Cultural Diversity and Inclusion
Cooper Institute is building on many years of work, focussing on dialogue about racism and anti-racism, moving toward "building bridges" of understanding between Aboriginal and non-aboriginal people and toward the promotion of action for change in Island environment to one of cultural openness.
In the years 2004-07, Cooper Institute designed and implemented a three- year project highlighting diversity and inclusion. From the beginning, and currently the goal of this work is to engage more people from a wide variety of cultural origins and to encourage them to become active in issues relating to productive and amicable relations among the diverse cultures. The emphasis under the banner of Diversity and Inclusion was to create new understandings of the richness of cultures on PEI, to find new ways of relating among diverse cultures, and to identify areas for action to promote an increase in respect for, and the value of, diversity. As always the aim is to enable more people to work at changing community attitudes and changing public policies to provide for full cultural and economic inclusion.
At the conclusion of the three-year Cultural Diversity and Inclusion project, participants made it clear that it was time for Cooper Institute to take courage and to open up the area of economic exclusion-inclusion. It seemed reasonable that the next step would be to address the relationship between cultural diversity and low income in PEI.. Unfortunately, Canadian Heritage which had funded the work to this point, could not approve a proposal to engage citizens/residents in the livable income issue as it impacts the lives of culturally diverse peoples. This is work yet to be done under whatever support might become available.
Cultural History Walk
In 2006, Cooper Institute with partial funding from Canadian Heritage designed and implemented Prince Edward Island Cultural History Walk. It consists of ten three-section display panels depicting the beginning and continuity of major cultural groups in PEI, beginning over 20,000 years ago with the Mi'maq people up to the present-day "newcomers to Canada". The panels are accompanied by an approved guide for use of the teacher/presenter. The Walk is an interactive cultural learning experience, designed to engage students and community groups in a deeper understanding and appreciation of the diversity of cultures in PEI and of the time-line representing the origins and arrivals of the various cultures. It is a two-year project. It was successfully piloted the first year, 2006-07, in a number of schools and community events. In 2007-08 the display will be made of more permanent materials and will be loaned to schools for a number of weeks at a time and be made available to community groups and churches on request. In the long term, the project aims to promote higher visibility and affective inclusion of the various cultures, thereby contributing to attitudes and policies which counteract isolation and exclusion which contribute to racism.
Inclusion of People with Intellectual Disabilities
Cooper Institute works in partnership with several organizations to advocate for the rights of men and women with intellectual disabilities - the organizations are PEI People First, PEI Citizen Advocacy and the PEI Association for Community Living.
Partners for Change
Partners for Change is a coalition of community organizations, service providers and individuals, all of whom have an interest in supporting people with intellectual disabilities to live as independently as possible, to have their rights respected and to be fully included in their communities.
The GOALS of Partners for Change are:
- to advocate for adequate supports, good quality program planning and resources to meet the needs of people with intellectual disabilities and allow them a life of dignity,
- to ensure that adults with intellectual disabilities are supported to live independently in places of their choosing, and
- to advocate for more supportive and accessible housing across the province.
Our membership includes advocacy organizations, service providers, community activists, educators and consultants with a wide range of experience working with and for people with intellectual disabilities. The list of members includes:
PEI Association for Community Living
PEI Citizen Advocacy
PEI People First
Holland College Human Services Programme
Community Connections, Inc (Summerside)
Joan McDonald, Inverlie Consulting
PEI Coalition for Supported Decision-Making
The PEI Coalition for Supported Decision-Making came together in 2005, to amplify the voices of organizations working to have the province of Prince Edward Island introduce supported decision-making legislation.
The organizational members include:
PEI Association of Community Living
Seniors United Network
PEI Council of People with Disabilities
PEI People First
PEI Citizen Advocacy
The Autism Society of Prince Edward Island
The Stars for Life Foundation
Alzheimer Society of PEI
PEI Cerebral Palsy Association
PEI Brain Injury Association
About Supported Decision-Making: There are many good examples of SDM legislation. Both the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (which was ratified by Canada) clearly state that all people regardless of ability/disability must be treated equally before the law. The Convention also requires that state parties provide supports to enable individuals with disabilities to maintain their legal identity.
PEI first introduced the idea of supported decision-making in the 1990’s and in in 1996, an Act reached 3rd reading in the PEI Legislature. Since then – over the past twenty years – several attempts to re-create legislation have been made. In each case, community groups were asked for their input.
Since the ratification of the UN Convention by Canada in 2012, all provinces and territories are required to develop SDM legislation in order for Canada to be in compliance with the convention. The province of PEI has committed to do this, and has included members of the community in its efforts over the past 2 or 3 years. A government/community committee met on a regular basis until 2015 and plans are in the works for that committee to reconvene.
Cooper Institute has worked on issues related to the rights of migrant workers since 2010. Find out more about what we've been doing here.