Research is integral to making Montreal more inclusive, resilient and innovative

Support for CIRM part of McConnell’s broader city strategy

Last week, the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research on Montreal received new funding totaling $3.25 million, which will help in integrating research from diverse academic disciplines and contributing toward efforts to build a more inclusive, resilient and innovative city. McConnell was delighted to join BMO in this civic effort, its $1 million contribution being part of a wider strategy to ensure Canadian cities rise to the challenges of the 21st century, while offering a good quality of life to citizens from all socioeconomic backgrounds and cultures.

Jayne Engle, program director for McConnell’s Cities for People initiative said, “We know that research can be instrumental in helping understand how we can build a more innovative, inclusive and resilient Montreal. The gift also builds on McConnell’s eighty-year legacy of support to important projects in its home city and to McGill.”

The McConnell Foundation has made numerous grants to McGill, and has had a long history of affiliation with the university. McConnell’s founder, J.W. McConnell, sat on McGill’s Board of Governors from 1928 to 1958.

McConnell’s contribution to CIRM is dedicated to establishing the McConnell Foundation Visiting Professor of Practice in order to attract international-caliber researchers to the Centre, whose role will be to design projects that will both give Montreal students experience in the field, while having a positive impact on local organizations, associations or groups of citizens. While headquartered at McGill, CIRM is an inter-university collaborative with 40 members, representing the four major Montreal universities, each of whom carries out Montreal-specific research. (Find out more about CIRM through the Centre’s recently released video.)

McConnell and CIRM have already enjoyed several successful collaborations to this point, including as co-hosts of the ‘City as a Commons’ event series last year with Julian Agyeman (Cities for People Fellow), Tessy Britton (Participatory City), Rony Jalkh (Placemaking for Peacemaking) and Gorka Espiau (Young Foundation).

“We see cities as ‘systems of systems’—they encompass streets, buildings, public spaces, parks, libraries, residential spaces, institutions, social networks and economic activity. Better understanding how these systems operate and interact with each other can be a focal point of postsecondary research that can make a very concrete contribution to the city of Montreal, and to all cities — in Canada and overseas,” said Engle.

About Cities for People

Cities for People is an initiative that the McConnell Foundation launched in 2014 to support inclusive urban innovation that contributes to more resilient and livable cities for all people. Its core focus areas are on increasing social and economic equality in cities, better understanding the city as “a commons”, experimenting and exploring through “urban innovation labs” to create change, and building and supporting new collaborative infrastructure. To find out more, visit:

About postsecondary granting at McConnell

Almost all of the McConnell Foundation’s postsecondary activities are part of the Re-Code initiative. As Re-Code does not provide funding for academic research, our work with the CIRM falls outside Re-Code’s granting activities; it is however complementary to Re-Code’s focus on leveraging postsecondary assets to support community wellbeing.

To find out more about Re-Code, please visit the website: Download the most recent paper on Building Social Infrastructure here. Find out about Re-Code’s “lessons learned” here.