This project was undertaken in collaboration with the Ontario Network of Employment Skills Training Programs (ONESTEP), funded by the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration's Partnership Grants Program.
Operating from February 2017 – March 31, 2018, the project aimed to develop an organizational culture that values diversity in leadership within small, rural community organizations, and help organizations become more diverse, equitable and inclusive. Recognizing that isolated interventions often fall short of creating a culture of inclusion, ongoing support and engagement was built into the project.
Indigenous inspired approaches and training methods were incorporated throughout the project, including the integration of the medicine wheel evaluation framework to deepen understanding, and encourage story-telling and participation. These “ind-spired” methodologies are effective for all learners, are consistent with and enhance recognized adult education practices. They also help to foster understanding of reconciliation.
Kitchen Table Conversations for Action on Inclusion employed a three-pronged approach: part “train the trainer” part “courageous conversations” and part “action tables”. The project engaged participants, across Ontario, to advance inclusive leadership. Project participants identified key issues in their communities or organizations and initiated a conversation or organizated an action to address it.
The "kitchen table" is a metaphor for a small, informal and safe setting; the conversation could be held by people sitting around a kitchen table, or a workplace, community centre, library or campfire. It could take the form of a movie night or a book club discussion. These conversations will provide an opportunity for people to express their ideas, opinions and concerns in a safe environment while building and strengthening community and sector networks.
The project has now been completed, but both OHCC and ONESTEP have invited participants to maintain contact through ancillary training and information sessions, conferences and newsletters.
1. KTC Introductory Webinars
Five opportunities to participate in a one-hour webinars were presented between April 19-27. This introductory webinar was both an information session and an invitation to participate in the Kitchen Table Conversations for Action on Inclusion project,
2. Conversation Leaders' Orientation Session
Nine orientation sessions were held between June and September, 2017, in London, Sudbury, Waterloo, Midland, Peterborough, Cambridge, Thunder Bay, Kingston and Petawawa.
3. Resource Kit
This resource kit was developed to help individuals and members of community organizations engage the diversity of their communities in a positive and meaningful way. The emphasis is on practical, tangible solutions, rather than policy, that can be implemented quickly and effectively in smaller, rural-based communities.
4. KTC Webinar Series
Three additional webinars were presented between January and March 2018 to explore some of the explicit and implicit ways that we communicate with one another. Each webinar helped to build awareness, identify strategies and develop skills for improving relationships and understanding ourselves and others.
- Communication Skills for Difficult Conversations - Recording and slides
- Microaggressions: The Macro Impact of Implicit Bias - Recording and slides
- White Fragility: Getting Comfortable with our Discomfort - Recording and slides
5. Follow-up Coaching
Project staff provided online and phone caching and consultation services to participants of the KTC orientation session who had pledged to take on actions for inclusion in their home communities or families.
6. Learning and Networking Event
On Wednesday, March 21, 2018 a final project event was held at the Ramada Plaze Hotel in Toronto. This was an opportunity for share information about the activities and results of the Kitchen Table Conversations for Action on Inclusion project. Presentations were given by two project participants who had initiated community actions for inclusion as a direct result of the project, and the evaluation consultant presented her findings on the impacts of the project. The presentations were followed by a lively discussion, during which many positive comments were made about the project.