CCIC members include approximately 70 Canadian non-profit organizations working, both in Canada and overseas, on the front lines of social justice, humanitarian aid, economic and democratic development.

About us What we do Working Groups Media RESSOURCES Members
Become a Member
Member Organizations
CCIC Member Profiles
Membership Renewal
Members' Space


Member Profile September 2014


British Columbia Council for International Cooperation



BCCIC staff and members together at the 2014 Annual General Meeting.

This month CCIC met with Michael Simpson, new Executive Director of the British Columbia Council for International Cooperation (BCCIC). Michael shared his views as the new ED of a well-established organization, talked about BCCIC's new  5-year grant agreement with DFATD and explained the work of the Inter Council Network hosted by BCCIC for the next two years... among other things!


CCIC - Over the past few months BCCIC has welcomed a new Executive Director and staff members. What has this time been like? What are you looking forward to as a new team?

Michael Simpson - We basically walked into a well-oiled machine, with a tank full of gas and a clear road map on where we wanted to go. The previous staff and board provided the ideal conditions for a new group of people to drive the council forward.  We have a five year contract of secure funding, we just went through a successful audit which gives us the green light on our operational standards, we have an up to date strategic plan, and an ambitious one at that, and we have a board mandate to rethink our game. We are not walking into a mess, quite the opposite; we are walking into an opportunity that others worked very hard to create and that has made for quite a buzz around the office.  It has been an exciting couple of months because we can concentrate on looking forward, making plans, being resourced to carry these plans out and looking for new opportunities.

We would like to build on what we know but also rethink our identity and our game. All of this requires an identity shift toward “global citizenship” and tackling problems that we view as “ours” and not “theirs” and entertaining the idea that old ways of solving problems will not necessarily solve the new ones.  The recent outbreak of Ebola is a classic example of the need to think globally, not think of the problem as somewhere else…. climate change is another. The older “development” paradigm of “developed” nations developing “underdeveloped” nations is fading rapidly. Even “recipient led programming” does not capture the larger identity we need to embrace. We need to think about our theories of change and, in my view, look at this developmentally; look back historically at how our thinking in the development community has evolved and predict the most likely evolutionary advancement in our own way of seeing things.


CCIC - In July 2014 BCCIC, along with the other provincial and regional councils, secured a 5-year grant agreement from DFATD. Can you explain what this means for BCCIC and your members?

Michael Simpson - The councils have been around for decades and have a proven long-term function for the development community. DFATD obviously recognized this and values our role. Networking is a difficult function to resource as funders often want deliverables in the form of a product not an improved process or more efficient and streamlined relations. I think it is very mature of DFATD to see that the structural function of networking in Canada, like public engagement, actually results in more changes on the ground when it comes to poverty alleviation. They say it is better to teach someone to fish than to give them a fish. In actual fact, networks are like professional development communities of practice for teachers, we improve the overall ability of teachers to teach or more precisely development organizations and practitioners to do their work.  We make the work of development organizations in Canada more informed, they benefit by working in networks and in the long run there are more fish on the table.


CCIC - BCCIC recently became the host for the Inter Council Network for the next two years. Can you briefly explain the work of the ICN and highlight some upcoming initiatives?

Michael Simpson - The ICN is made up of eight councils as we recently welcomed the Yukon into our network, which together represents more than 400 members. The critical value added of the councils is to have a close connection in each region while the value added of the ICN is to bring that understanding to a national consensus. Individuals join organizations because they see that an organization, functionally, can do things they cannot do as individuals. In the same way a network can provide some functions an organization simply cannot. A network of councils can do things an individual council would have difficulty doing. A national poll for example, a collection of best practices from across the country, a coordinated dialogue with government, and a singular consultation point on key issues.

Upcoming ICN initiatives include a national poll on critical questions of Canadian perceptions and values regarding development and sustainability issues. We will be holding regular webinars to develop the capacity of organizations in Canada. Unlike public engagement, capacity development is about improving our game, not talking with others about development. Obviously, we have developed regional expertise in Canada depending on how each council specialized and followed their passions or priorities. We can learn from each other in that regard with a toolkit of great methods that we have been publishing as the “Global Hive”. We are working on that site, which I recommend, and we are continually talking about theories of change, best practices, success stories and all the other modalities for getting better at what we do or developing ourselves and our capacity. Of course, we also believe that networks and the ICN in particular are the best place to work with government to provide more and better funding mechanisms for the development community. Canada has a proud history of partnership and civil society involvement and we believe networks are better placed to discuss the delicate issues of money and resources and support as they can work on behalf of their membership (which in the case of the ICN is most of the sector in Canada). We have also increasingly become a focal point for consultation with government and this is a really, really welcome change spearheaded by the current Minister and the CCIC.


CCIC - Why is CCIC membership important to BCCIC?

Michael Simpson - It is important that organizations maintain their individual flavour, yet there is also a need to maintain common principles as a community of practice. CCIC has played this role and is central to the policy discussions that are taking place on this. It has a long history of policy engagement and I think all of the councils across Canada look to CCIC to stay informed on the International arena, understand what is going on in Ottawa and look for trends with other sectors. 

It is no secret that organizational strategies of development actors in Canada can be quite different; at times seemingly at odds with each other. While diversity is welcome there is also a need to recognize, after years of experience in the field, that there are some things that can do more harm than good: activities that can set us all collectively backwards not forwards, however well-intentioned they might be. We now have the Istanbul Principles as a guide for CSO work and CCIC has a Code of Ethics. DFATD has a CSO Policy that also helps us to understand how to mutually hold ourselves accountable as Canadians. 

A national network, like CCIC can make room for different modalities, different stages of understanding and different perspectives and place these different approaches within a common framework that we all agree is ethical and proven to do more good than harm. I like to think that we are members because CCIC is the focal point in Canada for this common understanding. CCIC is how Canadians have chosen to work within the broad international development community to ensure we are leaders in CSO engagement on development issues globally. An individual is part of an organization, which is part of a council, which is part of an inter-council and all of this is complemented by a Canadian Council embedded within an international CSO identity. We are at a wonderful point in history where this identity, which transcends and includes each previous identity, is being valued for what it can provide at each layer.  I think all of the leaders in the development community can see this complementary relationship and how each is nested within the other, transcending and including and yet relying on each identity shift to have a unique function.



  • Employment
  • 10-point agenda
  • Istanbul Principles
  • Code of Ethics
  • Become a Member
  • CCIC Publications
  • Employment