Everything Bissell Centre does is grounded in its vision of eliminating poverty.

Our Mission

Working with communities, we empower people to move from poverty to cultural, social and economic prosperity.

A Community Without Poverty

Our commitment is to end poverty in our community. Impossible? Can’t be done? These are the same things that were said to Edison and the Wright brothers. Where would we be today if they believed those things could not be accomplished? When we believe something is impossible, we act as if that is true and as a result, we make it true—it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

However, if we believe something is possible, we begin to take actions that align with that belief, and that’s when interesting things begin to happen—just ask the 6,000 people that have found homes in Edmonton through the 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness.

How will we know when we have succeeded in eliminating poverty? What exactly does a poverty free community look like? Bissell Centre believes a community without poverty will see:

  • Families and individuals have sustainable livelihoods, secure housing, and can meet their basic daily needs.
  • Families and individuals are fully engaged in their community because of strong support networks, a sense of safety, and improved physical and mental health.
  • Families and individuals have hope for the future.
  • Individuals have access to the resources and opportunities they need to reach their full potential and participate equally within in the community.
  • Diversity is celebrated in a spirit of mutual respect and dignity.

“I would not be where I am today without Bissell Centre and all the support.”
—Davina, Bissell Participant

The Framework That Guides Us




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Our Strategy

Bissell Centre follows six strategies that provide a clear path to enhance and expand our poverty elimination efforts. The first three strategies address our programs, services and advocacy efforts—what we do—and ensure that everything we do directly supports our mission and vision. The other three strategies refer to how we do what we do, and are focused on ensuring Bissell Centre achieves the highest standards of operational excellence.

Although we are working towards a day where Bissell Centre is no longer required, the elimination of poverty in our community will be realized more quickly if our efforts are coordinated by a robust organization.

Our Approach

  1. Bissell Centre will empower families and individuals to move out of poverty by:
    • Increased involvement in, and advocacy for, appropriate and accessible housing options and supports
    • A continued commitment to providing supports that address system gaps and barriers
    • Enhanced alignment and collaboration with partners to increase effectiveness of supports
  2. Bissell Centre will engage in impactful community and economic development initiatives by:
    • Collaborative engagement with local neighbourhoods and stakeholders
    • Development of social enterprises and other community based initiatives
  3. Bissell Centre will influence systemic and societal change by:
    • Ensuring the voices of people with lived experiences are heard in a meaningful, empowering manner
    • Building an organizational culture of learning and reflection, and a commitment to evidence based practice
    • Educating and raising awareness about the issues and complexities of poverty and inviting the community to actively engage in the elimination of poverty
    • Engaging with government and other institutions to influence policy and practices to best enable families and individuals to move out of poverty

Our Method

  1. Bissell Centre will engage in resource development to ensure its sustainability and to support the growth required to meet its vision and mission:
    • Raising funds to benefit the people we serve
    • Raising awareness about Bissell Centre and the impact of its work in the community
    • Ensuring that donors have positive experiences investing in our work
  2. Bissell Centre will establish itself as an employer of choice in Edmonton through:
    • Embedding a culture of employee engagement, celebration and empowerment
    • Establishing clear and consistent internal communications systems
    • Ensuring equal opportunity for all employees
    • Ensuring all employees understand their role and their relevance to advancing our mission and vision
    • Providing meaningful opportunities for professional development
    • Ensuring a balance of support and accountability
    • Providing competitive compensation for Bissell Centre staff
  3. Bissell Centre will develop a strategy for sustained growth through:
    • Long-term planning for effective risk management, infrastructure and administrative capacity required to achieve our mission strategies
    • Continued commitment to governance excellence

It’s about the whole community participating together to end poverty.

—Bissell Centre Staff

Our Values

Our values are reflected in all aspects of our work and within the culture of Bissell Centre. They are our commitment to ensuring our participants and our employees are involved with an organization that puts people first.


To recognize the value and dignity of all people including their values, rights, beliefs and property.


To commit to working with others to increase effectiveness and efficiency.


To create an environment where all feel welcome.


To base all actions on the principles of honesty and trustworthiness.


To genuinely care about the wellbeing of others in a non-judgmental manner that is motivated by a desire to help.


To be good stewards and accept responsibility for our actions and decisions as individuals and as an organization.


To accept and respect everyone, recognizing and celebrating our individual differences and understanding that each person is unique.


To respect people’s capacity and ability to determine the direction of their lives and to help them remove barriers and reach toward their goals.

It’s great that these services are available to us and staff is knowledgeable and friendly.

—Bissell Participant

Our Key Practice Philosophies

The work of Bissell Centre is underscored by the following key philosophies. These represent not only the leading practices of the human services sector, but are a commitment to ensuring our participants are served by accessible, evidence-based, and culturally appropriate programs. Our key practice philosophies are:

Cultural Competence and Representation

Bissell Centre will seek to be knowledgeable about and representative of the communities and cultures within which it serves.

Trauma Informed Practice

Bissell Centre acknowledges that trauma is pervasive among its participants. Trauma includes a variety of experiences that overwhelm an individual’s ability to cope. It can be the result of a single incident or repetitive events and may be developmental, intergenerational and historical. Bissell Centre will provide services in a manner that is consistent with the principles of trauma-informed practice including safety, trust, choice and control, and compassion.1

Harm Reduction

Harm reduction aims to keep people safe and minimize death, disease, and injury from high risk behaviour, especially psychoactive substance use. Harm reduction recognizes that high risk behavior may continue despite individual knowledge about risks.2

A harm reduction approach involves a range of support services and strategies to enhance the knowledge, skills, resources, and supports for individuals, families and communities to be safer and healthier. Bissell Centre will practice harm reduction in a manner that is consistent with the diverse demographic it serves.

Anti-Oppressive Practice

Families and individuals are often trapped in poverty due to systemic and social structures that place them at a disadvantage. Bissell Centre will be sensitive to the social and systemic imbalances experienced by its participants and will promote equality in our interactions.

Client Centred Services

Bissell Centre will always strive to put the family or individual at the centre of all that it does. This means the people we support will determine the appropriate path forward for themselves and as we support them to achieve their goals, we will consider their needs and strengths holistically.

Strength Based Approach

All communities, families, and individuals have strengths and assets from which they can draw to move out of poverty. In addition to removing barriers to prosperity and equality, Bissell Centre will seek to affirm and apply people’s strengths and assets through their supports.

Restorative Justice

In many ways, our justice system has been built on the principles of punitive consequences—one must “pay their debt to society.” This approach can ignore the victim and the larger affected community as the sole focus is on the one who caused harm. Restorative justice strives to consider the wellbeing of the victim, and the larger community, repairing harm and ideally restoring relationships and wellbeing for all parties. Bissell Centre will support the families and individuals it serves in a manner consistent with the values of restorative justice.

Evidence based practice

Decisions about how to support people in poverty are often based on people’s beliefs, values and best guesses. Evidence based practice acknowledges the deficiencies this can create in providing effective supports for families and individuals. Rather, it carefully considers a range of information based on robust research and analysis, participant feedback, and demonstrated outcomes.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Informed Practice

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is a disorder that develops when alcohol passes into a fetus’ blood stream in utero. FASD affects 1% of the population and each person affected presents differently. Bissell Centre will be informed as to the nature of FASD and will try to help individuals with FASD successfully integrate into the community.

1. http://trauma-informed.ca/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Trauma-informed_Toolkit.pdf, accessed February 16, 2017
2. https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/healthlinkbc-files/substance-use-harm-reduction, accessed January 25, 2017

“The staff just opened their arms to us and brought us in. That’s when I started feeling welcome and accepted in our community.”
Corenda, Mother of Five

Toward a Poverty-Free Community

Our Strategic Framework [PDF] guides Bissell Centre’s efforts to address the inequities present in our society and ensure that every Edmontonian has an equal opportunity to thrive, prosper and contribute to their community.

It is underscored by clear strategies that support our vision of a city without poverty, and is grounded in the experiences and stories of the people we serve.

But we cannot accomplish our vision of a Poverty-Free Community alone; the elimination of poverty cannot be accomplished by a single individual or group—it will take a commitment from the entire community.

We invite you to join us in our mission to empower people to move from poverty to cultural, social and economic prosperity.


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