The Multicultural Council of Windsor and Essex County (MCC) develops and delivers diversity and anti-racism training workshops for local businesses as well as for non-profit, public and private organizations.
The MCC's Best Practice is its Diversity Public Education Program. The MCC begins the process by conducting an initial needs assessment of a client or organization that has requested its services, gathering information and developing a pre-session survey. An MCC educator then analyzes the results, combines them with the theoretical portion of the core curriculum and the specific request of the organization/client, and develops a course that is tailored to the organization's specific needs. The final step in the process involves the use of participant evaluations to update current workshops and innovate for future sessions.
This approach has been successful because it illustrates and discusses diversity issues from different perspectives. For instance, in its partnership with the local Go for Health Initiative, the MCC developed a series of workshops aimed at the needs of different professional sectors, i.e. dieticians, nurses and social workers. In addition, as a result of its relationship with the Hospice of Windsor and Essex County, the MCC was asked to develop a training session tailored to the specific needs of the new Leamington Hospice. The feedback from both initiatives was extremely positive.
The initiative was inspired by a tremendous local demand from community partners, ethno-cultural groups, organizations and individuals for support and training. These groups and individuals wanted to know more about local diversity, learn how to effectively work across cultures and understand the struggles and challenges – as well as the contributions and achievements – of newcomers and immigrants in our community.
The MCC's Diversity Public Education Program is tasked with raising public awareness and understanding of diversity and cultural competence in the Windsor-Essex region. It works to increase public and individual awareness of biases and stereotypes, and develops tools and strategies for combating racism. The MCC's cultural diversity training provides the community with a greater understanding of the contributions that immigrants from all backgrounds bring to Canada.
This initiative intends to effect change in systemic barriers faced by individuals from diverse ethnic, linguistic and cultural backgrounds. The program, through its directed workshops, works towards the review of practices and policy procedures that might represent, and may result in, barriers to the access of opportunities and services in our community.
The underlying motivation for the development of this program came about as a result of the invisible barriers to accessing services and opportunities that help newcomers and immigrants become an integral part of the local community.
Making a Difference
One example of making a difference is through the MCC's workshop, "Creating an Inclusive Work Environment," which presents the concept that it is no longer enough for organizations to simply aim towards fulfilling the minimum legal requirements of inclusivity. Workshop participants gain an awareness of the need to learn how to tap into the latent pool of talent within the local immigrant population – with the benefit of fostering positive race relations – given the region's current demographic diversity and immigration trends.
The initiative's main challenge is in outreach. This is not due to a lack of individual or systemic interest in the topics of diversity and cultural competence but, rather, to time restrictions.
The program acknowledges this challenge and works towards time flexibility, trying to provide sessions at different times of the day, including after working hours. For instance, a recent session for local residents, conducted in partnership with the United Way Centraide, was offered in the evening.
Vision for the Future
The MCC envisions a Diversity Public Education Programthat is easily accessible to every individual, organization and company in Windsor-Essex. With this vision in mind, the MCC is working on increasing the number of sessions it delivers per year. In addition, it is currently working towards the development of self-guided online modules that would greatly increase the project's impact and scope.
About the Multicultural Council of Windsor and Essex County
The Multicultural Council of Windsor and Essex County is the area's leading agency in the delivery of cultural competence and diversity training. It is a charitable umbrella organization whose mission is to promote and encourage a harmonious society in Windsor-Essex that is multi-racial, multi-faith and multi-ethnic, and to work towards the social equality of all cultures. It has traditionally worked alongside the region's many ethno-cultural groups to promote awareness of the cultural wealth and diversity they have contributed.
The agency has, since 1993, consolidated knowledge and expertise in the area of curriculum development and training in inclusiveness, cultural competence, diversity and cross-cultural communication, and has established itself as a resource for tailored educational solutions.
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