Alternatives' mission is to create a world where international solidarity, environmental rights, democratic rights and human dignity are universally respected.
Alternatives knows that a world of such societies is possible. We know this because we have already seen so much progress since our founding in 1994, thanks to dozens of projects and campaigns with allies in numerous social movements, over a thousand interns, countless volunteers and a dedicated and caring staff, all of whom are determined to see our mission succeed.
We will thus continue to work for a world in which:
- Women, men and children live in dignity and respect, and equitably share the power and resources they need to live and thrive.
- The diversity of peoples and individuals is respected, as well as their human, civil, economic, social, and cultural rights.
- Solidarity, cooperation, respect for the environment, participatory democracy and peace are truly valued.
- Sustainable, just and democratic social and economic development takes place at local, national and global levels.
With each new project, each new campaign and every new intern or volunteer, we become more and more convinced that citizen action can achieve such a society. That is what we call solidarity in action!
Alternatives in Montréal is a member of the Alternatives International Federation, the International Council of the World Social Forum, the Association for Progressive Communications, the Association québécoise des organismes de coopération internationale, Concertation pour Haïti, Food Secure Canada, Trade Justice Network, the Quebec Network on Continental Integration, the Coalition for Justice and Peace in Palestine, the coalitions Pas de démocratie sans voix! and Voices-Voix, of Mouvement vigilance énergie, the Coalition for Food Sovereignty,the Réseau québécois des groupes écologistes and the Regroupement des jardins collectifs du Québec.
Alternatives benefits from the support of many public figures from diverse backgrounds, including: Margaret Atwood, Gil Courtemanche, Judy Rebick, Ariane Émond, and Stanley Péan from the culture and information realm, Françoise David, and Amir Khadir of the social realm and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Asma Jahangir, and Noam Chomsky from the international arena.
current global economic and environmental crisis continues to affect more communities, the need for sustainable alternatives is growing; alternatives to war, to injustice, to poverty and to exclusion. Thus, we can see that the work we started in 1994 is as urgent and relevant as ever.
Alternatives was founded in 1994 by a coalition of non-profits working towards social justice. The organizations came together to find new ways to transform the communities in which we live through innovation.
Innovating and Transforming
In Canada and abroad, Alternatives’ programs leverage and reinforce the work of the local men and women in the communities where they take place. Our partnerships create networks of social movements who can develop shared solutions to shared problems and open new avenues for action by ensuring that social progress, respect and justice are at the core of our communities.
In over 35 countries throughout Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and Asia, our activities strengthen the economic, social and political rights of communities affected by poverty, discrimination, exploitation and violence.
Alternatives and its allies concentrate their efforts and resources on developing economic and social alternatives. Our work falls under the following sectors: Community economic development and job creation, environmental protection, climate justice and human rights protection, sustainable agriculture (rural and urban), inclusiveness and human dignity, participatory democracy and citizen engagement, communications for social change, good governance and social justice, peace building and conflict resolution and professional and social integration of new immigrants.
For more details, please consult our Projects page.
Each year, dozens of local youth participate in Alternatives' overseas internships, which are a way for Alternatives to help awaken a sense of solidarity and engagement in youth. By focusing on honing the skills of the young women and men here in Canada, the internships emphasize social action by spreading the message of social justice that drives Alternatives.
For more information, please visit our Internships page.
Alternatives helps educate and shape public debate. Alternatives' French bulletin, “Le journal des alternatives” and the English version, "Alternatives International Journal," have become well-visited sites for information and analysis of current events and issues. Both publications are also distributed monthly to thousands. By providing national, international and cultural analysis to its readers, Alternatives' electronic media and other print documents are a source for independent perspectives on the global challenges of today and tomorrow.
Since 1994, Alternatives has hosted a weekend event each summer. The event gathers over 500 participants, including international guests, to discuss and debate perspectives on international solidarity and action. Alternatives is also a hub for the thousands of people who participate in the biannual World Social Forum and its many national, regional and thematic spin-offs. Active and engaged, Alternatives brings citizens and movements together.
Today, Alternatives is adapting to new realities.
With our international partners we have created the Alternatives
International network, uniting non-profits from Brazil, Palestine, Israel,
South Africa, Niger, Morocco, India and France. Together, we are better
positioned to effectively respond to growing social challenges.
Alternatives has become a community of communities. More than a charity organization, Alternatives is a movement and a network. It is a dream, a vision, a space, from which social change emerges.
Hundreds of successful projects
We are proud of the hundreds of successful projects we have executed in over 30 countries since 1994. Our projects are always in solidarity with a local partner. This ensures that we don't impose our own vision of the best solutions from outside and that when we leave, we have transferred essential skills to ensure continued development. We have had the courage to take on projects under risky conditions, such as our work with civil society in Iraq since 2003 and our projects in the Democratic Republic of Congo and elsewhere. Alternatives' projects have always been practical and applicable because we want people to understand how common values such as protecting the environment, democracy, and human dignity can be put into practice and can provide positive results. To find out more please visit our Projects page.
First class internships
Many of our projects have been executed through our highly successful international internship program. Working in conjunction with the Department of International Relations of Quebec and other organizations and government bodies, we have sent over 1,000 interns overseas. Our interns learn about international solidarity and development, teach skills to others overseas and bring new skills and knowledge back to share with those at home. Our overseas internship programs provide a valuable model for other development organizations. For more information please visit our Internships page.
Taking a clear stand
We are proud of having had the courage to take a clear stand on sensitive issues, especially those that are given insufficient media attention. For example, we have unequivocally defended the right of Quebeckers, Canadians and future generations to a clean environment. Furthermore, we have always, and continue to speak up for marginalized people around the world who unnecessarily suffer great hardship and injustice. To find out more please see our Campaigns.
Creation of democratic spaces
Alternatives has always been at the forefront of creating spaces where progressive ideas can be openly discussed. For instance, we helped launch the movement of social forums, including the World Social Forum, regional forums such as the Quebec Social Forum in 2009, and local forums like the Alternatives Days, which we have held every year in August since 1994. Such democratic space has been widely expanded by the global justice movement, which recognizes corporate globalization as an ideology rather than a fact and is determined to promote healthy alternatives. We have always given that movement consistent and often critical support. For example, the 2001 People's Summit in Quebec City would not have been nearly as successful without the support of Alternatives.
Promotion of alternative media
Alternatives was amongst the first NGOs to produce its own media - the Journal des alternatives - back in 1994. Today most NGOs produce their own media, and recognize the importance of providing balance in a media landscape dominated by corporate news sources that consistently and consciously omit critical material about the state of the environment, genuine democracy, and social justice. We are proud of having helped to spearhead this change. We are also proud of the emphasis we have placed on creating and encouraging other independent media sources, such as the Centre for Media Alternatives of Quebec.
Connecting the global to the local
Today, most people make the easy connection between international events and local phenomena. However, when Alternatives had such discussions back in the mid-1990s, this connection wasn’t so obvious. Alternatives has always encouraged people to make the link between what’s happening overseas with what’s happening right here at home. It is this kind of global and compassionate thinking that underlies our slogan, solidarity in action!