Advocacy Toolkit Extra

How to start making change: An introduction to lobbying for the causes you care about

How to start making change: An introduction to lobbying for the causes you care about. Ottawa public policy organization Citizens for Public Justice says that letters and emails count the same, but that phone calls can be more influential.

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Meeting with young people

Engaging Younger Generations

Younger generations should be seen and heard. In fact, they are citizens with rights and responsibilities in Canada, and their unique perspectives should be considered.

The question is: How can younger generations engage in advocacy?

Including the younger generations in advocacy requires responsible discretion, but excluding them from all advocacy activities is not the answer. Empowering them to exercise their rights and responsibilities means creating spaces where they can voice their own concerns and recommendations to decision-makers. This includes advocating on behalf of themselves and on behalf of others.

Advantages of Involving the Younger Generations in Advocacy

  • Increases dignity, fairness, and equality for children and youth.
  • Adds a new perspective that adults may not have.

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Tools for Education

The Blanket Exercise

KAIROS Canada and the Aboriginal Rights Coalition worked with Indigenous elders and teachers to develop this tool to learn about the relationship between the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal (especially government) community. The exercise uses blankets to represent the lands (what is now Canada), and the distinct First Nations that remain in Canada today. Participants represent the First Peoples. There are various scripts available for adults/teens and children. Get more information and access The Blanket Exercise resources from KAIROS Canada.

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Writing a letter

Writing a Letter to a Cabinet Minister

See a sample letter (WORD | PDF)

Depending on the policy or concern, you may want to send a letter (or e-mail) to a cabinet minister. Your MP may not be fully aware of the issues you are concerned with and they may have less influence over the policy. You should consider who the best contact is for the issue or policy you are concerned with. If you have an issue with policies affecting the Aboriginal community, you should contact the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development. If you are concerned about refugee and immigration policies, you could contact the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. Your issue directs you to contact the best government official.

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A man looking at a smartphone screen

Using Social Media

Social media is here to stay.

The use of social media in Canada today shows a powerful trend among the population. People of all ages are increasingly using social media daily.

In 2012, according to 6S Marketing:

  • 80% of Canadians (27.4 million people) were connected to the Internet
  • 64% of Canadians had a social network profile
  • 79% of Canadians did not leave home without their mobile device

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Demonstration / march

Organizing a Demonstration

Demonstrations can be an effective visible statement of support for a cause. They can increase public awareness or public support for the issue, and they can send a clear and strong message to decision makers.

Before the Demonstration

  • Advertise to any organizations and individuals that would be

    interested in participating to ensure that there will be a large turnout.

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TV interview

Working with the Media

Working with the media is an important component to any advocacy strategy.  It can increase public awareness and can also catch the attention of elected officials.   You may find yourself engaging with the media through writing press releases and letters to the editor, or by offering information to a journalist.  The media may also contact you for an interview.  It’s important to know how to approach the media and how to get your voice heard through newspapers, television, and the radio.

Approaching the media

  • You should approach newspapers first because TV and radio journalists often get their stories from the newspaper.  They are also able to go more in-depth on a topic.

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Formulating Objectives

After researching your concern, you will be able to define clear objectives for your advocacy work. Your research will help you choose both your direction and targets.

  • Direction: Your direction is the concern you decide to focus on. There are many different issues, so your research will help you narrow down your interests.
  • Targets: After you have a clear direction, the next step involves making short-term and long-term goals (or targets). Formulating these targets is an important early step. This will bring meaning and consistency for you and your group.

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Meeting with civil servants

Meeting with civil servants

Civil servants are an important part of the policy process.  They play a key role in preparing options beforehand. Once legislation is passed, it is up to the appropriate department to implement these changes.  

There are several reasons to contact a civil servant.  The department may delay the implementation of important legislation.  You may also have concerns about the way in which the legislation is implemented.  In these cases, it may be helpful to contact a civil servant who can put the legislation into action in the desired way.

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Choices

Choosing Tactics

Figuring out what to do about a particular issue can be the most challenging—and important—part of a campaign. The most effective advocacy strategy uses a diversity of methods—or tactics. The tactics you choose will depend on the issue and the political context.  The following chart will help you decide your tactics for action.

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