One third of Canadians feel a “weak sense of community belonging” due partially to discrimination and social isolation, according to the Community Foundations of Canada’s recent national report entitled “Belonging: Exploring connection to community.”
The report is part of the Community Foundations of Canada’s national Vital Signs program.
“Belonging is a defining issue that’s central to some of today’s most pressing realities,” said Ian Bird, president of Community Foundations Canada in a recent press release. “When we look at the challenges facing our communities and our country right now, from our inclusion of refugees to opportunities for greater reconciliation with aboriginal peoples to our increasingly diverse cities, belonging is at the heart of our connection to one another and how accepting we are of difference and diversity.”
In addition, the report’s findings included: supportive interactions between people are one of the strongest factors found to increase community belonging; people who feel they belong to a community are more likely to contribute with others for the common good; visible minorities are more likely to identify with a new national identity if they feel their ethnicity is publicly respected; and Aboriginal communities that have maintained more elements of their culture and a greater level of self-governance feel more individual identity and community connection.
With this year’s launch of the Vital Signs report to unveil what Canadian felt about belonging, the Community Foundations of Canada has plans to focus on making national improvements for the next three years, leading up to Canada’s 150th anniversary in 2017.
With that goal in mind, the Columbia Valley Community Foundation has plans to issue its own local Vital Signs report to assess the well-being of valley residents next year.
“On September 14th, our board voted that we are going to do a Vital Signs report in the Columbia Valley in 2016,” said Laurie Klassen, executive director at the Columbia Valley Community Foundation.
“We are going to do this exact same report in the Columbia Valley in 2016, so it will be local and one of the key indicators that we will be looking at is belonging.”
The Vital Signs indicators used in the reports are grouped into categories to address: the Gap between Rich and Poor; Safety; Health and Wellness; Education; Housing; Getting Started in our Community; Arts and Culture; Environment; as well as Work and Belonging.
Klassen believes completing the report is the basis for creating a long-term approach to identify and address community needs from Spillimacheen to Canal Flats.
“We’ve never done one locally, but next year, we will be,” said Klassen.