Belonging - there have been many articles and conversations around the concept of belonging - how it resonates within our communities, how our work places embrace it (or don’t!) and how in our own personal and family structures we explore what it means to be part of something. Last month I attended Community Foundations of Canada’s Conference in Ottawa where more than 750 community leaders came together to explore what belonging means to our collective work. Speakers and conference participants talked passionately for three days about what belonging means to them. None more so then a group of three community leaders: Desmond Cole (journalist and civil rights activist), Natan Obed (the brilliant young leader of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami) and the thoughtful Senator Ratna Omidvar (Senate of Canada). From their varied and unique perspectives, they explored the state of belonging and what it means to each of them and why it’s so important to be having these discussions. View their conversation here: Vital Conversation on Belonging with Desmond Cole, Senator Ratna Omidvar and Natan Obed.
A major theme running through the conference was the (at times) very difficult discussion on reconciliation and equality. I overheard at table discussions a community and business leader saying that until recently he knew very little about the history of the Residential Schools and the enormous impact that has had on subsequent generations. How do we reshape our relationship with indigenous peoples? How do we collectively listen and collaboratively move forward? Cindy Blackstock, from First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada gave a moving presentation which you can view here: Plenary with Cindy Blackstock.
We know that belonging is at the heart of building more resilient places to live, work and play. And we know that we are each responsible for working towards understanding what belonging means so that we can continue to model it in the work we do in our communities. To explore belonging further check out this report which uses the lens of social participation to better understand how we as individuals feel that we belong: Belonging: Exploring Connection to Community.