Engaging the Migrant Community Outside of Canada’s Main
Metropolitan Centres. Community Engagement—the Welcoming Community Initiative and the Case of Greater Victoria
by: Oliver Schmidtke, Jean Monnet Chair in European History and Politics and
Domain Leader Metropolis BC, Department of Political Science, University of
Victoria Steffen Neumann, Doctoral student, Department of Political Science,
University of Victoria
MBC WP Number: 10-13
This recent paper from Metropolis BC Centre examines what the opportunities and constraints are in implementing a community engagement strategy in smaller urban centres, such as Victoria, that often have few well established community organizations representing immigrant and ethno-cultural minorities. The authors argue that a meaningful community engagement process relies on a political-discursive and institutional context that is locally specific. The case of Victoria demonstrates that the relative small size of ethno-cultural groups, the severe financial constraints faced by settlement agencies, and the relative indifference in particular by municipal authorities regarding issues of migration and integration create a challenging environment for the political engagement of the community.
The authors argue that a genuine political engagement process is critically dependent on the ongoing fostering of trust among community stakeholders, as well as the facilitation of community involvement through the provision of necessary organizational resources. They add that smaller urban centres require a long-term strategy designed to engage community stakeholders as well as to foster exchanges between those stakeholders and representatives in the municipal and provincial policy community.
The study also provides insight about the role of the Welcoming and
Inclusive Communities and Workplaces (WICPW) Initiative in BC, sponsored
by federal and provincial governments, in encouraging community engagement.