SOS Congo and Canada Bridges are at a crucial stage in the development of the working relationship between the two organizations. As the year comes to a close, it feels like the right time to reflect upon what has been achieved and to consider what could come next. SOS Congo youth were first introduced to Canada Bridges via the Unveiling Youth Potential (UYP) facilitated workshops that we added to our music/drumming mentorship group.
In 2017 I was brand new at Bridges and was in need of a space to practice facilitating UYP materials. I believed that the youth SOS Congo worked with could also really benefit from the program. I started to teach UYP to various iterations of our drum mentorship group; we started out with just a boys group. Eventually we expanded and started to teach all young peoples. From there SOS Congo and Bridges kept working collaboratively. We worked together on an event called the Taste of Congo: Bridging the Gap in 2019 and we worked with an older cohort of youth as part of a UYP “train the trainer” program.
Since completing these joint projects, we have had the chance to evaluate, learn and think through changes that can be implemented in order to have more success moving forward. We learned that we did not emphasize relationship building enough initially. We want to be more intentional in this space so that we can make room for natural connections to develop. We also saw that there is more learning Canada Bridges could do with regards to Anti-Racism. Being connected to SOS Congo was a good impetus for us as a team to start exploring themes of Anti-Black Racism and seeing how exclusion manifests from the lens of a community that is new to Bridges.
It took some tough and sometimes uncomfortable conversations. At times it felt like the relationship had stalled. Now, looking back it seems that those moments were crucial in building understanding and trust. Perhaps the growing pains and difficult moments are unavoidable because they have proven to be so necessary for growth to happen.
With a lot of the hard work behind us, we are excited about the possibilities moving forward and hope to see things continuing to fall in place in the new year. We are ready to emphasize relationships more as we work on projects together. SOS Congo’s next upcoming projects are to film a documentary, as well as continue to support growth in our programs and marketing departments. We look forward to working on these projects, but we are more excited about the new potential connections that can be nurtured as we engage with more diverse communities within Treaty Seven.