The History of Community Links

How it began:

Community Links is the result of a community development project called Challenge in Participation or CHiP which was sponsored by the Anglican Diocese of Nova Scotia, VON Nova Scotia and the Nova Scotia Hospice / Palliative Care Network between 1989 and 1992. During the consultation stage of the Nova Scotia Royal Commission on Health Care which reported in 1989, two Commissioners – the late Sharon Marshall, Provincial VON Executive Director, and Bishop Russell Hatton of the Anglican Diocese of NS and PEI – noticed the significant difference in the number and variety of seniors’ programs and services available in urban and rural areas. They submitted the CHiP proposal to Health Canada’s Seniors Independence Program and it was accepted.


CHiP worked with six isolated rural areas of Nova Scotia to provide support and encouragement as the residents, mostly senior volunteers, assessed the needs of older community members and people with disabilities. Volunteer programs were organized to meet some of these needs. Four full-time CHiP provincial staff and six part-time community coordinators assisted the local volunteers.

1992 A long-term goal of CHIP was to spread this community development approach of meeting seniors’ needs and priorities to other rural communities. A “Think Tank” (January 1992) of seniors from six rural communities, three of the original CHiP pilot areas and three interested areas, refined the original concept of “adopt-a-community” into the Community Links project. The “Think Tank” decided that the focus should be on “equal partnerships in which each community had something to share, there would be a mutual exchange which was valuable to each, bonds would be formed and a chain reaction set in motion”.

The Community Links project proposal was submitted to Heath Canada’s Seniors Independence Program in February 1992. Approval came through in June and a smooth transition between CHiP and Community Links took place September 1, 1992. Two provincial CHiP staff members continued with the new project as paid and volunteer staff. CHiP donated its materials, equipment and furniture and the new project stayed on in the Sunday School rooms of St Francis by the Lakes Anglican Church in Lower Sackville.

Since 1992 Community Links has evolved on several fronts:

How it is governed – In its early years Community Links included business sessions at all its meetings and workshops so that everyone who attended had a say as part of the Nucleus Group. During the mid-nineties when funding was less certain, member representatives from each of the counties in which there were members served on a Provincial Coordinating Committee which had a revolving letter to help keep in touch. Later, the Board of Directors was established to meet Charitable and Societies Act requirements. The current Board has representation from nine regions around the province. The Board has always tried to maintain geographical representation with a focus on rural seniors.

How it does its work

Projects: Community Links started as a project and continues to do much of its work as a charitable association sponsoring projects or co-sponsoring projects within partnerships. The projects have grown in scope: there are more organizations involved, they require additional staff and they are having significant impacts. Major projects have included:

1992-1995  Community Links Project
1995  New Horizons Community Action Workshops
1996- 2000  Community Health Partners Project
2000- 2002  Rural Volunteers Project – Phase 1
2001- 2002  Working Together to Prevent Falling Among Seniors – Phase 1
2002- 2010  Preventing Falls Together
2002– 2004  Rural Volunteers Project –Phase 2
2002- 2003  Developing Rural Seniors= Skills for Influencing Policy Project
2004-2005  Developing Seniors Skills for Influencing Policy on Transportation
2003-2007  Canada Volunteerism Initiative
2005-2008  Seniors Growing Seniors Skills
2006-2007  Seniors Influencing Health Public Policy
2007-2008  Attitude Makes a Difference
2009-2010  Atlantic Charities Learning Exchange
2009-2010  Seniors and Gambling Project Phase I
2009-2014  Mobility: Now You’re Going Places Workshops
2010-2011  Seniors and Gambling Phase II
2011-2012  Age Friendly Workplaces in the Non-Profit Sector
2012  Ageing Well Together: Population Health in Action Conference
2012-2014  Fitness Where We Are
2012-2015  Seniors and Gambling Project – Phase III
2013-2014  Vision Screening for Falls Prevention
2013-2015  Home Support Exercise Program

Partnerships / coalitions / networks:

1997-2002 Western (NS) Heart Health Partnership
1997  Community Health Promotion Network Atlantic
1998  Atlantic Seniors Health Promotion Network
2002  Health Promotion Clearinghouse (NS)
2002  Healthy Communities Partnership / Network
2003–2007  Canada Volunteerism Initiative – Local (NS) Network
2004-2010  Gerontology Association of Nova Scotia
2007  Community Transit –NS (NSCBTA)
2007  Health Promotion and Protection – Volunteerism
2009  Atlantic Canada Learning Exchange
2010  Community Sector Council – Newfoundland and Labrador
2011  Caregivers Nova Scotia
2011-2014  Ageing Well Together Coalitions

Current Partnerships: please see the Partners and Links Section of this website.

Affiliations: In 2008 Community Links became the Nova Scotia Division of
Canadian Pensioners Concerned (now known as the National Pensioners Federation). This affiliation entitled Community Links to join the Group of IX, the Seniors Advisory Council of Nova Scotia

Provincial Office and Regional Staff:

Services for member organizations and Community Links operations are provided through the Provincial Office. The level of staffing has varied from a combination of paid/volunteer to totally volunteer to part-time or full time depending on financial support. Currently there is a full-time Executive Director and four to five part-time and full time staff.  Three of these staff are Regional Coordinators who work from home offices in Caledonia, Antigonish and Victoria Mines. Much of the work of Community Links is accomplished through these staff and the Ageing Well Together Coalitions they support.:

  • Fundraise to support the association and its work and projects, e.g., preparing funding proposals, developing and maintaining working relationships with current and potential funders
  • provide an information clearinghouse, e.g., newsletters, information via phone / fax / mail / e-mail, materials and contacts for members, other community groups and organizations, all levels of government, and the general public
  • administer and assist projects, e.g., hiring project staff, project management, financial reporting, involvement in Steering Committees and their work, liaison with funders, networking with project partners
  • coordinate representing the interests of rural seniors, volunteers, member organizations and the voluntary sector in numerous consultations, forums, presentations, conferences, networks, coalitions, partnerships– locally, provincially and nationally
  • support the Board of Directors and committees
  • organize the Annual General Meeting
  • provide general administration functions. Again, in its early years, the members of Community Links were rural communities. The original member communities were represented by seniors’ clubs and initiatives in Long and Brier Islands, Mosher River, Advocate Harbour, Framboise, Johnstown, and Hants Shore. The 1st three listed were involved with CHiP. Over time, membership changed from communities to community-based organizations and in 2009 expanded to include individual members. These members include volunteer programs for seniors and others, seniors’ projects, seniors’ clubs and county councils, senior centres and drop-ins, community health boards and centres, primary health programs, community development associations, resource centres, support groups, outreach programs, community-based programs such as alternative transportation, auxiliaries, libraries, municipal recreation departments and provincial organizations.

Where the Provincial Office is located –
From its original location in Lower Sackville, Community Links moved in 1995 to share office space with Canadian Pensioners Concerned Nova Scotia. In 1998 Community Links moved to Dartmouth and was run from the home of the Executive Director. Since 2004, the Office has been located in the Sport Nova Scotia building at 5516 Spring Garden Road, Suite 305. All materials and files are now kept at this location.

Who the earlier leaders were:
Community Links has had the benefit of many experienced and committed volunteers providing leadership through the years. Among them have been the former Presidents of Community Links:

John Abram (Framboise) Ronald Gaudet (Westport) Jessie Miller (Moser River)
J Roland AuCoin (Cheticamp) Canon Sid Davies (Kentville) Prem Dhir (Truro)

Carol Welch (Brier Island) Carol Ward (Bridgetown) Barbara Carthew (Kingsburg) Terry Smith (Shelburne)

History of Community Links

Updated August 2014