Nora Spinks and Victor Duret

The past 18 months have been a significant and transformative period for the Vanier Institute of the Family. We celebrated our 50th Anniversary in 2015 – a milestone that provided us with an opportunity to pause and reflect, to respect and celebrate the past, to understand and appreciate the present, and to anticipate and prepare for the future. We have taken full advantage of this opportunity, recognizing how far we’ve come over the past half-century while charting our future. Throughout 2016, we have started this new journey rooted in a tradition of learning about and understanding Canada’s diverse families.

With that in mind, we’re proud to now release our new annual report, where you can learn about what we’ve been doing to explore and celebrate Canada’s diverse families.

Building on our history of understanding families

Governor General Georges P. Vanier and Madame Pauline Vanier founded the Vanier Institute in 1965 to act as a “Royal Commission that should never be discharged.” Their Excellencies believed families deserved focused attention into the future due to their importance to society.

Last year, we built upon this tradition of focused attention on families. We continued to reach out directly to families in Canada through the national Families in Canada Listening Tour, where we learned about diverse families and family life from coast to coast to coast. The conversations at these events informed and shaped our projects, publications and special events.

We continued to publish articles, reviews and fact sheets in Transition, covering diverse topics such as family law, children with disabilities, family health and well-being, caregiving, modern motherhood, financial literacy, and respect, reconciliation and resilience. In January 2016, Transition evolved into an online publication providing easy-to-share articles and resources on a more frequent basis.

Bringing together those who study, serve and support families

We honoured the past, explored the present and envisioned the future by hosting the Families in Canada Conference 2015 – an informative and inspirational event that brought together a diverse group of leaders and researchers who study, serve and support Canada’s families.

Through catalytic conversations, keynote presentations, videos and music, we explored families and family experiences across the country. This historic event built on our conversations about family over the past 50 years, and was a springboard for current and future growth for the Vanier Institute.

We built and strengthened relationships through our many partnerships and collaborations, working with others to enhance the national understanding of families, family experiences, expectations and aspirations in Canada.

One of the highlights was the creation of the Canadian Military and Veteran Families Leadership Circle, a partnership between the Vanier Institute of the Family and the Canadian Armed Forces to build awareness, capacity, competency and community to ensure military and Veteran families have equitable access to services and programs in their neighbourhoods. In January 2015, we co-hosted its inaugural meeting, where we developed a strategy for collaboration and communication across organizations studying, serving and supporting military and Veteran families across Canada.

The second meeting in January 2016 was a resounding success, with the Leadership Circle and its related initiatives growing to reach more Canadians. We have continued to work together with organizations such as Military Family Services and the Office of the Veterans Ombudsman to enhance the understanding of Canada’s military and Veteran families.

We continued to mobilize knowledge, sharing news and resources about initiatives such as the On the Move Partnership, which is exploring and highlighting the ways in which employment-related geographic mobility (ERGM) affects households and communities, and influences and impacts Canadian prosperity.

We engaged in a number of new partnerships such as the eQuality Project, which is exploring the impact that digital media and commercial data practices have on young people, and Health, Wealth and Happiness: Dynamics of Families and a Good Old Age?, which is increasing understanding of how evolving family demographics affect the financial, social and health outcomes of Canadians in later life.

We will move forward with these initiatives, and many others on the horizon, to explore families in Canada and the social, economic, cultural and environmental contexts in which they live.

Bridging our reputation with our future growth

Looking ahead, we will continue to expand the depth and breadth of our reach as we continue to ensure our relevance and enhance our rigour. We will continue to explore leading and promising practices while listening to and telling the stories behind the statistics. We will continue to examine the evolving structures and forms of family as this diversity builds and as our data on it expands. Finally, we will continue to focus on knowledge translation, interpretation and mobilization, building on our reputation as a national resource for those interested in or involved with Canada’s families.

This is an exciting time for us – a time to rejuvenate and refresh. We are proud of the work we have done and the legacy that the Vaniers left for us. Our 50th anniversary was a milestone, a tribute to our history and a source of inspiration for the future. Now, we are continuing on our journey. We invite everyone with an interest in families and family life to join us as we engage in conversation to understand families in Canada.

Download The Vanier Institute of the Family: Fifty Years of Understanding Families in Canada annual report for 2015–2016


Victor Duret is Board Chair at the Vanier Institute of the Family

Nora Spinks is CEO of the Vanier Institute of the Family.

Published on November 2, 2016

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