Three Months Simply Isn't Enough Time: SOS Congo and Bridges Update

Hello, again. I appreciate the opportunity to give an update on how the relationship with SOS Congo and Canada Bridges has been going thus far.

I first shared an update back in December when it was decided that Canada Bridges and SOS Congo would partner. I shared a little about Congo’s history and my personal journey as a representative of that community here in Canada. I am now happy to report that we successfully ran an Unveiling Youth Potential (UYP) training program for our community.

We started in January and wrapped up in March having two zoom sessions scheduled weekly. We ran the program with eleven youth and five SOS Congo facilitators. The group connected their personal stories to the story of their community (community map/community history), and saw themselves as change makers by developing community social entrepreneurship projects. As we went through the learning material, it was helpful to have other Bridges team members assist with ice breaker games, and teach about evaluation. Reflecting on one’s personal story and the story of one’s community was also a beneficial way to bring up topics of identity and systemic racism with the group. We heard from youth social entrepreneurs who are advocating for change to the Calgary Board of Education’s curriculum to include black history. In our last module, we learned about the importance for our community groups to be thinking strategically about inclusion and diversity within our organisations. We ended by having a discussion entitled “decolonizing the mind” where we discussed the notion of cultural hybridity and how it applies to all of our identities.

We were able to cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time. We are happy to report that all the youth and all the facilitators agreed to stay on with the project after the completion of the initial UYP training. The group is now looking to set up a mentorship program for the community and work to finding a space that can be used as a community center for our programs. This group has a lot of energy and potential. Moving forward it would be wonderful to keep developing our relationship with Canada Bridges. More UYP workshops, more cross-cultural events and support guiding this first group of youth as they work on their social change projects would be very welcome. We are proud of what we have accomplished thus far, but given more time we are certain that we can create a deeper impact in the community by further developing the budding relationship between our communities.

The next steps for the group are the continue to meet and establish a formal mentorship program as a change leadership project. We hope to continue our relationship with Canada Bridges and leverage that connection to build stronger relationships between the Afro Canadian community and the Indigenous communities of Treaty 7.