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The Building Capacity Project is a cross-Canada partnership between researchers at the University of British Columbia and Lakehead University, and members of the Westside Seniors Hub in Vancouver and the North West Dementia Working Group in Thunder Bay. This four-year project is one of the first to launch under the Public Health Agency of Canada and its new, federally funded Dementia Community Investment strategy.

At its core, the "Building Capacity Project" aims to enable people living with dementia to participate in community life as full social citizens. The team uses a bottom-up, asset-based community development (ABDC) approach to support the growth of innovative community initiatives that will foster inclusion and reduce stigma by creating meaningful opportunities for people with dementia to remain active and socially connected. 

While the project engages two distinct communities in BC and Ontario, together these communities unite under


Implementing an ABCD approach to adapt and create community programs and services that are meaningful and inclusive for people with dementia.
Conducting a developmental evaluation that will allow the team to learn how to best support the growth and integration of programs and services that are meaningful and inclusive for people with dementia.
Disseminating learnings to increase awareness and to support communities and their efforts to create opportunities for meaningful participation by people with dementia. 

The Building Capacity Project is not about community organizations developing a whole new set of separate programs and services for people with dementia. Rather, it is about figuring out a sustainable process for adapting and creating meaningful programs and services that are inclusive for people with dementia. We want more people with dementia to be active and participating in their community in a variety of ways, but more importantly, we want increased capacity in our communities so this kind of active participation can continue to grow and flourish. 


Person with Lived Experience 

Myrna lives in Maple Ridge, BC. After she was diagnosed in 2009 with Frontal Temporal Dementia, feeling total and absolute despair, her daughter Sherry explained to her, ‘It is what it is’. At that moment, Myrna decided to become educated in neuro-cognitive disorders, and to become an advocate.  

Myrna’s advocacy is far reaching as she speaks on the topic with the Purple Angel Ambassadors, the Alzheimer’s Society of BC, various churches, and staff and residents of retirement and long term care homes. She recently also attended the Dementia Strategy Conference in Ottawa.   

Speaking from personal experience from diagnosis, appointments, tests, appointments, and more tests, opened Myrna’s eyes on the vast issues within the current care systems. Her belief is that we can all do so much more for our complete community of neuro-cognitive disorders, and it drives her to ensure that the therapies, education, long and short term care practices by staff are all well versed and aligned in the care required, and that offer answers and paths to a fruitful life.

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This bouquet of fireweed and forget me not flowers has been chosen as a symbol for the Building Capacity Project. The WSH has selected the fireweed as a wildflower that symbolizes resilience, while the forget-me-not flower is a symbol of dementia, as used in the NWDWG logo. Together, they symbolize the collective action by the NWDWG and WSH as they come together for the Building Capacity Project.

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