Context won the Indigenous Engagement Award for its work on the BC Flood and Wildfire Review, demonstrating how intentional, culturally appropriate engagement with Indigenous communities can happen within and alongside broader public engagement efforts to result in a better decision.
The company also won a Core Values Award for Creativity, Contribution, and Innovation for the “It’s Time” mobility pricing program in Metro Vancouver. Evaluators noted the program’s approachable, multilingual engagement, and the way the team was able to humanize complex issues to connect people to the project.
“Our vision of engagement is to empower diverse populations, especially those often unheard, to provide input on important decisions, and to see their feedback taken into account,” says John Forsdick, founder of Context and Argyle’s Executive Vice President and Senior Counsel, Public Engagement. “These projects turned two complex, personal topics – disaster response and road charging – into real, made-in-B.C. recommendations.”
Context became part of the Argyle Group earlier this year, a strategic decision for Argyle to enhance its capabilities in public engagement at the national level. Jane Newlands, previously a vice-president at Context, was recently appointed as Argyle’s Senior Vice President, Public Engagement, and leader of the national practice.
“We are proud to accept these awards, and thank the project leads and teams – the BC Flood and Wildfire Co-Chairs and the Mobility Pricing Independent Commission and project team – for their leadership and courage in enabling and embracing such a creative and inclusive approach,” says Newlands.
“These awards are a testament to our team’s leadership and innovative thinking in public engagement,” said Daniel Tisch, CEO of the Argyle Group. “Argyle sees public engagement as the essential first step in making better decisions, backed by mutual understanding and trust from stakeholders and communities.”
About the programs
The IAP2 awards were presented at IAP2’s North American Conference in Charlotte, North Carolina. Context was distinguished for the following programs:
BC Flood and Wildfire Review: The Province of BC tasked Context with conducting a review of disaster preparedness and response, after devastating wildfires and flooding hit in 2017. These events disproportionately affected First Nations Communities. Context convened nearly two thousand people across visits to 14 First Nations communities and presented at three large-scale First Nations gatherings. The processes included one-on-one meetings with key stakeholders and First Nations government officials, sharing-circle-style sessions and online forums and was completed within three months.
Context successfully delivered over 100 strategic recommendations, which underscored the need for improved thinking and approaches by governments in adequately responding to Indigenous Peoples, notably First Nations, in emergency situations. This included building cultural sensitivity training and awareness of racism and discrimination into emergency management plans and to integrate traditional knowledge. More than 80 percent of the recommendations came from the public consultation process, a testament to the effectiveness of Context’s Indigenous Engagement and earning it honours in this category. Watch the video here.
“It’s Time” Program: Context heard from more than 17,000 Metro Vancouverites to discuss the future of mobility pricing in the region as a means to combat traffic congestion. Context was tasked with collecting input that reflected the region’s diversity, and developing recommendations based on the community’s feedback on affordability and taxation policies.
Context employed transparent and inclusive engagement and humanizing communications that allowed diverse perspectives and considerations to be heard. Context successfully navigated a controversial issue and increased participation from underrepresented groups through targeted communications and engagement efforts in four regionally dominant languages. Thanks to the credibility and transparency of the program, the TransLink board of directors unanimously approved the recommendations. Watch the video here.
Argyle enables private, public and non-profit sector leaders to understand their publics, make better decisions, communicate with creativity and build the relationships that drive their business success. For 40 years, Argyle has been chosen by some of the world’s biggest brands, put big ideas onto the public agenda, and become one of Canada’s largest management-owned communications consultancies.
In 2019, the Argyle Group integrated the businesses of Argyle Public Relationships, a national public relations firm, with ChangeMakers, an acclaimed Winnipeg-based creative and social marketing firm, and Context, Western Canada’s leader in public engagement and public health programming. Argyle has more than 90 full-time employees in Toronto, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary, Victoria and Ottawa, with affiliates in Montreal and Quebec City, and in 17 countries around the world.