Concerning the Necessity of Integration into Community
At times we might think someone will give us the answer or make things perfect. In reality, there is rarely an instant and simple solution. One such critical situation requiring focus is the African community’s continuous struggle to fit in, to find ourselves fully integrated into Canadian society and to take full advantage of what our new home has to offer economically, politically and socially. Let us be clear on all this opportunity, ours to participate in; there is no short cut. We need a proper plan as individuals and as a community.
Observations In Our Community
• Community organisations struggle to better serve the needs of people.
• Good intentions abound but organization members may lack training or vision.
• This may create barriers to building bridges of trust and solid long term relations with community members.
• Natural ambition to gain ground or get rich fast may lead to neglect of the fundamentals of service to community.
• Human nature being what it is may allow envy or strained relations to stand between community members contributing of their skill or intellect, and encourage, ignoring or hesitating to reach out to help and to share in the development of accountability, leadership and clear vision.
• Immigrant feelings of not belonging are aggravated when refugees and conventional arrivals alike fall into deep depression, or practical difficulties, and so stay on the side lines.
Diversity of Afric community members is both strength and a challenge. Arrivals come from several continents. Africa alone counts more than 55 countries and five territories. The Caribbean includes 30 plus countries, territories and sovereign overseas departments, and dependencies. We also count Afric-European citizens from different countries from E.U., Afric-Americans, Afric-Latino and Afric born Canadians. The need to work together is greater today more than ever.
How Can We Bridge All This Variety Of Origins And Backgrounds?
It may look complicated, but we can follow a model designed to bring success.
The Proposal for Your Consideration Is This
• We work together to develop an umbrella organisation to lead and direct, overall. To succeed now and to impact the next generation, the organization needs to be recognised by our Provincial and Federal leadership and to work in collaboration with community.
• Community organisations already providing service and those to come in the future have to work within the umbrella organisation. This will create a responsible, accountability leadership role.
• The umbrella organisation maintains the vision and plan for development and advancement of the community socially, economically and political by informing training, building and leading. Setting a true course and leading by example includes collaboration with community partners, organisations who are in turn accountable for the service and delivery.
Over the last 20 years the Afric community name has been used by various organisations to secure funds and attention, but most have fallen short on delivering services to the community well or consistently in areas of need. What results is called, positive demoralization sentiment, and has added to the trouble in our development and better integration into our current community.
We are not here to blame anybody in reviewing our growing pains as we strive to adjust and to improve. The goal should always be to encourage review and to seek the ideas and ways to put this community in better shape, to own our destiny and to lead confidently and with vision in the coming years.
One Model to Consider
INTEGRATED SERVICE STRUCTURE FOR OUR FUTURE
How The Plan Works Together
As our resources, including time and money are ever more in demand, to cover the landscape of need and to fully integrate for the strength of each organisation and the community as a whole, we need to work smarter. This requires the formulation of a concrete plan to advance the community and to allow organisations along the spokes from a central umbrella organization to interact with each other, the people they serve, and to ensure efficiency and use of resources by returning through accountability to the central hub or community umbrella.
How People Drive the Plan
Active lobbying for community organisation has already been in effect for the past 24 months to make these tangible ideas take root. Positive response has come from the academic community and higher education institutions such as UBC, and encouragement from all levels of government including active support from four senators. Momentum is building and we must be open to receiving both attention and the interest of possible contributors and true partners.
The intellectual and academic communities should be involved in helping to lead and to support better service and advancement in the community.
Naturally we must credit our many previous generations who stood individually or collectively to better our communities. From the earliest days of Canada’s history they included African explorers and then the trades’ people, teachers and community service people who were former slaves, their children and others who sought refuge from turbulent times and places right up until today. Now we also have civil servants, mayors, MLAs, MPs, governors, senators, instructors , entrepreneurs and the many who have made names for themselves in their chosen fields and so reflected well on their communities, or helped them directly.
The truth, however, is that our politicians, government or leaders will not give us the answers. We must plan and organize based on our inside understanding of need. In this way we can meet them half way and ask not for the answers, but the next steps so that we can blend our community needs, and our contribution with the systems already in place. Our government representatives are the listeners and decision makers in our society, and we must organize a message they can hear, understand and act on together with us for the greater good.
The Time Is Now and It Is Urgent
Need and opportunity are both present.
Positive integration is crucial for our successes in a new country and future development. Experience of our community over the past 30 or so years in Canada and in particular in BC, shows that there is a big disorientation and disappointment around the community about lack of direction and focus.
The community has failed in some aspects of gathering itself in a united way to both stem the growing difficulties of immigrants now and soon of growing numbers of young people.
At the forefront of community development are strategies vital to bring about positive and prosperous integration of citizens. If one minds history, one can see that every day citizens can drive change and organise a new direction for the community.
We must do this sooner than later and before our troubles go to yet another generation.
If two powerful leaders of the world (UK Premier Minister David Cameron and France President Nicolas Sarkozy) declared recently that multiculturalism has failed in the UK and France, perhaps our lesson today from this is that as Canadians, we can capture the best of our own cultures and integrate, rather than live separate from opportunity to blend with community and to flourish. We can be at the heart of Canada’s economy, its future with our youth and skilled immigrants now, benefiting now and helping to lead the next generation.
It means that time is now, simply because the world is turning faster and citizens are hungry for change and the chance to participate in society building and shaping. It means that our talented, educated and skilled people must come out of hiding and contribute their ideas and leadership. It means we must make room and opportunity for youth to be productive parts of our growth as community. Individuals must reach out and share in the progress.
Much pain and trauma has been part of the Afric experience in the 21st century. Isn`t it our time? We must stop blaming each other and face reality. We must stop sending millions of dollars to Africa`s corrupt governments and focus on the steady development of the communities here in Canada to fully integrate.
Since in most cases immigrants came to Canada looking for better opportunity, it`s time we fulfilled that dream. Afric people will never forget their home lands. They can serve as examples of success here and improve life for future African Canadian citizens as well as for those back home.
Surely we don’t need to reach critical numbers before action is taken and neither do we need to reach a critical situation of unrest and disenchantment!
Local leadership can only help our immediate situation and that of Africa or our countries of origin. It can be done with the help of government and other partners, but the spark must come from inside our own community; one with a plan and a vision to work collaboratively.
We must not simply sit idly by and fail to use our Canadian peace and freedom and therefore fail to prepare for and support the flourishing of future Afric generations.
Sample Successful Organizations with Wide Service Reach
In 1910 William Edward Burghardt Du Bois USA, an intellectual leader, formed through Harvard University, the NAACP simply to help integrate and give new direction to the Afric community. As a result we have been witness after 100 years of the 1st African American president elected in USA today and before that, the community growing on a better path.
“There can be no perfect democracy curtailed by colo[u]r, race or poverty.
But with all, we accomplish all, even peace.” by W.E.B. DuBois
In 1972, here in Vancouver BC, S.U.C.C.E.S.S. was formed with similar ideas and with the help of the intellectual community through UBC. It was created 42 years ago to assist and develop the organisation to positively integrate the Chinese community. They have now become one of the most powerful voices in all aspects of development. They are integrated and experience consistent success and help advance other groups now.
These, amongst other organized communities, inspire integration and therefore enrichment of the group and ultimately its contribution to society.