Building a better online Canada: empowerment during a critical time

On June 8th, 2017 Alison attended the launch event for CIP recipient from 2016, Be the Choice, an online breast cancer decision tree.

I am a new employee at CIRA, having just started working here this past March. One of the reasons I was drawn to CIRA was their commitment to building a better online Canada. And specifically, I was interested in the Community Investment Program (CIP) , which provides $1 million to Canadian organizations doing good things through the Internet. My professional background is in the charity sector so I felt a natural connection to this program.

On June 8th, 2017, one project in particular solidified my connection to CIP. It was on this date that I attended the launch event for CIP recipient from 2016, Be the Choice, an online breast cancer decision tree.

The event was held at Sidedoor in Ottawa, a restaurant with an elegant ambiance. When I arrived I could feel the buzz of excitement in the room. The women and men within it were greeting each other with hugs and it was clear that Be the Choice was run by individuals with great passion and supported by people with equal commitment to it.

Two co-founders of BTC

Be the Choice co-founders Melanie Adrian and Robin Beasley discuss life-saving online decision tree.

I noticed co-founder Melanie Adrian right away. She looked beautiful and literally glowed with happiness at the launch of this life-saving tool she and co-founder Robin Beasley conceived of during their treatment of breast cancer. Both are survivors in more ways than one.

Melanie and Robin addressed the crowd and moderated a panel of experts who had contributed to the decision tree. This included doctors, professors and breast cancer survivors. Each individual spoke of the value of the tool; that this tool would save lives and make the confusing experience of a breast cancer diagnosis less terrifying.

My colleague Julie Lepine said a few words as well, sharing her pride to fund this tool on behalf of everyone at CIRA. Those of us who attended the event from CIRA were honoured to be there.

It was an emotional night, one filled with smiles, laughter and a few tears. It was a reminder that building a better online Canada can mean different things to different people. In this case, it's about using the Internet to provide reliable and vital information to women and men going through what is likely the most difficult situation imaginable.

One word resonated and was repeated throughout the night: empowerment. Be the Choice empowers people to take control of their diagnosis and treatment. A better online Canada is one where Canadians can access what they need, when they need it and know that it is reliable and real. Empowerment feels like a perfect word to describe CIP as well.

CIRA recently announced the fourth round of CIP funding recipients and the projects CIRA is funding this year will make a difference for Canadians in many ways. From digital literacy, to cybersecurity, to improving online services and data collection, it'll be interesting to see how these projects tackle these issues and empower Canadians over the next year.

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