Ottawa’s Equity ProjectAugust 28, 2012
The Ottawa Immigration Strategy (OIS) identified priorities in six sectors, including integration capacity development.
One of the medium-term goals for this sector is to create structures and relationships that will help service providers design inclusive programs, governance structures, and policies to better serve immigrants and minority ethno-cultural communities.
OLIP partners at the Settlement and Integration Capacity Development Sector Table were invited to undertake collaborative initiatives that would contribute to the goals of the OIS. Partners at this table resolved to work towards the development of a shared strategy for building organizational capacity related to immigrant inclusion.
In line with this, the Centertown Community Health Centre initiated the OLIP Equity Project in an effort to build the welcoming capacity of local mainstream organizations. OLIP and the Centre for Governance contributed time and resources.
The OLIP Equity Project promotes equitable access to social, health, and education services for immigrants and racialized populations by:
- engaging Ottawa organizations that have a significant history of working to become more inclusive;
- facilitating a process of reflection to identify the approaches and resources that these organizations have found to be helpful;
- facilitating inter-organizational learning to develop shared knowledge and strategies;
- sharing these findings with a broader circle of local organizations seeking to become more inclusive; and
- facilitating ongoing mutual learning and development to transform local organizations.
Many local organizations have dedicated considerable time and resources to become more accessible to immigrants and racialized populations. In spite of these efforts, OLIP’s recent consultations indicate that access challenges persist.
Building organizational capacity to effectively serve newcomer and minority populations is multi-faceted. Sustained and comprehensive efforts are required to address staff training, human resource management, community connections, policy development, program planning, and organizational culture. While tackling capacity development on all these fronts is challenging, many local organizations have accumulated experiences that can inform others.
The Equity Project offers participating organizations the opportunity to learn from each other’s experiences, validate successes, and receive support for continued progress. The ultimate objective is the establishment of a common strategy to supports collective learning and systemic change.
Project activities include:
- research on the history of inclusion work in Ottawa and a literature review of frameworks and tools that are being successfully used by organizations in other communities/contexts;
- interviews with inclusive organizations to identify key steps in their journey;
- preparation of a discussion paper to document interview findings;
- facilitating a series of dialogue sessions with these organizations;
- documenting the outcomes of the dialogue sessions;
- sharing these findings with a broader circle of mainstream organizations; and
- facilitating an ongoing learning process to strengthen the capacity of mainstream organizations in Ottawa to effectively serve immigrants and racialized populations.
Participating organizations will share their successes, but also the challenges and setbacks they have experienced in working towards inclusion. This will help build an understanding of effective approaches that can be used by other organizations and, ultimately, make Ottawa a community that is welcoming to and inclusive of immigrants and racialized populations.