Big Win on Poverty Reduction


Government of British Columbia has kept its promise to MVA leaders to legislate a poverty reduction strategy!
In 2017, John Horgan and Andrew Weaver stood before 800 MVA leaders and committed to legislate a poverty reduction strategy. This week, the legislation passed unanimously!

Congratulations to MVA leaders, BC Poverty Reduction Coalition and the thousands of British Columbians who worked tirelessly for over a decade to make this happen! A huge win for the common good. Now the real work continues in encouraging a bold and comprehensive plan to be announced next year!

MVA Leaders Retreat: Our Evaluation Moment

On September 8th, MVA Leaders gathered for a retreat to evaluate the past work and explore our collective vision for the future. 

We identified our values and reminded ourselves of our relational, learning and action-oriented focus as we work together as civil society organizations for the common good. 

Our key strengths are building relationships across sectors, holding large public actions and campaigning on important issues. We tend to focus on political action, and have a lot of action coming up this fall as we continue to follow up on our provincial accountability assembly and meeting with candidates for the municipal election.  Our next action is meeting with Minister Carole James on the provincial budget on October 11th.


While political action is important, we would like to strengthen our action teams by engaging in deeper listening insider our member organizations, and building understanding and relationships between us.

We reached consensus to plan next year around 3 key areas:

1. Building deeper connections within organizations

MVA Leaders identified internal organizing and relationship building as both a strength and weakness of our current structure. Leaders have a desire for more opportunities to relate with each other within organizations and between organizations.  We proposed 3 ways to work on this into 2019 - host a table talk discussion for your members, build a core team, and attend the faith, labour or community caucus meeting.

Building a Core Team

A core team is a collective of leaders within an organization that have been through the IAF leadership training and are implementing the practices by connecting with your members, identifying leaders and strengthening the culture of your organization.  We will be having quarterly trainings for core team members throughout 2019.

Would you like to join this cohort starting in January? email [email protected] to be put on the mailing list.

Host an MVA Table Talk discussion!

Our housing, transit, social inclusion, economic justice and community healthcare teams research action teams are hard at work but in order to understand the impacts of these issues, we need to hear from your members! Research action teams will be connecting back to member organizations to ensure our community experience is reflected in policy development.  Our affordable housing team is ready to come to your organization now. Host a meeting with one of our research action teams is a great way of engaging your members on their interests!

Labour Caucus:  Nov 8th

After an energizing first meeting, Stephen von Sychowski, President of VDLC and Kari Michaels, Executive Vice-President BCGEU are chairing the next Labour Caucus meeting on November 8th at 6pm at VDLC. We will be sharing best practices for connecting with our members. Please RSVP

Faith Caucus : Early 2019

We will be convening the first MVA Faith Caucus in early 2019. Would you like to attend or be part of the planning team? [email protected]

Community Caucus : Early 2019

  • If you would like to help plan the caucus of community organizations , please email [email protected]

2. Financial Sustainability

Hundreds of volunteers have been involved in MVA this year from our 50+ member organizations but we have only 1 paid staff member.  This is not a sustainable situation, so the next few months are dedicated to organizing funding to hire a second organizer and admin support.  This means upping our budget to invest in our work to act meaningfully for the common good in Vancouver.

We are evaluating the financial future of MVA and how we can work together towards a healthy budget in 2019 and beyond. We have been saying we need a second organizer for over 5 years and this is the year we will put serious steps in place raise the money for it.  A fundraising campaign will launch before the end of the year. 

If you want to build your fundraising skills, we've got lots of workshops planned to share knowledge between our members on how to raise money for organizations and projects. Here's what we have coming up:

How to Raise Money for Anything with fundraising expert Bob Connolly
Friday November 30, 2018 - RSVP

Congregational Finances with expert Bob Connolly
Friday November 30, 2018 - RSVP

3. Expanding diversity of organizations

Mapping our membership and expanding our membership to truly reflect all people who make up our communities is a key priority for 2018.  Although our organizations have diverse memberships, it tends to be the same people who regularly attend MVA events. We collectively voiced that we need to prioritize welcoming new people from different perspectives into our work and decision making and will be making a plan at our coming meetings to think about how to do this in each of our actions in the coming year.


Deepening the work we've started on decolonizing our training curriculum, building relationships with indigenous advisors and welcoming change to the way we've always done things.  We are in a process of evaluating how we teach and practice organizing on Coast Salish Territory alongside our sister organization Greater Victoria Acting Together who is undergoing a similar transformation.  Many of our members are reading the TRC 94 Calls to Action and are implementing the recommendations in their congregations, unions, community groups and neighbourhoods. If you would like to be involved in taking this project further, please email [email protected] to be put in touch with the team lead. 

Thank you to BCGEU for hosting us at this retreat and to all the MVA leaders and organizations that contributed their energy into creating our strategic plan.

Retreat follow-up: November 24, 2018

We will be mapping our our 2019 plans as they relate to these 3 priorities on November 24, 2018 at PSAC. This meeting is available to all members of MVA member organizations.  RSVP

If you are interested in joining MVA and would like to attend as an observer, please email [email protected]

Burnaby MVA Leaders meet with Burnaby Mayor-elect Mike Hurley


November 1, 2018 - MVA Leaders from BCGEU, UNITE HERE 40, Anglican Diocese of New Westminster Eco-Justice Unit, CUPE 23, ATU Local 1724 met with Mayor-elect Mike Hurley to discuss how we as civil society organizations might work together with the new Burnaby government in the shaping of Burnaby's future.

We secured a commitment to work together on the City of Burnaby becoming a living wage employer. Mr Hurley also agreed to support our affordable transit and housing proposals.

Major topics of discussion included addressing the housing crisis, initiating work on anti-poverty measures such as the living wage for the city, and ensuring that those in need have access to affordable public transit. We look forward to working with Mayor Hurley as well as to building strong working relationships with other members of the city council. 

Special thanks to MVA's Burnaby Chair, Denis Boko from CUPE 23 for coordinating this meeting 11 days after the election.  Mike Hurley was elected Mayor of Burnaby on October 20th, 2018 and will be sworn in on November 5th.

If you are an MVA member who would like to get involved with our Burnaby team, we invite you to our next meeting on November 15, 2018 at 6pm in Burnaby. Location to be confirmed.  Please RSVP.

We also welcome new organizations in Burnaby to learn more about joining the MVA.

Summer Relational Meetings

Would you like to meet members from other MVA organizations?

For many MVA members, meeting people from across civil society is one of the most important and meaningful reasons we participate in MVA.

The relationships we build are what keep our alliance strong and able to act in solidarity with each other.

We've already matched up 42 people who have committed to sit down with each other for a conversation over the summer.

If you would like to sign up to be paired with a member from another organization please email [email protected]

Welcome to MVA's newly elected board members

MVA's newly elected Board Members (left to right)
Beverley Pittman, United Way
Deborah Cameron-Fawkes, UFCW 1518
Michelle Livaja, VDLC
Naomi Fahrmann, St. Joseph the Worker
 — at VCC - Vancouver Community College.

Deborah Littman remembers Pat McSherry

I’m so sorry that I can’t be at Pat’s memorial mass tomorrow. All I can do is pass on a few thoughts for the MVA gathering.

I first met Pat when I was visiting Vancouver in 2009. She was among the group working to bring the vision of Metro Vancouver Alliance into being. Her enthusiasm shone through then and never wavered with all the ups and downs and frustrations of our early years. Pat had a remarkable combination of warmth and humour, joy and curiosity (which led her to do fascinating things) with a tenacious determination to achieve her objective.

When she despaired of getting the organizations she loved to join MVA, she got herself onto the board and used her considerable political skills to win people over. She was always so proud of all of the MVA organizations she was from and declared that she would never join any group that was not a member (or that she couldn’t convince to join).

I’m glad that I had a chance to spend time with Pat while she was in hospital. Deb and I visited her just before I left for Toronto and were cheered by her optimism and good spirits. Deb asked whether a chaplain had been to see her. Pat said that there was no need, she had so many priests visiting her, bringing her food and ferrying her home.

Pat was a dear friend and a colleague, political ally and collaborator. The gap that she leaves in all of our hearts will never be filled.

With much sorrow and affection,


Remembering the life of Patricia McSherry

Dear Friends,
It is with deep sorrow that I inform you that Pat McSherry passed away peacefully this morning (March 23rd) surrounded by loved ones.  Her last words in part were, "Take care of yourselves and take care of one another."

Her funeral Mass will be on March 28th at 2:00 pm at
St. James Anglican Church on East Cordova and Gore Sts.

Please keep her family in your prayers.
In love and sorrow with hopes of Easter Joy,

Reverend Dr. Victoria Marie, Pastor,
Our Lady of Guadalupe Tonantzin Community Society

IAF Leaders Seminar: The Birth of Politics with Dr. Melissa Lane

IAF seminar in Phoenix with the brilliant Dr. Melissa Lane on her book the Birth of Politics.
For two days we talked Greek and Roman political ideas and the enduring lessons for our time. MVA was represented by leaders Audrey Anne Guay of St. James Anglican Church and Deb Cameron-Fawkes of UFCW 1518 along with MVA organizer Tracey Maynard.
We learned so much about participatory vs representative democracy, accountability, timing, citizenship and so much more.
Wonderful to meet with brilliant Melissa Lane and connect with IAF organizing colleagues in the US.
Interfaith Education Fund seminars bring together civil society leaders from IAF organizations and leading public intellectuals to discuss politics, philosophy and history.


A Message from Deborah Littman, MVA's Retiring Lead Organizer

So, today is my last day as organizer for this wonderful organization. It will be harder to leave you than I can possible say. Organizing for MVA has not just been my job, it has been my passion and my vocation.

Back in 2008 I was presenting at a forum on living wage, when I was approached by Fr. Clarence Li. He said, “A group of us are trying to start a broad-based community organization and we’re not getting very far. Do you think you could give us some advice?”

At the time I was Vice-Chair of the Board of London Citizens, a similar community organization in the UK. I had spent almost a decade as a leader in that vibrant organization, building new chapters and campaigning on low pay and the rights of refugees. I was happy to share my experience with Fr Li and his colleagues Sr. Elizabeth Kellaher, Fr. Ian Stewart and Robert Doll.

Over coffee they told me how helpless they felt about conditions in Vancouver – the lack of affordable housing, the rising level of poverty in a wealthy city.

I was impressed by their anger and their passion for change. They knew what they wanted to build but they needed help figuring out how to make it happen.

Building a broad-based community organization takes patience and slow, careful planning. It takes hundreds of conversations with people from across the community before you know who has the appetite to work together for the common good.

I had an opportunity to come back to Vancouver for three months later that year. During that time, I worked with Fr. Li and other leaders like Lane Walker, Margaret Marquardt, Barry Morris and Michael Markwick, to get the exciting process of building Metro Vancouver Alliance off the ground. Many wonderful people joined their efforts, helped by Joe Chrastil, Regional Organizer for IAF NW.

A few years later, when the group had raised the money to hire a full-time organizer, they made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.

In June 2011 I walked into the Rectory at Sacred Heart Catholic Church on Campbell St. to meet with Fr. Ken Forester. Fr Ken took one look at me and said, “you look hungry”. He was right – I was a new organizer just off the plane, and I hadn’t even had time to shop for food. Fr Ken offered me a sandwich and we rolled up our sleeves.

The founders of MVA started by using the most important tool in broad-based organizing – one-to-one relational meetings. We met with leaders from unions and neighborhood houses, faith organizations and community groups, people active on campaigns and people just trying to hold their own organizations together. We listened to their ideas and their concerns, and then we challenged them to think about what they cared about deeply enough to act on, what they were prepared to do to make Vancouver a better place to live.

One of the biggest challenges we faced in those early days was the impatience of our potential members to start campaigning on the issues right away. With so many urgent problems to solve, it was hard to explain why we needed to take so much time building relationships and listening to one another. Why not just whip up a rally on the steps of the Art Gallery?

People who know me, have heard my thoughts on Art Gallery protests. I always ask “what did the curator of the Art Gallery ever do to us?”. The truth is, if you want change, you need power, and power comes from many, diverse people coming together to find common ground, even if they see the problem from different angles.

It means carefully planning a campaign aimed at the people with the with the authority to give you what you are after.

And finally, it means using your campaign to discover and train new leaders who will carry on the fight. The Iron Rule of community organizing is, never, EVER do for others what they can do for themselves.

Every one of you in this room has the capacity to take action to make this a better city. Some of you are well seasoned leaders, others are just testing your wings. But you are so fortunate to be part of this unique organization. MVA offers you training and support, but most important, MVA offers you a chance to get to know and collaborate with people you might never come across in any other setting.

Please take advantage of this opportunity. It will enrich your lives, it will offer you unexpected allies – and it will build your power.

Last April I watched proudly as a room packed with over 800 MVA delegates from our 57 member organizations won real commitments from Premier John Horgan and Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver. MVA’s ability to press candidates beyond the usual party policies reflects the power gathered in the room that night, and the growing influence of MVA generally. It is a power that derives from the relationships we have built and our very different way of doing politics.

It has been a rare privilege to be part of taking MVA from an idea in the heads of a few, dedicated people, to this diverse, powerful force for community change. Getting to know you and your institutions has been one of the great pleasures of my life.

Together we have built an alliance we can all be proud of. My greatest retirement present would be to see MVA thrive and grow. I know I leave you in good hands, with Tracey Maynard your new Lead Organizer.

But, wherever I am in the future, my heart will be with you!




Member Institutions Accomplishments IAF Northwest


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