Engage for Change

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Engage for Change

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The Engage for Change project seeks to re-frame the relationship between Indigenous/First Peoples and non-Indigenous people in Kingston – especially as it relates to history, knowledge and culture.

New Community Events Calendar

The Engage for Change blog that was developed to share project updates and community resources has been expanded to include a community events calendar.  This calendar, which is currently being beta tested, allows anyone to submit an upcoming Indigenous community event and to provide links to external event pages and/or websites. 

Phase II of Engage for Change

Building off the first phase initiatives of Engage for Change, the second phase continued along two distinct but parallel paths. The first path focused on working with the Indigenous community members through a series of facilitated engagements to explore and plan for what a community cultural centre or space could look like and to consider how a related support council or advisory board could function in Kingston.

The second path focused on supporting Indigenous educational and programming initiatives within the city of Kingston and within the Corporation of the City of Kingston. The main components of this phase include educational partnerships and community programming and events

Talking Circles and Educational Partnerships (2018-19)

The intent of the City-led talking circles that formed the backbone of Engage for Change was to provide additional opportunities for community education and awareness of Indigenous culture, regional and National history and the process and challenges of reconciliation. These opportunities were expanded in Phase II and $17,680 in funding was distributed to support 14 community education events.  Those events engaged more than 2,400 people and included support for the following: 

  • Community Harvest
    • Harvest Day (2018) and Indigenous food teachings (2019)
  • Limestone District School Board and Algonquin and Lakeshore Catholic District School Board
    • Educational Indigenous Showcase (2019)
  • Kingston Canadian Film Festival film screenings
    • "Falls Around Her" (2019)
    • "We Can't Make the Same Mistake Twice" (2018)
  • Kingston Frontenac Public Library
    • Educational Talking Circle (2018)
  • Kingston Indigenous Language Nest and Loving Spoonful
    • Language Nest (Jan. through Dec. 2019)
  • Kingston Writersfest
    • "Hope Matters" and "Treaties and Ashes: Stories of Indigenous Experience" (2019)
  • One Roof Youth Services Hub
    • Kairos Blanket Exercise (2019)

Community-led Programming (2018-19)

The City of Kingston committed to providing support, both financial and in-kind, to community-led programming over the course of Engage for Change, Phase II.  In total, $30,590 was distributed to help support 17 Indigenous community-led events.  These events reached more than 3,800 people and provided opportunities for community education, celebration and ceremony and were made possible in partnership with community organizers as well as not-for-profit community sponsors.  The community-led programming supported as part of Engage for Change, Phase II included the following events:

  • Bi-weekly Community Drum Circles (Nov. 2019 to June 2020)
  • Busing for the community to attend the annual Tyendinaga Powwow (2018 and 2019)
  • Dia de los Muertos Community Gathering (2018 and 2019)
  • Indigenous Languages Research Symposium (2019)
  • Katarokwi Indigenous Day of Wellness (2018 and 2019)
  • Kingston National Indigenous Peoples Day (2018 and 2019)
  • Prisoner’s Justice Day Film Screening and Healing Circle (2019)
  • Sisters in Spirit Vigil for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (2018 and 2019)
  • Water Walk (Belle Park, Kingston to Tsi Tkerhitoton Park,Tyendinaga) (2019)
  • World’s Indigenous Peoples Day (2018 and 2019)

Community Calendar and Resources Website

The urban Indigenous community in Kingston has expressed a need for a centralized website through which residents can find relevant resources and contact information as well as content that speaks to the presence of Indigenous people in this area from a historical perspective. The Engage for Change blog that was developed to share project updates and community resources has been expanded to include a community events calendar. This calendar, which is currently being beta tested, allows anyone to submit an upcoming Indigenous community event and to provide links to external event pages and/or websites.  At the present time, the City of Kingston is hosting the Engage for Change blog and community calendar; however, it is expected that they will be transferred over to the community so they can be managed and maintained by the community as it moves toward the creation of a cultural centre or community gathering space. 

Facilitated Engagement

In order to identify actionable next steps between the Municipality and the Indigenous community, a third-party facilitation team, First Peoples Group, (Council Report 18-377)  was contracted to guide a series of community conversations. The facilitation focused on the need to create an Indigenous community council/committee to work with the City of Kingston on shared initiatives as well as to establish a plan to develop a community gathering space or cultural centre. The Phase II facilitation has now closed and a Phase III proposal will be brought to Council in March of 2020. Facilitation events included:

  • Feb. 10, 2019 - Engage for Change Phase II Community Launch at the Rideau Heights Community Centre and Library

  • July 9-10, 2019 - How Could a Cultural Centre Operate? Facilitated community meetings.
  • Aug. 10, 2019 - Feedback session and next steps on Cultural Centre Operations Model. Facilitated community meetings.
  • Sept. 17, 2019 - "Sir John A. 360" panel discussion event. This was a shared event with the Your Stories, Our Histories Community Consultation Project.
  • Oct. 16-17, 2019 - "Sir John A. 360" community workshops. How can we tell an inclusive history of Sir John. A. Macdonald? This was a shared event with the Your Stories, Our Histories Community Consultation Project.
  • Dec. 12, 2019 - Engage for Change Year End Report - What We Heard in 2019 and Next Steps (Facilitated Review Meeting).

  • March 3, 2020 Phase II report to City Council and proposal for Phase II (2020-2021)

Engage for Change Phase III (2020-21)

With the help of First Peoples Group and members of the community it is possible to consider next steps as a series of approaches to supporting, implementing and realizing change on a shared path of reconciliation.  Change is recognized as including: (1) symbolic change, (2) substantive change and (3) systemic change.  In order to be successful, it is also understood that change in any and all of these categories must be conceived of as a co-creation between the City of Kingston, Indigenous community members and the host Nations with historic ties to this region. As Phase II comes to a close, the local Indigenous community in Kingston is calling for symbolic changes that would allow them to see their culture reflected in and around the municipality. The local Indigenous community is also looking for substantial and systemic change that would see the creation of a community cultural centre/gathering space in the long- term as well as the development of formal protocols for working with the Indigenous community. On March 3, 2020 City Council will receive a report reviewing the Phase II Engage for Change initiatives as well as proposing a series of next steps that address the facilitation of change moving forward.

Pointing the Way

Kingston's Engage for Change project is rooted in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and guided by recommendations contained in the Truth and Reconciliation Findings and 94 Calls to Action.

The first phase of the City of Kingston's Engage for Change: YGK Reconciliation Journey won the Award of Excellence, Cultural Events, from the Creative City Network of Canada – read the full report on the project.

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