Fostering Diverse Communities Canada
Welcoming and Inclusive Communities in Alberta has origins in UNESCO's 2004 Canadian Coalition of Municipalities Against Racism and Discrimination (CCMARD).
"The Canadian Coalition of Municipalities Against Racism and Discrimination (CCMARD) is one of the six coalitions that compose the International Coalition of Cities Against Racism. The International Coalition, launched in March 2004 by UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), consists of networks of cities interested in sharing their experiences to improve their policies against racism, discrimination, exclusion and intolerance.
CCMARD addresses the need for a platform to broaden and strengthen the ability to protect and promote human rights through coordination and shared responsibility among local governments, civil society organizations and other democratic institutions. It is based on a common desire to achieve two goals: 1) Share experiences and lessons learned with others; and 2) Strengthen policies to counter all forms of discrimination to achieve greater social inclusion."
To date there are 73 municipalities across Canada who have become CCMARD signatories including in 15 Alberta: Wood Buffalo (including Fort McMurray), Edmonton, Calgary, Grande Prairie, Drayton Valley, Brooks, Lethbridge, St. Albert, Innisfail, Wetaskiwin, Fort McLeod, Provost, Devon, Red Deer, Medicine Hat and Cochrane.
To deepen the impact in Alberta the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association, in partnership with the Province of Alberta, created the Welcoming and Inclusive Communities (WIC) initiative which includes a website that hosts numerous tools and resources for communities interested in becoming more welcoming and inclusive. Do check out their website. You will find a resource for creating a WIC committee in your community, guide for engaging ethno-cultural groups community, diversity campaign tools and much more.
My own history with WIC dates back to 2006 when the City of Grande Prairie became a signatory to CCMARD and established a Welcoming and Inclusive Communities Committee which I sat on as an interested community member. My involvement in the WIC committee in Grande Prairie prompted me to go back to school and I graduated from Royal Roads University's School of Culture and Communication with a Masters Degree in Intercultural and International Communication.
I moved to Edmonton the first year of my studies and shortly after accepted a term contract with the AUMA as the Program Manager for the WIC and Come Together Alberta (CTA) initiatives. CTA focuses more on the newcomer aspect of diversity. One of the highlights of my time with the AUMA was facilitating regional workshops with communities around Alberta to provide information on WIC related issues specific to the region. At the end of the contract we hosted a Come Together Alberta provincial conference for 200 delegates and speakers to discuss issues related to the Aboriginal community, LGBTQ community, newcomers, and those with differing abilities.
My thesis research was conducted in Grande Prairie and involved a group of people who worked together to plan an art exhibit which was used to gather information and create an action plan and report to the City of Grande Prairie's Welcoming and Inclusive Communities Committee.
To follow up on the Come Together Alberta conference as well as my thesis research in Grande Prairie I created the "Fostering Diverse Communities Conference" which was hosted in 2015 in Grande Prairie and Red Deer in 2016. I am working with other municipalities in Alberta to host follow up "Fostering Diverse Communities Conferences" annually. If your community would like to host the next Conference pleace contact me!