WINNIPEG—Poverty, inadequate housing and lack of opportunity continue to provide immense challenges for inner-city residents. But community organizations are making a difference.
Using a Participatory Action Research (PAR) framework, The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives – Manitoba, in collaboration with Community Led Organizations United Together (CLOUT) interviewed 91 participants of eight inner-city organizations to better understand, from the perspective of program participants, the outcome of participation for individuals, their families, neighbourhoods and the broader community.
The findings of the study show that while progress can seem slow, participation is making a significant difference in peoples lives.
Programs that integrate Aboriginal teachings have a particularly powerful impact on participants. As expressed by one program participant : “…I’m gonna put my children on that spiritual healing path, so that they can be successful in the future.”
Also of note is that individuals begin as program users and become helpers. As stated by Diane Redsky, acting executive director of Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre: “There is significant building of capacity in the inner city that goes unnoticed because people outside of the inner city are fixated on the problems.”
It is also important for us to remember that for many individuals, life has been very complicated and CBOs can provide an important role. As noted by one program participant: “…I’ve had a lot of support at [the CBO]. My parents deceased when I was eight so I….ran around……[the CBO workers] did not give up on me…they straightened me out….”
Shauna MacKinnon, CCPA director and co-author of the report says: “we must not under estimate the need for unconditional support and guidance of family and for those who do not have this, CBOs and agency social workers can be an important proxy.
For more information contact Shauna MacKinnon, Director, CCPA-Manitoba at 927-3202.
The report is available on the CCPA website at http:www.policyalternatives.ca.