • Identify and focus on economically depressed regions in greatest need of support.

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Priority Goal 5: To inform, mobilize and advocate on behalf of the community

This goal recognizes the current success RAWQ has achieved on behalf of the community in response to needs regarding cultural expression (community theatre) and health and social services (OHSSN). The intention is to extend these efforts in various sectors of activity as needs and opportunities arise. The end result is greater participation of the English-speaking community in West Quebec society.

Supporting Strategies:
  • Conduct environmental scanning on a regular basis to keep informed of community needs. (Board responsibility)
  • Identify and prioritize (inventory) where the community is not present or not participating.
  • Evaluate the need for an education committee (based on the above analysis).
  • Adopt an advocacy role with the City of Gatineau (increase services).
  • Offer information sessions and/or forums for the community (issue/topic based).

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Priority Goal 6: Encourage youth to be active participants in The West Quebec community now and in the future.

This goal recognizes that the regeneration and future vitality of vulnerable minority communities rests with youth. If young English-speakers are to remain active community members in the future they must be engaged by community leaders today. RAWQ must therefore consider in all of its activities the following realities that young people face:

  • Young people are increasingly leaving the region for economic and other opportunities located elsewhere.
  • Young people do not all share a sense of belonging to the English-speaking community. Their self identity is often divided among the Francophone and other cultural groups (as a result of intermarriage).
  • The level of bilingualism among many young people limits their employment and other economic opportunities in West Quebec. Those young people who are sufficiently bilingual to be successful in the region may perceive otherwise.
Supporting Strategies:
  • Encourage youth to actively participate in community organizations and institutions.
  • Ensure youth have access to information and services (including education) in English to allow them to succeed in the majority French-speaking community.
  • Encourage bi-culturalism so that English-speaking youth can actively and comfortably interact with the majority French-speaking community.

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