The second round of applications for CanWILL’s Inclusive Community Initiatives (ICI) is now closed.

We thank all applicants and look forward to announcing grant recipients in September 2022.

Funding will be awarded to a total of 20 to 25 inclusive community initiatives through two rounds of applications. Each initiative can receive up to $10,000.

For the latest news on FCM's gender equality programming, see FCM Momentum.

Ten projects selected for Round 1 of our Inclusive Community Initiatives (ICI)

With this funding, CanWILL is supporting municipalities and regions that are working in collaboration with local partners to help women (with a particular focus on Indigenous, Black, racialized, youth and members of the LGBTQ2S+ community) run for office or remain in leadership positions in local government.

In this first round, $5,000 to $10,000 in funding is awarded to each of the ten selected initiatives. The next application round will be announced in the spring of 2022.

L’Association française des municipalités de l’Ontario (AFMO)
In 2022, let's aim for parity, diversity and inclusion

Initiative summary. AFMO will offer a training in French to women, youth and members of Indigenous and LGBTQ2S+ communities to help prepare anyone interested in standing for the October 2022 municipal election. The course includes 6 video clips featuring elected Franco-Ontarian leaders/role models (women and men) from different regions and backgrounds. Additionally, a campaign will be conducted among the public and with AFMO’s 39 member municipalities to raise awareness about the importance of parity and diversity in municipal politics. AFMO plans to launch two additional initiatives to sustain and augment efforts to achieve the goals of parity, diversity and inclusion in French speaking communities: the establishment of an AFMO Women’s Commission and a discussion with its members to build agreement around developing a provincial strategy. 

Purpose and expected impact. The aim of the Parity, Diversity and Inclusion in 2022 project is to increase the number of women candidates/elected women from underrepresented backgrounds in the 2022 municipal election, particularly in French Ontario. The project will generate increased awareness and understanding of the importance of parity in politics in AFMO’s 39 member communities and enrich municipal leadership in French Ontario with the inclusion of French-speaking women from historically underrepresented communities. The partners will make the new French language training and resources accessible to AFMO members and others who may be interested in replication. 

Partners. The Association of Francophone Municipalities of Ontario (AFMO) is partnering with Leadership féminin Prescott-Russell (LFPR) - the only organization in French-speaking Ontario dedicated to women's leadership in municipal politics - to implement the project.  

Context. Currently, women councillors represent only 29.5% on Ontario’s municipal councils and no Ontario municipal association offers a strategy aimed at achieving both parity and diversity.  

This initiative is supported by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Canadian Women in Local Leadership (CanWILL) Program with funding from Women and Gender Equality Canada (WAGE).

Chestermere, Alberta
Toward Parity Project: Next Generation

Initiative summary. A series of activities designed to include and support women from marginalized or newcomer communities to run for municipal leadership positions is being implemented in Chestermere. This new project – Next Generation - builds on successes gained through previous efforts to build parity. Project activities includes a survey with female residents from underrepresented backgrounds to help define current challenges and barriers, dissemination of information about municipal governance and how to contribute, a virtual skills development workshop, the creation of a new participatory platform and network to foster dialogue and mentorship and sponsorship initiatives.   

Purpose and expected impact. This initiative aims to strengthen the capacity of women, particularly those who are underrepresented, to run for, assume and/or remain in leadership positions in local government. Enhanced inclusion, improved access to information and increased support for women, particularly those from marginalized and newcomer communities is anticipated. The project is expected to lead to more positive community perspectives about parity, diversity and inclusion, enhanced civic participation in the local democratic process, and a more gender and diversity-responsive municipal government. Local knowledge, tools and best practices on municipal roles and responsibilities will be available beyond the life of the project.  

Partners. A new partnership involving the City of Chestermere, the Rocky View Immigrant Society and the Synergy, Youth and Community Development Society has been created to expand community connections, identify women and girls across all marginalized and newcomer groups interested in local leadership, and to implement activities.  

Context. The City of Chestermere’s history includes strong, female elected leaders.  However, recent analysis confirms all women continue to face barriers in engaging in municipal politics, and generally, citizen engagement and participation remains low.   

This initiative is supported by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Canadian Women in Local Leadership (CanWILL) Program with funding from Women and Gender Equality Canada (WAGE).

Edmonton, Alberta
Policy Competition and Councillor Matching Project

Initiative summary. In this Edmonton-based project, young women and non-binary people (aged 18-40) who are Black, Indigenous or racialized, marginalized and low-income learn how to develop policy and ground it in their lived experiences. The competition’s theme is “recognizing leadership capacity all underrepresented people already have” and incorporates inclusive, gender-based analysis approaches (GBA+).

Six participants will win a spot in a week-long mentoring program with Councillors to help them build connections and networks and secure endorsements. Activities include outreach, participant and competition judges’ recruitment, mobilizing business sponsorships, delivering a virtual workshop/panels, developing a campaign kit and media training. Participants are also receiving transportation support to facilitate their participation.    

Purpose and expected impact. The Policy Competition and Councillor Matching project will address the lack of representation in local politics from diverse women from historically underrepresented groups by working with them to identify challenges and barriers unique to them and offering resources and support to help them run for and thrive in local leadership. New initiatives and tools will support more women and gender diverse individuals to assume a seat at the municipal table and contribute to city building. The partners expect the policy competition and matching program will become an annual event with assistance from current councillor mentors during the remainder of their terms (2025) and from local sponsors.

Partners. Edmonton is partnering with Parity YEG and its Women's Advocacy Voice of Edmonton (WAVE) Committee to implement activities.  

Context. The last municipal election resulted in 8 women, including 2 of colour, elected to Edmonton’s Council. Discussions with these officials identified multiple challenges during their campaigns including tokenism (more interest in their views about race than policy priorities) and a lack of connections and endorsements. 

This initiative is supported by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Canadian Women in Local Leadership (CanWILL) Program with funding from Women and Gender Equality Canada (WAGE).

Federation of PEI Municipalities (FPEIM)

Initiative Summary. One virtual and 5 in-person campaign schools are being organized in 3 rural and 2 urban municipalities to provide women with knowledge, skills and tools to successfully run for municipal leadership positions in the upcoming municipal election. A campaign manual, childcare and travel assistance are supporting candidate participation.

The project will showcase diverse women’s experiences and promote them as municipal leaders. Post-election, course effectiveness will be evaluated by looking at the proportion of women from historically underrepresented groups who ran and the percentage who won. A post-election roundtable will provide an opportunity for candidates to share their campaign experience including any trauma or gender-based violence faced. Candidates will also be asked to identify structural changes, advocacy needs and/or other recommendations to help reach gender parity.

Purpose and expected impact. SheLeads is empowering women from underrepresented communities across PEI to run as candidates in the October 2022 municipal election. The campaign workshops, guide and report will be posted on the websites of the FPEIM and PEI Coalition for Women in Government to promote ongoing remote learning and to inspire replication. Partners also plan to advocate for multi-year funding from municipalities to enable ongoing efforts towards diversity and parity. A final project report will be presented to FPEIM’s 41 members and the provincial Municipal Affairs Branch.

Partners. The Federation of PEI Municipalities (FPEIM) is partnering with the PEI Coalition for Women in Government to implement this initiative and engaging PEI’s Council of People with Disabilities, Immigration and Refugee Services Association PEI, BIPOC-USHR and the 2SLGBTQ+ PEERS Alliance to assist in reaching the participant target group.

Context. While women make up 39.7% of councillors and 26.9% of mayors in PEI, women with disabilities, from BIPOC and LBGTQ2S+ communities and youth (18-35) are poorly represented. This initiative addresses that disparity.

This initiative is supported by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Canadian Women in Local Leadership (CanWILL) Program with funding from Women and Gender Equality Canada (WAGE).

Hamilton, Ontario
Reaching for Power

Initiative summary. Reaching for Power is targeting 60 women from historically underrepresented groups in Hamilton (non-binary persons, racialized women, Indigenous women and LGBTQ2S+ individuals) to participate in an interactive learning conference that will give them the training, tools and confidence to participate in municipal politics or municipal leadership roles.  

Health guidelines permitting, the in-person (alternatively virtual) conference is taking place in Spring 2022 and featuring 10 workshops covering topics that reflect needs identified in a community consultation survey as well as running in a municipal election, municipal leadership roles/responsibilities and how to navigate leadership and political systems. The conference is featuring a keynote speaker and leaders from underrepresented communities as workshop facilitators. It is designed to reduce barriers to participation by providing space, interpretation, a live-captioned conference video, take-home resources and participant travel support. 

Purpose and impact. This project will help women/youth from underrepresented backgrounds to engage as municipal leaders.  Project partners plan to repeat the event virtually to reach a wider audience, share conference lessons and promote participants’ names and face recognition. They will also encourage participants to share their new knowledge and experience with their communities/organizations.  

Partners. The City of Hamilton and YWCA Hamilton have a longstanding relationship and experience advancing women’s issues. The project will build on results of the partners’ 2020 Reaching for Power initiative and deepen relationships between the city and diverse community partners to leverage support for women’s participation in civic leadership. Hamilton’s Status of Women Committee has also committed their support.  

Context. Hamilton is a very multicultural city and although 7 of its 15 Council members are women, the first woman of colour was only elected in 2018.   

This initiative is supported by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Canadian Women in Local Leadership (CanWILL) Program with funding from Women and Gender Equality Canada (WAGE).

Markham, Ontario
Leading for Change

Initiative summary. A series of 6-8 weekly virtual and in-person learning opportunities are being offered to 10 individuals from underrepresented communities aspiring to municipal leadership in Markham. A range of media vehicles is being used to promote the initiative. Workshops, networking opportunities, coaching circles and mentors will guide and support participants. Thematic sessions will include how municipal government works, leadership and decision-making, the electoral process and campaigning, civic engagement and addressing local gender and race-related barriers and challenges. Resource experts are designing the curriculum and tools and helping champion the initiative and community elders/peers will provide culturally relevant coaching as participants navigate their journey to municipal leadership.  

Purpose and expected impact. The Leading for Change project will equip women and non-binary individuals and youth from BIPOC communities with the knowledge, training, skills and networks to pursue municipal leadership roles. Participants will benefit from new infrastructure (community networks, mentorship and sponsorship programs) and a supportive leadership learning environment. There is potential for continued engagement for current and future participants as mentors/coaches, guest speakers and workshop facilitators.  The city-community partnership has strong potential to facilitate continued work on municipal leadership parity and diversity.

Partners. Markham is partnering with the South Asian and Tamil Women’s Collective (SATWC), with support from a community advisory group to co-design and implement the project.

Context. Diversity and inclusion are priorities in Markham’s Strategic Plan, Inclusion Charter and Diversity Action Plan.  Still, 75% of Council members are men, more than 60% are white and Markham ranks 22/32 on the Ontario 2021 Municipal Democracy Index revealing certain gaps in public participation and diverse representation.  Although education and training about diversity, racism and bias are provided by the city, certain barriers still need to be overcome.

This initiative is supported by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Canadian Women in Local Leadership (CanWILL) Program with funding from Women and Gender Equality Canada (WAGE).

Middlesex County, Ontario
Increasing Women's Participation in Local Government

Initiative summary. A virtual workshop is bringing together women from underrepresented groups living in small, rural communities to take the first steps towards leadership in Middlesex County. The event is also open to women from underrepresented groups in the City of London and area, as well as men who wish to support women leaders. The workshop will build women’s knowledge, confidence and capacities to help them put their name on the ballot. Guest speakers will share their experience and expertise on eliminating barriers, building networks and acquiring skills and tools needed to run for local office. Sessions will also cover volunteering in a campaign and advocating for local solutions to issues impacting women from rural communities. To enhance participation, the workshop is being widely advertised through social and traditional media, and childcare and transportation will be provided.

Purpose and expected impact. The project’s purpose is to assist women from underrepresented communities to run in Ontario’s 2022 municipal election. Candidates are expected to run and hopefully win. The Women’s Caucus plans to continue advocating for women and families in the County through follow-up with participants, new webinars/events and networking. Engaging two tiers of local governments to increase diversity and gender parity in rural leadership introduces an innovative, collaborative municipal approach that can be replicated in other rural communities to ensure more voices at leadership tables.  

Partners. The Middlesex County Women’s Caucus is launching the Increasing Women’s Participation in Local Government project in partnership with the Dorchester and District Lions Club and the London Middlesex Immigration Program has offered to support the initiative.

Context. The County’s Council, which represents 8 municipalities in rural Southwestern Ontario, currently has gender parity and is committed to maintaining and advancing parity in future.

This initiative is supported by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Canadian Women in Local Leadership (CanWILL) Program with funding from Women and Gender Equality Canada (WAGE).

Niagara Region, Ontario
Seat at the Table Workshops and Mentorship

Initiative summary. The 2022 municipal election provides an opportunity to advance Niagara’s 5-year Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Action Plan through Seat at the Table, a virtual 7 workshop series and mentorship program that targets 150 – 200 women participants from underrepresented groups. The project will be broadly promoted through 200 community organizations that serve women from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds (BIPOC, low income and faith groups and newcomers). Pre-election sessions will cover municipal government, civil engagement and thriving in the political sphere including handling discrimination and harassment, campaigning and entering politics. Post-election, sessions on council meetings and procedures will be presented to 40 – 50 newly-elected women. The final session will be offered to 100 men interested in championing women leaders. New tools, resources, networking and mentoring opportunities as well as childcare and transportation assistance will support these activities.

Purpose and expected impact. Seat at the Table aims to create a more welcoming, inclusive community and support women from underrepresented backgrounds to run for election. More women from diverse backgrounds are expected to be elected as municipal officials or take on community leadership roles. The partners plan to continue promoting women’s leadership and providing access to resources after project completion and hopes their collaborative, regional partnership and approach will inspire other communities to replicate their model for bridging the gender parity - diversity gap.

Partners. Niagara Region and its 12 municipalities are partnering with the Chamber of Commerce’s Women in Niagara (WIN) Council and the City of St. Catharines to implement the project. The YWCA, Future Black Female, and Services 4 Humanity (Muslim Senior Circle) will assist with conducting outreach, updating workshop content and providing speakers and mentors.

Context. Women hold only 27% of seats on elected councils and 45% on advisory committees/boards and no visible minority women serve on councils.

This initiative is supported by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Canadian Women in Local Leadership (CanWILL) Program with funding from Women and Gender Equality Canada (WAGE).

Rossland, British Columbia
Pride and Power

Initiative summary. Rossland’s municipal leadership and diversity project - Pride and Power -  is engaging the LGBTQ2S+ community using a community-centered, participatory approach and safe, comfortable communications and engagement methods. Stakeholder “listing and learning” sessions with Pride groups and city officials and staff will review city policies, procedures and programs and develop data on systemic discrimination related to gender, gender identity or sexual orientation. Research will seek to uncover policies, training and best practices in rural municipalities that are successfully supporting diverse public participation and leadership. And a 3-part engagement series is facilitating participants to review research findings, develop localized solutions and prepare a report and recommendations for presentation to Council.

Purpose and expected impact. This initiative aims to engage and encourage LGBTQ2S+ individuals to consider municipal leadership. Participants will increase their civic knowledge and form new relationships with each other and the city. Rossland will strengthen engagement with communities representing diverse women/youth and have new information about policy, language and procedural barriers that need attention. Although partners hope for results in the 2022 municipal election, they expect more gender-diverse individuals will consider municipal leadership over the longer term. And they intend to share their approach and results with FCM and other municipalities who may wish to replicate it.

Partners. Rossland and the Seven Summits Centre for Learning are partnering to implement the work with support from a local consultant with expertise on intersectionality in rural development needs and contexts.

Context. While LGBTQ2S+ candidates for elected office are increasing at provincial and federal levels, most candidates are in urban centres with few in rural ridings. Rossland has embraced and supports Pride-related activities to send the message of inclusion. However, to date no individual from the LGBTQ2S+ community has run for office locally nor has research been conducted on their concerns and issues.   

This initiative is supported by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Canadian Women in Local Leadership (CanWILL) Program with funding from Women and Gender Equality Canada (WAGE).

Kitimat & Smithers, British Columbia
Elect Her! Northwest BC: This is What Leadership Looks Like

Initiative summary. Elect Her! Northwest BC is providing online (potentially in-person) panels, workshops and training sessions on running for office and how to thrive once elected to participants who self-identify as Indigenous, Black and other racialized women, youth and members of the LGBTQ2S+ community. Thematic workshops will explore a) redefining leadership (traditional Indigenous leadership and governance, barriers to running for office for women with diverse backgrounds, policies that promote a diverse, inclusive municipal environment), b) running a campaign and entering office and c) developing skills to shift a discriminating culture and remove structural barriers.

Gender analysis, model policies and best practices are being disseminated to small communities in the region to help them adapt their practices and tools to foster a more diverse, inclusive and equitable municipal environment and support individuals who wish to pursue leadership roles. Once elected, participants will have ongoing opportunities to connect to other networks and attend workshops on relevant topics. Participants are being provided with childcare and transportation to support their participation in the project.

Purpose and impact. This project aims to decrease the gender/diversity deficit in Northwest BC and normalize the role of women of all ages, ethnicities, sexual orientation and lived experiences as elected leaders contributing to gender parity in all First Nation and municipal councils. Residents in the region will be more awareness of the benefits of electing diverse women leaders to their councils. More underrepresented women will gain knowledge, skills and confidence to run for elected office and existing and potential women leaders from diverse communities will be highlighted and celebrated regularly as candidates and elected officials. Municipalities plan to ask municipal and Indigenous councils for small grants in 2023 and beyond to support ongoing campaigns. This alliance showcases a unique regional collaborative partnership and capacity building model that can be replicated in other rural areas of Canada.

Partners. Two female Councillors, one each from Kitimat and Smithers, have created an Interim Steering Committee that includes the second ever female Chief of the Haisla Nation. Their community partners, the Bulkley Valley Social Planning Committee (Smithers) and Tamitik Status of Women (Kitimat) will undertake outreach and engagement strategies and implement campaign activities. This project will engage 24 Councils, 12 municipalities and 3 regional districts to help women in the region learn about leadership.

Context. Kitimat has its first female, non-white mayor. However, Kitimat and Smithers only have 1 women on each of their 7 member councils. And while both communities have a significant First Nations population, the councils do not reflect this diversity nor other underrepresented groups.

This initiative is supported by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Canadian Women in Local Leadership (CanWILL) Program with funding from Women and Gender Equality Canada (WAGE).


16 Days of Activism to End Gender-Based Violence (Nov-Dec 2021)

To mark the annual advocacy campaign, we partnered with leading organizations to host two successful events for elected officials and municipal staff. We thank the nearly 100 participants who made these webinars truly interactive.

On December 9, with Glitch, an expert on online safety based in the UK, we offered Digital citizenship and online safety for women in local leadership, a free, two-hour workshop where participants learned how to identify and document different types of online abuse and how to help someone who is being targeted, among other useful skills.

On November 29, with the Canadian Women’s Foundation, the Native Women’s Association of Canada and White Ribbon, we presented Municipal Allyship: Campaigns to End Gender-Based Violence, a free, one-hour, webinar to explore the simple, yet powerful, tools and tips that these organizations designed to prevent gender-based violence.

For access to the recordings, please contact

Why CanWILL?

Despite gains toward equal political representation, there continues to be an important gender gap in leadership for all orders of government in Canada. In 2021, women hold just over a quarter of municipal council seats. This democratic deficit is even more pronounced for women from diverse or marginalized backgrounds. FCM wants to help close this gap because Canada is better served when women and diverse communities contribute their insights and expertise. Their voices enrich our political discourse and inform decision-making.

Canadian Women In Local Leadership (CanWILL) is a three-year project (2021-2024) that is part of FCM’s portfolio of social inclusion initiatives. The project aims to increase the participation and retention of women in municipal leadership and support a more diverse, inclusive and equitable environment in municipal governance processes. The project will prioritize underrepresented women, including Indigenous, Black and other racialized women, as well as youth and members of the LGBTQ2S+ community. The project leverages the success of FCM’s Toward Parity in Municipal Politics (2018-2020) and Diverse Voices (2016-2018) initiatives.

CanWILL aims to achieve four core objectives:

  1. Strengthening the capacity of women, particularly diverse women, to run for elected office
  2. Creating a more conducive context for women leaders to thrive
  3. Enhancing the capacity of municipal stakeholders to address gender-based violence and harassment
  4. Mobilizing knowledge and sharing best practices across municipalities

CanWILL is implemented in partnership with FCM’s membership, provincial and territorial associations (PTAs), as well as key national partners and local stakeholders. It is funded by the federal government through Women and Gender Equality Canada (WAGE).

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