Cultural Diversity and Inclusion
Cooper Institute is building on many years of work, focusing 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.