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Five projects inspiring CIRA’s staff through CIRA’s Community Investment Program

CIRA recently announced the latest recipients of our Community Investment Program grants. We asked our staff: what project inspires you?
By Erica Howes
Communications Specialist

CIRA recently announced the latest recipients of our Community Investment Program grants. We asked our staff: what project inspires you?

In my first week working at CIRA, I’ve met some dedicated people motivated every day by CIRA’s goal to build a better online Canada. Looking through this year’s recipients of the Community Investment Program, CIRA’s annual granting program, I can see why.

I don’t come from a tech background but I do understand the power of the internet. CIRA’s Community Investment Program supports organizations across Canada who are doing good work for and through the internet. Now in its fifth year of the program, CIRA has supported 130 innovative projects across Canada for a total of $5.45 million.

We asked our CIRA staff to pick their favourite 2018 project and tell us why it personally stood out for them. 

What project inspires you the most?

Being a visible minority, I know the importance of digital literacy for our black youth. Growing up, I was the only visible minority in my university computer science classes and throughout my career in software research and development. Black Boys Code helps introduce black youth to the possibilities of having a career in this sector. This project brought a smile to my face and happiness in my heart. It will help close the inequality gap by helping to develop foundational skills in digital literacy and provide growth opportunities and knowledge empowerment to young people.

Sharon Ziai, project manager, CIRA

I used to work at a grocery store, and have seen firsthand the amount of surplus food that goes to waste. It hurts to see perfectly good food thrown out when you know there are hungry people out there. Projects that use technology to redirect that food in an efficient way, like Cowichan Green Community are doing a great service in their communities.

Erin Hutchison, content marketing and social media specialist, CIRA

I am chair of CIRA’s Green Team which is all about incorporating environmentally friendly practices into our organization.  With my interest in environmental initiatives, I have worked with watershed projects in Atlantic Canada and have seen the disconnect between communities and their watersheds and the lack of accessible national data. High levels of phosphorus can leave rivers and lakes inhabitable and the Water Rangers project will develop an affordable and accessible way for Canadians to test water and share results. Accessibility leads to awareness, which leads to action so this is a great step in helping to understand and improve water systems across the country.

Katie Maione, product support representative, CIRA

An often under accounted facet of internet security is data as it passes across a variety of networks across the world. Bringing attention to how TLS protected data is affected by state or non-state interception of internet traffic allows users to be aware of their effective privacy while using the internet. Concordia University’s project called A global view of web tracking and TLS anomalies, will provide a global perspective on these problems, leading to actionable items for a more privacy-friendly internet environment for all.

Matt Larose, senior system administrator, CIRA


My grandfather was a drafting technician with the government and always interested in learning new technologies. Since he learned how to use the internet, we communicate regularly, exchange photos and messages and this has had a huge impact in making my family more connected. Being able to use the internet is more than getting a device, it’s learning how to use it effectively to feel part of a community. Gluu’s project Digital Coaches Network is about improving seniors’ mental health through digital literacy. From experience with my grandparents, I can see how this program will help reduce social isolation among seniors and help them thrive in a digital world.

Vanessa Manning, communications and events specialist, CIRA


These are only a few of the many projects CIRA is funding this year, all doing great things across Canada through the internet.


What project inspires you? Learn more at

About the author
Erica Howes

Erica works in corporate communications at CIRA. Her background is in writing and community relations in the non-profit sector. She is a graduate of Carleton University’s journalism program.