From Access to Engagement: Building a Digital Media Literacy Strategy for Canada

From Access to Engagement: Building a Digital Media Literacy Strategy for Canada

In February 2022, MediaSmarts – in partnership with Digital Public Square – hosted a symposium that brought together key stakeholders and community partners from across Canada who share an interest in developing and implementing a national digital media literacy strategy. This report summarizes the discussions that took place at the symposium along with key findings from an environmental scan of existing national and international digital media literacy strategies.

We also conducted interviews with key informants from Canada and international jurisdictions about their experiences working on digital and media literacy frameworks. This project confirms the need for a commitment from the federal government to support the development, implementation and evaluation of a national digital media literacy strategy through appropriate investments in the community and ongoing engagement that fosters collaboration and innovation.

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Foundational Commitments and Principles

A meaningful commitment to digital media literacy in Canada requires a collaborative and relational approach to strengthening digital citizenship and closing the digital divide. This requires long-term support of intentional efforts to address the social determinants of digital well-being along with other emerging issues. The foundational commitments and principles for a national digital media literacy strategy:

  • emphasize the importance of digital media literacy for everyone in Canada and acknowledge digital media literacy as a lifelong learning process;
  • help build a case for a national strategy that facilitates empowerment, creativity, critical thinking and problem-solving skills through universal access to education and training; and
  • emphasize a whole-of-society approach to digital media literacy that prioritizes community-based solutions to service provision, resource development, research and evaluation supported through sustained core funding.

Based on what we heard at the stakeholder symposium in February 2022, comments received in post-event surveys, information gathered through the environmental scan in phase one and MediaSmarts’ knowledge and expertise in the field, we have identified ten principles and commitments that can guide the development of a national digital media literacy strategy in Canada.

A national digital media literacy strategy in Canada must:

  • Ensure representation from communities and stakeholders across Canada.
  • Support equitable access to community-based programs.
  • Embrace lifelong learning
  • Promote digital citizenship and close the digital divide.
  • Prioritize safety and digital well-being.
  • Increase inclusion, accessibility and active participation of priority groups.
  • Foster better connections between different jurisdictions (regional, provincial, national and international).
  • Clearly outline the roles and responsibilities of the tech industry.
  • Include ongoing evaluation and adaptation to ensure transparency and accountability.
  • Have adequate and sustainable funding.


MediaSmarts developed this roadmap as an additional resource to help visualize the next steps required to develop, implement and evaluate a national digital media literacy strategy in Canada.

Roadmap diagram for Digital Media Literacy Strategy for Canada

A national strategy must continue to center the insights and experiences of those who work within communities across Canada and who understand the immediate and unique digital media literacy needs of the individuals and families who access their programs. The Community of Practice established through this project demonstrates an already expansive network of service providers and other partners who value and promote the key elements present within the foundational commitments and principles outlined in this report, like equity, inclusion, accessibility and digital well-being.  

A national strategy will provide experts, advocates and service providers in the digital media literacy field with a unified but flexible approach for preventing and responding to online harms through education and critical skills development. At the same time, people living in Canada will be empowered to use, understand, create and engage with digital technology and digital media, which is at the heart of active digital citizenship and innovation.  

If you are interested in connecting with us about this project or wish to join our Community of Practice, please send an email to

This project was made possible by the financial contributions from the Department of Canadian Heritage through the Digital Citizenship Contribution Program.