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Session Overview - All times EDT

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4.2.2: The Impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic on Canadian SMO Adaptation and Resilience
Thursday, 03/June/2021:
12:30pm - 2:00pm

Technical chair: Adrian Murray
Location: Room 2

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4.2.2: The Impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic on Canadian SMO Adaptation and Resilience

Chair(s): Carmen Ho (Assistant Professor at the Guelph Institute for Development Studies), Andréanne Martel (Inter-Council Network For International Cooperation (ICN) and Alberta Council for Global Cooperation (ACGC), Canada)

This panel aims to understand how Canadian small and medium organizations (SMOs) in particular have experienced the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition to understanding the challenges SMOs face in relation to financial loss and their ability to implement their programs, we will showcase their strategies and practices in response to the pandemic. While SMOs may experience unique vulnerabilities, they also have unique adaptation strategies and forms of resilience.

The pandemic offered an opportunity to transform practices between Canadian SMOs and their partners overseas. It may have accelerated the localization process by transforming the way Canadian organizations collaborate and their relationships.

This panel brings together researchers and practitioners involved in a collaborative study undertaken during the first few months of the pandemic. Findings from this SMO study will be published in a report in March 2021, and this panel will be an opportunity to discuss the findings with those who commissioned, conducted and participated in it. A researcher who has previously studied Canadian SMOs will also be invited to comment on the findings form an external standpoint.


Presentations of the Symposium


The Impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic on Canadian SMO Adaptation and Resilience

Andrea Paras
University of Guelph

Andrea Paras was the Primary Investigator on a University of Guelph study that surveyed 151 Canadian NGOs to investigate the early impacts of the pandemic on Canada’s international development sector. She led the research for the study that is the focus of this roundtable discussion.


Pivoting to Adapt to a Rapid Changing Context: Canadian SMOs' Resilience and Learning

Andréanne Martel

A. Martel is leading Spur Change which is a capacity building and knowledge sharing program to support Canadian Small and medium organizations (SMOs) working in global cooperation. In early March 2020, Spur Change published a report on Canadian SMOs’ capacity needs and knowledge gaps. When COVID19 hit a few days after launching this report, Martel gathered together over 100 Canadian SMOs in early April to discuss how COVID was affecting them. Since then, she and her team collaborate with Canadian SMOs on a daily basis to support them while they pivot to adapt to the pandemic. Her team commissioned the study on The Impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic on Canadian SMO Adaptation and Resilience (SMO study report) which is being discussed during this panel.


How Feminist Principles Guided Pandemic Responses

Rachel Barr

VIDEA is a Canadian SMO located in British Columbia, which applies a human rights and social justice lens in its work with Indigenous youth and communities in Canada and abroad. VIDEA participated in the SMO study, and R. Barr will discuss how VIDEA’s feminist principles have guided its pandemic response.



Brian Tomlinson
AidWatch Canada

B. Tomlinson works since many years on issues related to Canadian and global aid priorities as well as global trends in the development effectiveness of civil society organizations (CSOs). For the past few years, B. Tomlinson has been working on areas of aid and development policies at the global level, Canadian international climate finance with C4D, as well as on shrinking civic space issues with international CSO allies. In 2016, he published one of the very few studies on SMOs crucial role in international development and public engagement across Canada. His report, commissioned by the ICN, influenced the creation of the Spur Change program. As part of this panel, B Tomlinson will provide comments on the findings of the SMO study report.

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