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The Regional Diversity Roundtable Newsletter
October/November 2016
In this Issue:
 
  • Grant Writing
  • Community Consultations
  • Resource Corner
 
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A Thought From RDR...

Reflections on Community Engagement - Phase 3 of the Diversity and Inclusion Charter of Peel
         


I am
a person of colour, a new immigrant to Canada and a woman. I am one of the many intersectional identities that make up the very diverse population of Peel Region; a region comprising of new and established immigrants. We come from all over the world, with differences in physical appearances, religious beliefs, language, race, sexual orientation, opinions and thoughts, and these have shaped our relationships within our communities and with the broader society. Building a healthy and inclusive Peel region where everyone is welcome is our collective overriding goal. It is also RDR’s mission.

As I begin my third month of placement at RDR, I am reflecting on my experiences as part of this dynamic team working to foster greater inclusiveness and equity in Peel region. RDR is currently in its third phase of implementing the Diversity and Inclusion Charter of Peel - a living document that supports the implementation supporting legislations such as the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom, Canadian Multicultural Act and the Canadian Human Rights Act. Phases 1 & 2 of this initiative involved the creation of the Charter and the development of resources to assist organizations in assessing their diversity, equity and inclusion work, with an aim to celebrate successes as well as identify areas for improvement. Phase 3, in which I am involved, focuses on taking the Charter to the community. The objective of the phase is to translate the Charter into 10 ethnic languages spoken within the region and to build leadership capacity of community members to enable them to take on projects to create proactive measures and address existing challenges and barriers within their respective communities. A key component for success is building connections within and between communities by conducting meaningful community engagement. 12 communities were selected for the phase, 10 linguistic communities including Tamil, Spanish (from Latin America), Punjabi, Arab, Urdu, Hindi, Polish, Gujarati, Chinese and Tagalog, and 2 communities based on their unique challenges around race and ability: African-Caribbean community and People with accessibility needs community.

Why language as an organizing principle of the project? Communities are often defined based on either ethnic, cultural, and religious similarities or differences. As I engaged deeper with these communities, I have come to understand why RDR chose language as the instrument to disseminate the message of the Charter to diverse communities in Peel. Language is vital in understanding people’s thoughts and feelings. Translating the Charter into different languages signifies giving ownership of the Charter document to the communities. If the community can understand and relate to the words of the Charter then they can better engage and commit to the principles therein. Diversity exists within different language groups and is used in communication, language is a unifying factor of understanding various nuances of diversity. 

I have worked with communities in Africa and Europe prior to working with RDR so I thought engaging with these 12 communities would be an easy task. But then reality hit me when after two months of intense community outreach and consultations I realized that community engagement cannot succeed with a one-size-fits-all approach. I have learned that a mindset of a community, its perspectives, beliefs, sentiments and inclination often determine their level of engagement. This can either build or hinder the work of diversity, equity and inclusion. During the course of this project, I have attended consultations with just one community member present and also consultations with more than 30 participants. Thus, it is very important that particular issues within communities are identified and addressed effectively for ongoing engagement.

12 communities and 12 unique experiences! From the outset, some communities appeared united under one language and one culture. However, as we interacted with more community members we learned that significant differences exist in each group;  including socio-economic circumstances, immigration experiences, politics in home country, level of language proficiency, cultural practices etc. These differences can cause fragmentation and insular grouping within communities. It can also continue to influence and shape intra and inter relations within a community and with other communities respectively.

But coming out at the other end, there are some foundational lessons I have learned about meaningful community engagement:
  • It is very important to build trust with the community. Attending community events and having face-to-face relationships with community members helps to create rapport with the community and make engagement easier.
  • Going to the communities instead of expecting the communities to come to you. Many immigrants in Peel fall within the low income bracket. They work more than a normal 9-5 job to make ends meet. Hence, creating time for attending consultations can be a challenge. Going to their spaces to hold consultations has proved to be an effective strategy to get community members engaged.
  • Involvement of Community Champions is important. Community champions know their communities firsthand and are informed of the resources available within the communities. They are often ‘insiders’ and can make in-roads where as we might be viewed as ‘outsiders’ and have greater challenges in building relationships. Community champions are a necessary bridge between us service providers and the communities.  
  • Balancing divergent viewpoints within communities. As noted above, there is diversity within communities and the needs of members vary considerably. During consultations we encountered members fluent in official languages. At times, their individual official languages proficiency restricted their understanding of the need for translating the Charter to reach members of their communities who face official language barriers. This was evident when other community members expressed the importance of having the document translated into their first language and/or mother-tongue, as it makes the Charter more meaningful, relatable, and impactful both in understanding the concepts and issues and in implementing it in their lives and community. 
 
As we roll out the next stages of phase 3, I watch with excitement the pride in community members as they immerse themselves in this task, young and old, men and women, husbands and wives. I watch with admiration how generational difference in language custody plays out in communities in diaspora. I see first-hand the investments that some communities have made to ensure the preservation of their culture and handing down these cultures through language from one generation to another. The highlight for me has been seeing young people participating very actively in this process. It is heartwarming and a vivid reminder that the diversity within Peel region can live on in harmony for future generations.

Most importantly, I have felt in community members’ voices the longing that exists in all 12 communities to connect with each other - the need to understand other communities and enjoy inter-community integration. Intercultural interactions in a multicultural region are daily occurrences for all. These interactions will continue to increase in frequency and intensity. Hence, engaging in intercultural-dialogue and connections is not only pragmatic but it is also an ethical and moral imperative. Paving the way for communities to understand and work effectively with each other will help us build an inclusive region and society. 

Working with RDR and these diverse communities has opened my eyes to the rich potential of our region. The immense potential these differences bring need to be well harnessed and utilized. Language and its significant impact in communities should be celebrated and incorporated into diversity, equity, and inclusion work.
 
-Anna Ettah Worifah
RDR MSW placement student

 

RDR News

Grant Writing

 

 
It has been quite the busy grant writing season for RDR. In the past three months we have submitted four grant applications for projects that further diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives not only in organizations but also in our communities. While some are based in Peel Region, we have also written grants to scale-up RDR's work provincially and nationally. We hope to hear back on decisions in December.

While grant writing can be taxing and overwhelming, as the image above reflects, it can also push you to be innovative and collaborative with like minded agencies and people. We look forward to hearing the results of our applications and sharing with our subscribers. 
 

Find us in the Community!


RDR is committed to taking part in community events, conducting outreach, and supporting our partners. Come find us at the following events!

September 21
Diversity in Leadership World Cafe
Timeout
Peel Leadership Centre

September 22
Anti-Racist Directorate Meeting

October 24
Annual Parent and Community Meeting
PLASP Child Care Services

October 25
Community Meeting
Peel Newcomer Strategy Group

November 1
Guest Lecture
Western University, Women and Gender Studies Department

November 21
Guest Lecture
Humber College, School of Social and Community Services
 

Organizational Culture: A Sum of 'Unwritten Rules'?

The second learning component in our 3-part fall learning series Building an Inclusive Workplace unmasked and assessed unwritten rules in organizations and their influence on organizational culture. Hosted by Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board, 20 member organizations participated in the learning component, breaking down what organizational culture consists of and the way in which unwritten rules permeate it. They shared examples, experiences, and strategies for change.

Have you experienced unwritten rules in your workplace? What were they? How have you handled them as both an employee and senior leader? Share your insights with us!
 

Engaging Diverse Communities: Learnings from D&I Charter Phase 3

 
While the third learning component in our 3-part fall learning series is postponed for January, our last member meeting of the year highlighted phase 3 of the D&I Charter. The Project Lead, Amrita Kumar-Ratta, spoke to why language was chosen as an organizing principle of the project, the successes and challenges of engaging 12 diverse communities, and action items for the RDR membership to get involved in the project. The November meeting was hosted by both Peel Police and Peel Multicultural Council, and was attended by 25 people across 23 member organizations.
 

Save the Date - Tough Questions Cafe



 
Poverty in Peel: Is it Effectively Addressed for All? 

January 27, 2016 | 5:30pm-8:30pm | 7120 Hurontario St. Mississauga ON (Cafeteria)

 

Diversity & Inclusion Charter of Peel

Marketing, Communications and Evaluation Efforts Have Begun!

 

We wish to take this opportunity to highlight the team of dynamic evaluation, marketing and communications experts that have recently joined us to support the success of the D&I Charter Community Engagement and Leadership Initiative. 

 
 
 Eco-Ethonomics Inc. is a private sector consulting firm specializing in social innovation, social enterprise development, market analysis, sustainability and corporate social responsibility (visit our website at: www.ecoethonomic.ca). At Eco-Ethonomics, we are devoted to realizing a future economy that embeds new values and perpetuates collective affluence for all.  Through our consulting and coaching services, we are transforming the way non-profits, social enterprises, businesses, and governments think and succeed.  The Eco-Ethonomics team is enthralled to join RDR in empowering leadership and community mobilization to further Diversity, Equity and Inclusion across the diaspora of Peel Region.  Our aim will be to make sure the evaluation process promotes collective learning and impact, and propels the work forward!
 
Splash Effect is a Toronto-based digital marketing agency with a strong focus on content and design. We work with forward-thinking brands to craft imaginative solutions that make a splash. We’ve provided our expert creative, strategy, interactive, & marketing solutions to over 50+ clients across Canada and the USA. Splash Effect's long standing commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion is one of the many reasons we're ready to take on this project. Helping build values in a region where many of our friends and family reside is not just an exciting work opportunity but an exciting personal experience as well.
 
We are excited to have Eco-Ethonomics and Splash Effect join us at RDR as we work to build a more diverse, equitable and inclusive region!


Community Consultations

The last two months have been incredibly busy for the D&I Charter of Peel project team! We conducted our first round of 12 community consultations with the following ethno-linguistic communities in Peel:

  • Tamil
  • Arab
  • Latin-American
  • Punjabi
  • Urdu
  • Chinese
  • Tagalog/Filipino
  • Hindi
  • Gujarati
  • Polish

On November 1st,  we began the second round of consultations, during which we are engaging communities in collaborative translation of the D&I Charter of Peel! See the flyer below for more information about our consultation schedule. We have held eight consultations so far, and have four more to go!

For specific information on consultations for each community, click here.  

                       
 

We request all RDR partners and supporters to help us spread the word about Phase 3! Connect with Anam Ansari, our Community Outreach Coordinator for specific information about our Community Champions Dialogues and our Community Consultations! Encourage your communities to get involved! 

Community Champions

Community Champions are an integral component of Phase 3 of the D&I Charter Initiative. As members of diverse and multilingual communities, their role is to guide the project team in addition to serving as grassroots connectors to ensure that the project consistently remains locally relevant.

In the last two months, we have been developing relationships with our existing Champions as well as reaching out to more people to get involved in this part of the project! We currently have 24 dynamic people acting as Community Champions. We will be profiling them in the coming weeks on our website. Stay tuned to learn more about these incredible community members!

We continue to look for committed diversity, equity and inclusion advocates from diverse communities! See our call for Champions here. Connect with our Community Outreach Coordinator, Anam Ansari, for more information about becoming a Community Champion. 

Practice Briefs

The D&I Charter team has released three new practice briefs which are available on our website.  These are one-pagers that define and contextualize key issues and provide 'how to' tips and suggestions around the Charter's 12 commitments as well as its 3 priority areas. 

Click on the links below to access our three newest practice briefs!

Series 1.4: Dedicating Resources, Including People, Time and/or Money, to Equity and Inclusion

Series 1.5: Enabling Full Participation and Engagement of All Through Equitable Access to Information, Services, Opportunities

Series 1.6: Providing Ongoing Learning that Facilitates Equity and Inclusion at Individual, Organizational and Community Levels

For more information about taking action on and implementing the D&I Charter in your organization, community or neighbourhood, contact our Project Lead, Amrita Kumar-Ratta

Call for Writers - Insights, the D&I Charter's Community Blog

We are looking for writers for our website! Are you interested in contributing to Insights - the D&I Charter of Peel's community blog? We are seeking individuals interested in writing 500-700 word reflective pieces around issues of diversity, equity and inclusion and its connections to the Charter in Peel Region. For more information, please contact the D&I Charter Project Lead Amrita Kumar-Ratta.

Resource Corner

Report - The State of Homelessness in Canada 2016
November 2016, the homeless hub


 
Report - Tired of the Hustle: Youth Voices on Unemployment
November 2016, St. Stephen's Community House and Access Alliance Multicultural Health and Community Services


 
Report - Divided City: Life in Canada's Child Poverty Capital, 2016 Toronto Child and Family Poverty Report Card
November 2016, Social Planning Council Toronto


 
Report - We Rise Together - PDSB Action Plan to Support Black Male Students
October 2016, Peel District School Board
 
Report - Race Data and Traffic Stops in Ottawa, 2013-2014: A Report on Ottawa and the Police Districts
October 2016, York Research team submitted to Ottawa Police Services Board and Ottawa Police Service
 
Report - A Policymaker's Guide to Basic Income

Report - Basic Income: Rethinking Social Policy

Report - The Best and Worse Places to be a Woman in Canada 2016

October 2016, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
 
Report - 'Basic Income' or 'Bait and Switch'?
October 2016, Caledon Institute of Social Policy

 
Report - Trans Youth and the Right to Access Public Washrooms: A Critical Perspective on a Social Policy
October 2016, YouthREX
 
Report - Measuring Up 2016
October 2016, Health Quality Ontario
 
Report - Women in the Workplace
October 2016, LeanIn.org & McKinsey & Company




 
Policy - Policy on ableism and discrimination based on disability

Policy - Policy on drug and alcohol testing 2016

September 2016, Ontario Human Rights Commission
 
Podcast - The Angel Complex
October 2016, Colour Code: A Podcast about Race in Canada
 
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