Community Dialogues in Action: Aligning cultural community voices with CMCCF allies and their initiatives

In January 2020 we held the first of many mutual learning events: an open dialogue with communities, service providers and policy makers, focused on conversations about core values. By identifying and exploring shared core values and acting on them, understanding and communications across cultural divides will improve.

Held at Daniel McIntyre Collegiate in Winnipeg, the event was co-facilitated by four cultural communities: Filipino, Ethiopian, South-Asian, Muslim and Nigerian. Representatives of the four communities identified the range of human service areas and examples of service providers and policy makers they wanted to invite through CMCCF. Mengistu Assefa, a Board member of the Coalition and Rashid Ahmed, a professor of nursing at the University of Manitoba and a member of CMCCF’s newly established Community Well-being Advisory Council, invited participants to contribute.

The four communities had been engaged in a year-long, five-element process facilitated by CMCCF of asset mapping. One of those five elements is core values. 

“Our objective is to start a number of deliberate conversations between communities, service providers and policy makers to develop approaches that are more responsive to diverse cultural community needs.” -Perla Javate, member of the Filipino community

In the first phase of the evening, participants were asked to reflect on a list of values generated by the Barrett Values Centre, as part of a Personal Values Assessment process. They chose three core values that most resonated with them.

Mihret Zewude, Excel Family & Youth, engages the audience in a discussion about values

Mihret Zewude, Excel Family & Youth, then asked participants: “What brings us to our core values? What’s important to us? Core values are who you are and who you want to become.” Zewude asked participants if the values they’d chosen were reflected in their current organization or community.

“The first box (Personal Values) is about who are you and what you value? The second box (Current Culture) is what you see currently in your community or organization. Do any of the words you selected in the first box show up in the second box? If not, you’re saying you are not living completely and fully in the community or organization you belong to.” -Martin Itzkow, Executive Director of the CMCCF

Participants then discussed how to align their actions to the chosen core values within their organizations or communities.

“Our cultural communities are interested in assisting diverse service providers understand [our] core cultural values so they can understand and learn from our cultural communities.” -Bereket Abebe Assefa, member of the Ethiopian community

Participants put the finishing touches on their model representing improved communications between cultural communities and service providers

In the second phase of the evening, Paul Ong from the Filipino community facilitated a fun learning exercise. He asked participants to build current and future value and action models representing the current state of relationships among service providers and community organizations.

Participants used LEGO® bricks to create these models. This unique 3-D engagement technique made it easy for everyone to see how core values are currently being lived and experienced by cultural communities in their relationships with service providers. It also gave people an opportunity to create models showing how they would like to see the core values being lived in the future. 

“One of the objectives of this learning event is for service providers and community members to understand and know each other better. At the end of the day, both have similar goals and strengthening the relationship is important. Working together is essential to understand the problems that the communities face and tackle them effectively,” Tigst Demeke, a research scientist at the Canadian Grains Commission, who volunteers for Excel Family & Youth, said. “The CMCCF is doing a nice job in bringing together the cultural communities and service providers for their mutual working relationship.”

“Values mapping was a good learning exercise. The values discussed are essential and common to all the communities represented. It was nice to have the LEGO® exercise and other discussions with the service providers.” -Tigst Demeke, member of the Ethiopian community

Demeke said he will take the learning from the evening back to members of the Ethiopian community. He, like many others who attended the dialogue, would like to participate in future Coalition events.