By: Kayti Baur, MSc Candidate in Community Health and Epidemiology
In this week’s blog post we highlight an outstanding community organization and Dalhousie’s ongoing partnership with the Atlantic Council for International Co-operation.
Janelle Frail has been working at the Atlantic Council for International Co-operation (ACIC)for over 8 years and held many different positions with the organization, from networking and training to communications. Recently Janelle took over a position doing in depth needs assessment work with members as well as working and coordinating with the four provincial coordinators to offer support, set up programs and training with member organizations. These days, an average workday for Janelle involves a lot of meetings and conference calls with members and provincial coordinators, and includes other fun events like networking conferences with members where she can find out what ACIC can do to help and support them individually. Of course, there are bigger events like the ACIC symposium and International Development week which occasionally take over a day or week!
Janelle didn’t fall into this position overnight, however. She originally went to the Nova Scotia Agriculture College (now Dalhousie’s Agricultural Campus) where she focused on environmental studies. After receiving her Bachelor of Science, she went on to work for environment related non-profit groups. Feeling she could do more in the promotion of environmental causes, she went to NSCC (Nova Scotia Community College) for public relations. It was about this time that Janelle engaged in an International internship in Guatemala through Breaking the Silence, involving six weeks of training at the Tatamagouche Centre. This was a major eye opener into the world of environmental justice for Janelle.
“How are we supposed to save the trees if people need the trees to cook food to eat?” she says as an example. This led her to expand her interest into human rights as well as environmental rights, which brought her to ACIC.
Janelle says she loves many parts of working with ACIC including the brainstorming ideas sessions with fellow staff and supporting people to implement their ideas.
“Brainstorming really sparks the brain and allows you to throw out ideas; things get drawn out through conversation.” she says.
Janelle also finds the networking and training events, where she can connect with members, very rewarding. However, she finds maintaining relationships with government-funded groups challenging because under the previous government a lot of non-profit organizations lost funding and took regional offices out of the Atlantic provinces. This reduced membership of the organization, particularly large international groups. While they are slowly coming back it creates a very challenging environment because ACIC’s strength comes from their members. Despite the challenges Janelle loves working with the local community members and seeing the impact they can have.
As the Global Health Office (GHO) is a member of ACIC, Janelle has been working with us directly for about six years, with the GHO having been involved with ACIC in general for about ten. ACIC is a big supporter of the GHO’s Global Health Day. Janelle says she finds it important to participate in such events because it’s a great opportunity to see what members are up to and to connect with organizations like ours.
Finally, when asked about why ACIC is so passionate and their sustainable development goals, Janelle said the whole organization saw them as exciting and important factors that so many non-profits in both local and international spheres are working toward whether they know it or not. She went on to say that it is exciting to see how these goals bring together organizations to make connections. Currently they are expanding into more women and youth-focused work than they had previously, which she says is a great opportunity with their changing membership. They are still gathering more of what is being done on the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and how to inspire other non-profits, countries or communities to do similar things. The SDGs will remain a large part of their focus in the future.
The Atlantic Council for International Co-operation is an important organization for global health and sustainability located here in Halifax. ACIC is an umbrella organization with members ranging from community development groups to international education departments from across the Atlantic provinces (including the Global Health Office!). They work in community development locally and globally to provide networking, training, capacity building workshops, fostering communication, and more. ACIC also works with government to express community needs and provides youth programming to increase global citizenship.