Initiatives and Programs that Support the Use of Culture to Address Socio-Economic Challenges and to Promote Full Participation in Society

Department of Canadian Heritage, Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development
Objectifs clefs de la mesure:

The Government of Canada has been involved in a number of initiatives that help foster the social and economic benefits of cultural expressions.  

This includes initiatives at the international level, primarily through the exchange of best practices and support for the growth of networks.  A significant amount of this work relates to Canada’s promotion of the objectives of the Convention in other international forums – including article 14 (Cooperation for International Development).

At the domestic level, this involves support for community-driven initiatives designed to strengthen communities through arts and culture.

Principale caractéristique de la mesure:

Between 2005 and 2009, the Government of Canada has encouraged dialogue on these aspects of cultural policy at the international level while serving as Chair of the Interamerican Committee on Culture of the Organization and American States.  

During this period, the Government of Canada guided the implementation of the Committee’s 2007-2009 Plan of Action which provided a strategic framework for enhanced cultural cooperation in the Americas. The Plan of Action was anchored around the promotion of prosperity and economic growth in the Americas through cultural industries, and the reduction of gang-related violence by engaging vulnerable youth through arts and culture.

In support of the implementation of this action, the Government of Canada hosted the Ignite the Americas Youth Arts Policy Forum in Toronto from September 15 to 21, 2008. This event was organized and planned in full partnership with the Organization of American States and with youth arts sector leaders from Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Jamaica and the United States of America. Two young people from each of the OAS’s 34 Member States, with experience in using arts and culture to engage vulnerable youth in their communities, were invited to attend. In total, fifty-four young people from thirty-one OAS Member States were selected to participate.

The Ignite the America participants, along with cultural industries leaders and representatives from OAS member states shared their experience in using arts and cultural expressions as a tool for social inclusion and economic growth for youth who are marginalized and socially disengaged. They developed a toolkit of practical information aimed at strengthening the capacity of young people to create successful and sustainable cultural enterprises.   

The conclusions of the summit were presented by youth representatives at the Fourth Inter-American Meeting of Ministers of Culture and Highest Appropriate Authorities took place on November 20 and 21, 2008 in Bridgetown, Barbados. They can be viewed online at:

During this period the Government of Canada also participated in bilateral exchanges on how culture can be used as a tool to reduce crime and violence and promote health and sustainable communities. For example, in February 2007, the Government of Canada participated in a workshop organized by the Ministry of Culture of El Salvador on how arts and culture can be used to reduce and prevent violence, particularly by youth gangs. A Government of Canada representative shared Canadian perspectives on these issues with representative from across Central America, as well as from Brazil and Columbia.

At the domestic level, federal cultural programs directly promote positive social and economic development.  

For example, the Government of Canada invests in organizations that ensure that Aboriginal young people aged 10 to 24 have access to culturally focused activities in urban setting. Building cultural knowledge and awareness is a key element. As such, these investments help promote the development of vibrant Aboriginal communities in Canada.

The Cultural Connections for Aboriginal Youth (CCAY) program of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development supports culturally-focused, community-based, youth-led activities that connect Aboriginal youth with their culture, build self-esteem and self-confidence, strengthen their cultural identity, and encourage them to make positive life choices and participate in Canadian society.  CCAY is funding nearly 250 projects in 150 urban communities across Canada, reaching 63,000 Aboriginal youth.

Further information about the Cultural Connections for Aboriginal Youth program can be found at: