By Nancy Mattes, Director, Social Prosperity Wood Buffalo
Do you ever catch yourself thinking that you love your community? Usually this happens to me when I’m travelling outside of Canada, and I’m seeing things that don’t exist in my neck of the woods. It also happens when I’m hearing stories of persecution, injustice or crimes against humanity. These stories are a sobering reminder that not everyone has the same rights and freedoms that we enjoy in Canada.
I live in a great community. I have a good job, my kids are getting a good education and I can walk my dog without ever worrying about my personal safety. The grocery store and the gym are minutes away. I can visit a local gallery to feed my creative interests and I attend world-class concerts at the local think-tank. While some people like to complain about all the issues and problems in our community, I like to remember how lucky I am to live here.
A couple of years ago a local community organization sent out a community wellbeing survey to find out how residents felt about their quality of life. The survey was conducted by the Canadian Index of Wellbeing (CIW), which is a Canadian innovation and award-winning success story. It has eight domains of wellbeing (education, environment, arts and culture, sports and recreation, time use, community engagement, healthy populations and living standards). Unlike the GDP (gross domestic product) this survey measures the things that really matter to Canadians. For example, it measures the overall accessibility of the health care services in our community and how much time people spend commuting. The results from the survey generated a report for our community that identified significant trends and examined the priority areas critical to our region’s quality of life.
Another benefit of the CIW community wellbeing survey is its comprehensive approach to looking at the interconnectedness between domains. Today’s fast-paced and global society means that systems are connected in ways that didn’t exist twenty years ago. By exploring how each domain impacts the other, we can get a better understanding of what is affecting wellbeing. While issues may change over time, the effectiveness of the survey and its ability to measure quality of life remains.
That’s why I am so excited for Social Prosperity Wood Buffalo to be involved in a similar effort in Wood Buffalo (Fort McMurray, AB). A multi-sectoral group of community organizations are working together to conduct the CIW community wellbeing survey this spring. During the month of May, the survey will be mailed to approximately 7,000 households (including households in the outlying communities) in Wood Buffalo. The results will help us understand what areas are critical to Wood Buffalo’s quality of life. Decision-makers will be able to use the information to prioritize resources and strategies. Funders will be able to use it to allocate resources to areas of highest need. Community members will be able to use it to advocate for positive social change.
If your household is selected to complete the survey this spring, please take 30 minutes out of your day to fill it out. Your investment of time will benefit your family and neighbours in a collective effort to improve the quality of life for all residents in Wood Buffalo.