Montréal’s Top Social Innovations

Ah Montréal.

Thank you for your joy, vibrancy and sensual delight. Thank you for introducing pleasure to Canada’s diet. You have been very patient with the rest of us.
Thank you for blending the inclusiveness of Canada’s first people with the humanism of Henry IV’s France.
You are more Samuel de Champlain than Jacques Cartier aren’t you?
And thank you for your ingenuity.
Here in alphabetical order is a bakers dozen worth of social innovations in Montréal.

  1. Bixi – bicycle sharing system. Good example of public sector innovation by the City of Montreal.
  2. Centres de pédiatrie sociale Dr. Gilles Julien has redesigned pediatrics to address the environmental, socioeconomic and family conditions that contribute to childhood illness.
  3. Chantier De L’ Économie Sociale – mobilizing the economic power of the social sector. A shining and alas only example in North America.
  4. Cirque du Soleil – redefining the circus while blending the arts and business towards a better world
  5. Communauto – First car sharing program in North America.
  6. Exeko – creative use of culture to address the exclusion of people in prisons, with special needs, who are aboriginal, homeless..  Breathtaking in concept and practice.
  7. Girls Action Foundation – inspiring girls and young women to take action to change the world.
  8. Institut du Nouveau Monde – revitalizing democracy in Québec nestled in a grass roots informed citizenry.
  9. JW McConnell Family Foundation – reinventing the role of foundations in advancing justice. A growing global reputation.
  10. Quo Vadis – using real estate as a tool of economic development and urban regeneration. (I’m partial to social workers like Natalie Voland who reinvent themselves.)
  11. Right to Initiate Public consultation – Citizens of Montreal now have the right to initiate public consultations on innovative solutions that have community support. Usually it’s the other way around.
  12. Saint Marguerite d’Youville – Canada’s first social entrepreneur. Financed social and health supports from variety of social enterprises with no support from the administration.
  13. Universal Declaration of Human Rights – Montreal lawyer, John Peter’s Humphrey was the principal author.

I’ve likely missed some of your favourites. Send them along and we’ll complete the list.

NOTE – I’m speaking in Montréal June 4th at Rendez-vous de l’innovation sociale. Perhaps I’ll see you there. Also doing a twitter conversation at noon (EDT) the same day.


You go forth, drunk on the multitudes, drunk on everything, while the lampposts sprinkle nodding streets with stars.

     from Eden by Robert Melançon

Purify the colours, purify my mind

Purify the colours, purify my mind
And spread the ashes of the colours over this heart of mine!

Arcade Fire, Neighbourhood #1 (Tunnels) Listen here

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One Comment

  1. Tiberius Brastaviceanu

    I would add SENSORICA to this.

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