Community Development Halton is pleased to join the Canadian Caribbean Association of Halton and the Halton Multicultural Council as a partner in an innovative exploration of the experiences of black youth in our community entitled, "Growing Up Black in Oakville: The Impact of Community on Black Youth Identity Formation and Civic Participation." The report was prepared by Maureen Brown, an Oakville-based consultant and trainer in diversity and social inclusion.
Featuring Oakville as a case study, the research evolved out of growing concern over our preparedness to serve an increasingly diverse population. The study is unique in its focus on a 905 community and in its recognition of the challenges we face as our demographics shift. More than 50% of new immigrants to Canada and two-thirds of those who come to Ontario settle in the Greater Toronto Area. Forty-three percent of residents in Mississauga are new immigrants, the bulk of whom come from the Middle East, Asia and the Caribbean. Over the next 10 years, we expect these trends to increase in Halton.
The new make-up of our communities means that cultural assumptions on which we have traditionally operated may need to be re-visited, in keeping with our commitment to provide inclusive services. The study offers a rare and intimate glimpse into the minds of black youth, as it probes how they are defining themselves relative to their environment. Then, in the youth's own voices, it tells us what service providers need to understand in order to serve them well.
Maureen collected information through focus groups with close to 60 randomly selected black youth in Oakville, ranging from 13-24 years of age. Also interviews were conducted with key regional leaders, including Regional Chair Joyce Savoline and Oakville Mayor Ann Mulvale. In addition, she interviewed some 20 parents. The youth shared their feelings, experiences and perspectives. Our analysis was built with the help of academic and community-based research about the way communities form and the way youth acquire a sense of 'ownership' in their community. An advisory committee of representatives of Halton-based agencies, institutions (such as school boards and police), youth and parents guided our work. Eminent York University professor, Dr. Carl James, an expert on the topic, advised the research process. Community Dispatch captures the key findings of the report.
The report presents a format for creating a socially inclusive Oakville and Halton, in light of the youth's observations. It defines the concept of an inclusive community, based on a model that is being developed by the Social Planning Network of Ontario. A socially inclusive community cultivates a single social fabric that allows for individual group identity. It is a community where diverse people participate by 'giving back' and where they are included at the ground level of formatting what that community looks like.
Five keys were identified to encourage greater civic participation among black youth:
The results of the study will:
The study provides specifics on black youth that will help in serving them or in engaging them as participants. It also raises critical questions, offering a strategic approach that can be adapted to create inclusive work and service environments. Specifically, the study challenges service providers in Halton to:
To accomplish these goals service providers may have to review and adjust their policies and service approach. We urge them to engage in information gathering, discussion forums, and strategic initiatives to establish linkages with black youth and to equip their leaders to serve a diverse community. The report thus urges service providers to:
Community Development Halton is pleased to support regional agencies and service providers as they seek to create more inclusive environments for diverse youth. In the fall we will partner with the Social Planning Network of Ontario to host a full day seminar on these topics. Additionally, we will host a half-day session that focuses on diversity issues within Halton, using the black youth report as a case study.
For a print copy of Growing Up Black in Oakville: The Impact of Community on Black Youth Identity Formation and Civic Participation, please contact the Council.
Produced by Community Development Halton
860 Harrington Court
Burlington, Ontario L7N 3N4
(905) 632-1975, (905) 878-0955; Fax: (905) 632-0778; E-mail: email@example.com