Community Engagement for Social Justice and Social Change
Starting in 2007, the Mennonite New Life Centre identified community engagement as one of its three organizational priorities. It stems from the belief that full integration happens when newcomers participate in shaping their own environment, exercising leadership through reflection and action on social justice issues.
In recent years, our community engagement work has focused on building civic participation to address systemic barriers to fair and meaningful employment in newcomer communities. We work alongside immigrants and refugees to build analysis and policy recommendations, develop advocacy skills and understanding of our political context, and establish partnerships for collective action and a stronger, more effective voice.
To work for justice requires us to give priority to the dignity of the person – the first step is to make people active agents of their own lives.”
Our work is organized around four strategic lines of action: Civic and political literacy, participatory action research, coalition work and newcomer organizing.
Education in Civic and Political Literacy
Projects include: Latin American Civic participation Campaign (2010/2014); Building Blocks (2012-2013); Unlocking Newcomer Civic Participation (2013-2015)
Participatory Action Research (PAR) process
PARs include: Refusing to Settle for Less (2009); Community Mappings (2011-2012 * Here a video reporting 2012 activities); A Question of Lacking Access or Diversifying Action (2013-2014)
Projects include: Latin American Civic Participation Campaign (2010-2015); Beyond Canadian Experience project (2011-2013); LIP working groups; Roundtable for an Inclusive Toronto
Through our community engagement work, we challenge unjust policies and practices that stand in the way of newcomer settlement and integration. At the same time, we propose and support alternatives that affirm the dignity and potential of newcomers.
We believe that sharing our clients’ stories and our frontline experience can help policymakers to better understand the experience of newcomers and make more informed and compassionate decisions.
What you can do:
Stay informed. Pay attention to news reports about immigration issues. Look for alternative sources of information. Talk to newcomers about how they have been affected by immigration policies.
Educate others. Organize a talk or a workshop. Invite both newcomers and advocates to speak. There are many myths and misunderstandings about refugees and immigrants that contribute to prejudice and racism. Education is the first step to change.
Write a letter or visit your MP. Let decision makers know what you think. Share your concerns, and give clear recommendations for change. Newcomers have rights to be respected and contributions to offer Canada.
Participate in advocacy campaigns. Watch this website for information about current campaigns, or visit our advocacy links.
What’s Your Story