1514 Docteur-Penfield Avenue Mailing address: PO Box 42071 CSP H2W 2T3
Mailing address: PO Box 42071 CSP H2W 2T3
H2W 2T3
name:sector-key:Non-Profit or Non Governmental


Apathy is Boring

April 18, 2019 Scott Fletcher, Participedia Team
January 1, 2019 Scott Fletcher, Participedia Team
September 30, 2017 tmahoney
1514 Docteur-Penfield Avenue Mailing address: PO Box 42071 CSP H2W 2T3
Mailing address: PO Box 42071 CSP H2W 2T3
H2W 2T3
name:sector-key:Non-Profit or Non Governmental

A Canadian non-profit organization that uses art and technology to engage and inform youth in democratic practices. The organization seeks to increase youth voter turnout and to encourage more dialogue between elected officials and young constituents.

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Mission and Purpose

Apathy is Boring is a national, non-partisan, charitable organization that was established in 2004 and based in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Its mission is to use art and technology to educate youth about democracy. More specifically the organization seeks to increase youth voter turnout, increase youth engagement in their communities, and to promote dialogue between youth and elected officials.

Alongside its year-round activities, the organization conducts youth mobilization campaigns during federal, provincial, and municipal elections. The organization has several unique characteristics. Its work targets youth between the ages of 18 and 35 – those who are eligible to vote, but are no longer at school and less likely to live with a parent. Apathy is Boring also focuses its efforts on youth who are not currently engaged in the democratic process, be it as voters or by other means. This distinguishes its work from other organizations that work through schools or focus exclusively on young leaders. The organization relies heavily on research from the social sciences to inform the structure of its programs, and also conducts its own research (Bastedo, et. al., 2012). In the past, Apathy is Boring has conducted studies on behalf of Elections Canada looking at electoral accessibility as well as youth (Dougherty and Smith, 2008; Rudny et al., 2011).

Origins and Development 

Apathy is Boring began in January 2004 when founders, Ilona Dougherty, Paul Shore, and Mackenzie Duncan saw that many of their peers felt disengaged from the political process. When the 2004 Canadian Federal Election was called, work began on what would be A is B’s first federal “Get out the Youth Vote” campaign. Using a website, digital media technology, concerts, and a media outreach campaign, A is B was able to reach over 500,000 young people in Canada in less than four months. Following this successful campaign, the founders of A is B began to build their vision into an organization which included local events such as “The Civic Duty Concerts” in Montreal which featured acclaimed Canadian artists such as Euphrates, K'naan, Tumi and the Volume, Taima and Chris Brown and Kate Fenner. A Is B has continued with its mission by organizing concerts and events, creating a clothing line, making public service announcements that were shown in theatres.

Organizational Structure, Membership, and Funding

A is B has grown to have a full-time staff, with several interns each year, an active board of directors, a substantial amount of young supporters, and many active volunteers. In addition, they have developed an online presence on external networking sites that attracts several new as well as active A is B supporters.

Apathy is Boring receives funding from the following revenue streams:

  • Foundations and government grants
  • Donations
  • Consulting revenue
  • Workshops and presentations
  • In 2008, Her Excellency, the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, Governor General of Canada, became A is B’s organizational patron.

Specializations, Methods and Tools

Apathy is Boring employs a number of different participatory methods and tools to engage youth. While many of their programmes are focussed on civic education and community organizing, some methods are specific to the goal of each project:

  • Get Involved Program: Encourages youth to get involved in their communities and democracy through creative projects such as concerts and participatory art, as well as partnerships with local organizations. AisB also performs audits to help organizations improve their efforts to involve youth.
  • Voting Program: Works to increase youth voter turnout rates through information and mobilization campaigns in federal, provincial and municipal elections. They also conduct research projects which focuses on improving youth mobilization tactics.
  • Youth-Friendly Program: Gives civil society and government the concrete tools they need to engage youth in decision-making, through workshops, organizational audits and other resources to support organizations as they reach out to and engage young people aged 18-30 in decision making.
  • Workshops and presentations: Conducts a variety of educational workshops targeted at both youth and those who want to work with youth. The workshops cover a range of topics based on outreach to youth.

AisB also makes use of information and communication technology to get in touch with and involve youth and those interested in working with younger demographics. Uses of ICT include a website; social media profiles; a mobilization campaign using the Twitter hashtag "#5MMV"; Citizen Factory and which offer a wide variety of informational resources; and the website which is co-managed with the Department of Canadian Heritage. 

Major Projects and Events

  • In 2005, A is B launched in partnership with the Department of Canadian Heritage to offer youth friendly workshops for “adult” organizations who want to better engage youth in their work.
  • In the fall 2007, A is B testified in front of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Procedures and House Affairs about changes to the Elections Act.
  • In 2008, A is B completed its concert series “Every Party Should Be Democratic” in conjunction with its third Canadian federal election outreach campaign. In addition to two Youth Dialogues with the Governor General of Canada, A is B co-produced a series of four concerts, featuring well-known Canadian artists Hedley, ill Scarlett, Theo Tams, K'naan, and Jully Black, among others. A is B also produced a PSA that aired on MuchMusic Television, advertised in free weeklies in every major Canadian city, and undertook an online campaign “Democracy is More than Voting”, urging youth to make an informed decision in the fall 2008 Canadian federal election.
  • The 150 Years Young (2016-17): 150 YY project brought together community partners and 12 City Ambassadors (representing Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Edmonton and Vancouver) to tell stories about youth in Canada through creative installations and dialogue - both online and offline.
  • #5MMV Canadian Federal Election Campaign (2015): The #5MMV campaign was online/offline campaign to engage young people in the 2015 Canadian federal election. Street Teams attended concerts from coast to coast, handing out election resources and answering questions their peers had about when, where and how to vote.
  • Youth-Friendly Audits: Provides in-depth analysis of an organization’s youth engagement practices and offers concrete next steps to improve and build on current practices. Youth-Friendly Audit clients included the Canadian Red Cross, the National Association of Friendship Centres (NAFC) and several municipalities in Ontario.
  • Provides youth with information, "how-to's", and support to get involved in democracy.
  • Citizen Factory: Online resource for Canadian youth that aggregates Parliamentary information and condenses it, making it easier for youth to understand how the Canadian Government works. Citizen Factory also includes resources for teachers to help engage youth in Canada’s democratic process, including a set of lesson plans that are structured to help bring the online content of Citizen Factory into the classroom.

Analysis and Lessons Learned 

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2013-2014 Annual Report:

See Also

Participatory Arts 

Civic Education

Community Organizing


Bastedo, H., Dougherty, I., LeDuc, L., Rudny, B., & Sommers, T. (2012). Youth, Democracy and Civic Engagement: The ‘Apathy is Boring’ Surveys. In annual meeting of the Canadian Political Science Association, Edmonton.

Dougherty, Ilona and Adrienne Smith. (2008). Implementation of the Identification Requirements in the Canadian North. Montreal: Apathy is Boring.

Rudny, Bernard, Ilona Dougherty, André Blais, Delia Dumitrescu and Peter Loewen. (2011). Youth Engagement and Mobilization in the 2010 Toronto Municipal Election. Ottawa: Elections Canada.


External Links


Lead image: Alliance 150