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Impact: Leading Social Recovery

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One of the young leaders stepping up to be a champion of recovery in our community is Chantal Beaver.  In addition to being Executive Director of The Hub Family Resource Centre and sitting on a number of boards, she is also Chair of the Social Recovery Task Force and the Early Years Coalition.  Chantal was a guest on the IMPACT radio show earlier this spring when she reflected on what has changed and what has stayed the same after the fire.

“While the core of what I do and where I work and the reason that I am here is the same, how that is delivered is so different,” she said.

“Everything is measured in pre-fire and post-fire.  We talk about children in the context of development, but also children in families in the context of recovery.”

There was a sense, even during evacuation, that being able to offer resources to parents was going to be very important.  Several staff members of The Hub got training in disaster recovery parenting.  In fact, they have experienced a 144 per cent increase for parental services and support since the fire.

“We know that in the aftermath of disaster there are parenting challenges,” shared Beaver.  “Disaster Recovery Triple P is a variant of our core Triple P Positive Parenting Program.  Parents have identified problems getting to sleep, nightmares and increased anxiety in their children.  We have also had reports of post-wildfire regression in one or more areas of development, such as potty training and children being hyper-alert for signs of danger.”

The Hub Family Resource Centre has secured multi-year funding from the United Way’s Fire Recovery Fund to implement a recovery parental coaching program above and beyond what they normally offer.

Her focus on early childhood and her determination and drive to see the community recover are quite personal.

“I have two small children and for me, ultimately, I want to make sure they have the best community possible to live in, to grow in and to make their home.”

Chantal is encouraged by what she has seen in the first year of recovery, in terms of seeing collective impact.

“As an early childhood education community in particular, and as a social profit community as a whole, it’s brought us so much closer together.”

She was part of a group of local community leaders who travelled to the Tamarack Institute’s conference on collective impact earlier this year, supported by the Suncor Energy Foundation. 

“We went through this together and we were coming at it from very different viewpoints within the community of Fort McMurray,” she said.  “We were all looking through the recovery lens. We had so many wonderful conversations about how we collectively impact this community.”

What is this term all about: collective impact?  According to Chantel, it’s a pretty basic concept.

“Collective impact is coming together with one common purpose and having a benefit to the larger group while benefitting the individual organizations.”

In the case of the Social Recovery Task Force, a representative body that has been active since the early days of re-entry, collective impact is being achieved by making sure that all the sub-sectors are represented, informed, and heard. 

“We know that recovery is not a six-month process, it is going to take years,” she said.  “All of those individuals matter, and every story matters, whether we lost our home or we went through the evacuation.”

In the early stages of recovery, the Social Recovery Task Force was a great venue for information sharing and collaboration. 

“We are also a group of doers,” reflected Chantal.  “Moving forward we are proud to be working from a newly developed strategic plan which focuses on information sharing and collaboration, as well as capturing  our journey as a tool for future disaster impacted communities.”

How does she do it all?  According to Chantal Beaver, her involvement in the community has evolved over the years.

“During the first 24 months or so I was a very internal Executive Director,” said Beaver. “My focus was on building a strong team, policy, and operations. Ultimately, that 24 months of having my head down enabled me to eventually participate on a greater level externally. My staff and I am truly not blowing smoke when I say this, are the best there are. I have full confidence in the day-to-day of The Hub and that allows me to be able to spend hours in an SRT meeting, or advocating via the Early Years Coalition. When it comes to my Board commitments with the Regional Recreation Corporation and Fort McMurray Boys and Girls Club, I simply believe in their potential. That and I am junky for governance.”


IMPACT is a collaboration of The United Way of Fort McMurray, FuseSocial, Shaw TV Fort McMurray and 91.1 The Bridge.  It is heard on Tuesdays at 10:30 am. It is rebroadcast on Shaw Cable 10.


Russell is a 19 year resident of Wood Buffalo, a community builder, facilitator, social media practitioner, actor, director and artist. He began his Middle Age Bulge blog as a way of capturing his journey to wellness. It has morphed into a daily journal about all aspects of life in the north. Russell works with The United Way of Fort McMurray and co-owns Birdsong Connections with his wife Heather.