New Provincial Network | Building Compassionate Systems Capacity in British Columbia

By Joanne Schroeder

“A seed today is a forest tomorrow”

The seeds of compassionate systems have been widely sown in the province of British Columbia (BC), Canada.  In the last few years, over 200 individuals have experienced the introductory training session offered by the Center for Systems Awareness.  Seven people are now certified as Master Practitioners, and six more are currently completing the training.  With this, the groundwork has been laid to deepen the impact across the provincial education system.

The BC Ministry of Education and Child Care has recently partnered with the Human Early Learning Partnership at the University of BC to develop a new network, with the goal to continue to build the capacity for compassionate systems province-wide. While the development thus far has been appropriately “organic”, it is recognized that a more coherent, coordinated made-in-BC approach is needed to leverage the diverse energy and activities towards the envisioned systemic transformation. 

In addition, as the components of the compassionate systems approach have been developed outside of BC, there is work to be done to explore the value for communities within the province.  Specifically, there has not been a fulsome opportunity to dialogue and learn from First Nations partners as to how aspects of the approach might “walk alongside” traditional ways of knowing and being. Initially, the network is focusing on three areas:


A key purpose of the network is to strengthen existing relationships within and among individuals and organizations connected to the BC work thus far, and to continually expand these relationships. Development of an infrastructure to coordinate all Compassionate Systems Leadership activities in B.C. is creating basic connecting mechanisms. For example, an up-to-date contact database and regular newsletters and bulletins. New partnerships in the initiative are being built with a particular focus on First Nations, Inuit and Metis organizations, classroom teachers and early childhood educators.


The network intends to expand the reach of compassionate systems training, including both introductory and more advanced capacities. The network is identifying a cadre of BC based trained facilitators who will be available to provide training sessions across the system. A bi-weekly Community of Practice is open to all, providing a chance to start the day with a grounding and check in with peers from throughout BC. Over the next few months, each of the sixty school districts in BC will be supported to develop a training plan that aligns with the unique needs of their community and students. 


The third focus is on the creation and adaptation of compassionate systems tools and resources for the BC context with the intent to increase the accessibility and reach of the practice. These will be available through updated publications and online. The existing Compassionate Systems Leadership website will be updated regularly and the project will be integrated with the broader ERASE (Expect Respect and a Safe Education) initiative of the BC government.

In BC we look to our forests for a sense of beauty, endurability, adaptability and strength.
These are the qualities we seek to grow in the BC network.

For more information on the BC Network for Compassionate Systems Leadership in Education,
contact Network Director, Joanne Schroeder.

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