10-year-plus experience now being adapted to the Covid era
Engaging the community in meaningful discussions is what the Coalition of Manitoba Cultural Communities for Families has been all about for more than 10 years.
Before Covid-19, most of the engagement was in person. Since the pandemic began, CMCCF has adapted and moved its engagements online.
Florence Okwudili, CMCCF Board Chair, traces the history of the coalition back more than 10 years when it began as a network of individuals from more than 30 cultural communities working with the General Child and Family Services Authority.
“Three years ago, many of us from communities decided that it was time for us to become independent and to bring forward the diverse voices of all cultural communities to engage many other human service systems, including health, mental health, community safety, settlement, and integration, and of course the child welfare system,” Okwudili says.
“Now, bringing this timeframe forward, we are very proud of our role and our developing expertise of cultural community engagement — in person and online. We have now developed a robust platform to apply new technologies in engagement to ensure that we hear the diverse voices of our communities on a number of current and future community challenges,” she says.
CMCCF’s CEO, Martin Itzkow says that in person or online, the coalition’s participants have created a unique role for the coalition.
“We are at an inflection point in this time of Covid. As CMCCF the network, we strive to bring the voices of cultural communities to service providers and policymakers,” Itzkow says.
“As CMCCF, we are strengthening our engagement methodologies between community, service providers, and policymakers in convening many conversations of trust, respect, and dignity for all. Our hope is that cultural communities will not be limited to being only the consumers and recipients of services, but the co-creators and teachers of how cultural context plays an important role,” he says.
Steven Feldgaier, Community Engagement and Allies Facilitator for CMCCF, says the coalition supports cultural community voices through excellence in engagement and empowerment.
“The CMCCF has as its primary mission the goal of striving for excellence in community engagement. This goal is based on the fundamental principle that in all cultural community engagements, everyone wants to be heard, respected, and involved!” Feldgaier says.
In aspiring to this excellence in engagement the CMCCF provides opportunities for community members to be directly involved in the planning and organizing of these engagements, in carrying out these activities either virtually or in-person, and in collecting and analyzing the data obtained.
The CMCCF also utilizes a range of tools and technologies in carrying out these engagements and is also training community members to serve as both virtual and in-person facilitators for these events.
“With the reality of the Covid-19 global pandemic, our cultural communities have had to face many new challenges and hardships. The CMCCF has begun to explore alternative technologies to utilize in order to continue to maintain contact with community members and to also provide online opportunities to bring together diverse community members,” Feldgaier says.
Highlights of engagement and other activities by CMCCF over the last two years include:
Cultural Community Mapping
Over the past two years, three different cultural communities (i.e., Ethiopian/Eritrean, Filipino, and Southeast Asian Muslim) have held a series of learning events where community members have met and have identified their interest to gain the skills, knowledge, and tools to map their community assets, core values, and aspirations for the future. Learn more… http://www.cmccfamilies.ca/?page_id=800
CMCCF Panel Discussion: Bridging to the Future 2030
On November 23, 2019, CMCCF hosted a panel discussion with future leaders of three different cultural communities. This learning event provided an opportunity to hear the voices of a younger generation and to dialogue with them about their thoughts about the future of their communities ten years from now.
CMCCF Learning Event: Bringing Together Community Members, Service Providers, and Policymakers
This mutual learning event, held on January 30, 2020, was developed to bring together community members, service providers, and policymakers in the first of a series of mutual learning sessions to get to know each other better, to explore and share values, and to strive to find ways to work together in a mutually respectful manner. http://www.cmccfamilies.ca/?page_id=881
CMCCF hosts Sarah Kirby from the Centre for Healthcare Innovation
On February 1, 2020, the CMCCF hosted a mutual learning event for community members to come and meet with Sarah Kirby from the Centre for Healthcare Innovation (CHI). Ms. Kirby is leading an important new initiative within the provincial health system that is looking at ways to embed Patient Reported Outcome Measures (PROMS) in both health research and healthcare delivery. These measures, once implemented, will be an important new way of providing patients with a more direct voice in expressing their perspectives regarding the outcomes of the health services that they receive.
Mental Health Education for New Canadian Families
In partnership with the Canadian Mental Health Association, the CMCCF completed a series of engagements with cultural community members in the fall of 2020 to ascertain the need for new resources that might better inform new Canadians regarding mental health promotion and wellbeing, mental illness, and family supports. Community members have provided very helpful input into the topics that should be considered for such resources as well as the ways in which these materials should best be delivered.
Wisdom of Hardship
Over the past few months, the Coalition has served as the host for bringing together a team of passionate and committed people from Canada, Hong Kong, Austria, England, Scotland, and Sweden to develop a new initiative called the Wisdom of Hardship. CMCCF in partnership with our global contacts launched the Wisdom of Hardship, a series of inspiring stories from those who have overcome adversity prior to the COVID 19 pandemic. The series explores the values that helped them weather profound change and learn lessons that could potentially help others through the current crisis. A series of stories is now posted on the CMCCF website. http://www.cmccfamilies.ca/?page_id=1000
World Values Day
On October 15, 2020, the Wisdom of Hardship team hosted an international webinar that brought people together from various countries to discuss their personal values and learn from each other.
Annual General Meeting of CMCCF
On November 19, 2020, the annual general meeting of the coalition received executive reports from Board Chair Florence Okwudili, CEO Martin Itzkow, Community Engagement, and Allies
Facilitator Steven Feldgaier and Treasurer Zulaika Rahim.
CMCCF Youth Mental Health Panel: Times of Covid and Disruption
A panel of young folks to present opinions, ideas, challenges, and possibilities about youth mental health in cultural communities in Manitoba. This took place after our Annual General Meeting. Panel video: http://www.cmccfamilies.ca/?page_id=1352
Training of Community Engagement Facilitators
The CMCCF is training facilitators to lead meaningful engagements with their cultural communities.