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Three Lessons on Engaging People With Lived and Living Experience

Posted on November 29, 2019
By Elle Richards

inclusion and diversityOn November 25, we hosted a webinar featuring special guest, Cheryl Whiskeyjack, Executive Director of Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society, co-chair End Poverty Edmonton, and a member of the National Advisory Council on Poverty. She left us with several takeaways, three of which are highlighted below:

  1. People are not islands. Children and youth for example, exist within a family and household unit, within schools and the community. A sense of belonging, feeling connected to family, to culture, and to community can be an incredible buffer against poverty. Providing supportive environments allows for relationships to develop and opportunities for people to flourish. Programs and services need to be designed with this in mind.
  2. Look at the world through a respectful lens. We need to first understand people, their cultures and world views and enable inclusive and participatory first voices. By practicing a sensitive service delivery model, progress can happen through learning, sharing and being kind and gentle to one another. This can only happen through openness and safe place.
  3. Collaboration can go a long way in creating lasting impact. The coming together of different agencies with a shared vision, such as with Edmonton’s C5 group, not only enables a coordination of a diversity of services, but more effective advocacy and influencing of change around policies and the underlying systems that promote and exacerbate inequities.

The discussion was moderated by Jonathan Massimi of the City of Kitchener and a seasoned Asset Based Community Development practitioner. He identified that throughout these themes, the notion of power is an underlying current – the external manifestation, systemic and internalized aspects of power. Recognizing these layers requires thoughtful consideration in how we work and choose to be as individuals, as agencies, as whole systems, and not being afraid to fail in order to move forward.

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Poverty Reduction, Cities Reducing Poverty, Lived Experience

Elle Richards

By Elle Richards

Elle has recently joined the Vibrant Communities team as Manager of Cities, Cities Reducing Poverty. Her experience spans corporate, academic, health and community environments, and working on national, regional and local programs of work, both strategically and operationally. In recent years, Elle has focused her work around issues of food security, poverty and inequalities in health.

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