Given the mandate of the ECDC, authentic community engagement is not only desirable; it is a necessity.
“Authentic community engagement is the intentional process of co-‐creating solutions to inequities in partnership with people who know through their own experiences the barriers to opportunity best. Authentic community engagement is grounded in building relationships based on mutual respect and that acknowledge each person’s added value to developing solutions” (Source: Voices for Racial Justice).
There are numerous ways to undertake community engagement. Below is a framework we will be referencing in our work with communities.
Source: Adapted from the IAP2
Each of the five types of engagement above reflect different kinds of relationships that the “engager” has with the “engaged.” While each can have value, when it comes to engagement of neighbourhood residents, the ECDC is committed to working, as much as possible towards the right hand side of the continuum. It is admittedly harder to collaborate than inform or empower, but the possibilities of having positive impacts on people and their communities are far greater than simply informing or consulting with residents/communities.
Over time, I will be sharing more about the ECDC’s community engagement approaches and the promises that go along with authentic engagement.