Social Enterprise Development on the Magdalen Islands

The Southside Experience – One of several social enterprise initiatives to develop the English-speaking community of the Magdalen Islands

After decades of socio-economic decline, the Council for Anglophone Magdalen Islanders (CAMI) decided to do something about it. As part of a community-wide process to establish a community development plan, entitled “The Future is Now,” CAMI established a social enterprise to take advantage of the socio-economic opportunities that would contribute to the long-term development of the English-speaking community ‘on the Islands.’

The objective of L’entreprise sociale des Îles is to establish a social enterprise organization that will capture the economic potential from tourism, especially in the areas of agri-food and cultural tourism highlighting the heritage of the English-speaking community of the Magdalen Islands. This included a marketing strategy – “Southside Experiences” – to increase the visibility of the community and its tourism products and services, and thereby increasing the economic value that would be contributed to the community.

The initial steps to enhance and expand the tourism activity saw the successful renovation of CAMI’s heritage site in the community of Grosse Ile in 2013, including the veterans museum and “Grandma’s Bakery,” with the latter initiative now as popular amongst locals as with the tourists.

Parallel to this, CAMI undertook the refurbishment and conversion of the former school on Entry Island into a combined tourist and community centre to both accommodate the growing tourism traffic and provide the Entry Island community – the only one of the archipelago islands not connected by road – with a socio-cultural facility for community activities.

Not content with these achievements, CAMI has expanded its social enterprise initiatives by establishing a respite daycare program that is essential for supporting young families to stay in the community, as well as preparing for the purchase of a social housing facility from the the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation to provide for the imminent needs for local & affordable housing.

With a focused emphasis on partnerships, CAMI is ensuring that the socio-economic needs of the English-speaking community of the Magdalen Islands – including employment, training and sustainable development of economic opportunities – will ensure that the future is, indeed, now.

For more information:
Helena Burke
Executive Director, CAMI