Equity, diversity and inclusion workshops a community learning experience – The Brock News

This spring, Brock University and United Way Niagara offered a series of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) workshops for community organizations with the goal of creating space to learn, unlearn, and build relationships. connections.

Brock’s Social Justice Research Institute (SJRI) and Community Relations Office partnered with Tamara Coleman-Lawrie, Director of Strategic Impact at United Way Niagara, to host three sessions over three months focused on EDI challenges, best practices and next steps.

Over 140 participants attended each of the three virtual workshops.

The enthusiastic reception of the series reflected a need first identified by Coleman-Lawrie, who found it was receiving a high volume of requests for EDI resources from organizations large and small in the region.

“The pandemic has really shone a light on the inequities that communities face, and we started hearing how executive directors, organizations, and senior managers wanted to learn more about EDI best practices,” says Coleman-Lawrie. “We were seeing a plethora of needs from agencies working on policy development, so we wanted to be able to provide support in a collective format so that anyone who wanted to participate could walk away with what they needed.”

Julie Gregory, Project Facilitator for SJRI, says the high attendance and engagement of the workshops speaks to the community’s strong interest in EDI adoption.

“People were very excited to get together to talk about EDI and decide what to do,” she says. “And the feedback we’ve received shows that people want more of these opportunities to connect with the community – to share resources and share knowledge.”

Vanessa Cheng, Brock’s community relations manager, heard similar comments from attendees.

“After each of these workshops, community partners told me that they were inspired by the presenters and other attendees, that they reached out and connected with others to have conversations offline, to learn from each other and operationalize things that were discussed during the workshops,” Cheng explains.

Gregory also notes that the series of workshops highlighted many ways for participants to continue their learning.

“One of the main things that came out of the third session in particular was the importance of continually checking in to see how efforts are progressing,” she says. “The concepts around IDE are not static, so it’s important to constantly check whether new or different resources are needed, or whether an approach needs to change over time.”

Coleman-Lawrie says the series has also helped remind people of the role of accessibility in IDE.

“In the research she shared as a speaker, Dr. Liette Vasseur used the acronym IDEA — inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility,” says Coleman-Lawrie. “My biggest takeaway for the EDI work we do in our own organization is to not forget about this element of accessibility.”

SJRI Director Rebecca Raby said that while the workshop series was a bit of a departure for the Research Institute, the importance of EDI and community to SJRI’s mandate meant that they were happy to get involved – and the results were mutually beneficial.

“The IRSJ has worked to develop and deepen our community connections through research and knowledge mobilization,” she says. “This knowledge and issue sharing event helped build research connections between our faculty affiliates and community organizations, including United Way.

All workshop participants who have not yet had the opportunity to provide feedback are invited to complete this survey. For those unable to attend the workshop series, recordings are available on the SJRI Recent Events page.

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