What are the objectives of Project Communitas?
The first objective is to strengthen individual and community resilience through the mobilization of 300 religiously, ethnically and culturally diverse young people from 7 cities across Canada. The project focuses on delivering 7 cross-cultural and cross-religious resilience initiatives which will promote social interdependence, social cohesion and youth leadership and bring together various community leaders and community stakeholders
The second objective is to provide and facilitate skill acquisition, knowledge building and empowerment of local communities and youth in confronting physical and emotional threats to Canadian public safety specifically racial, political and religious extremism, physical attacks and the weakening of individual resilience.
Why inter-community and interfaith?
A sign of a resilient community is the ability to reach out to other communities. This provides a space for knowledge sharing and developing best practices. In times of crisis, it is important to build strong and meaningful inter-community and interfaith relationships.
How do you define community resilience?
We combine the working definition provided by the Canadian government and Department of Public Safety with resilience expert Charles Edwards’ understanding of the terms. Community resilience is “the capacity to react to inflammatory actions and events in ways that prevent further harm and, where possible, for society to emerge better able to manage future similar stressors.” (Government of Canada, 2013) According to Edwards, it is “…the capacity of an individual, community or system to adapt in order to sustain an acceptable level of function, structure and identity.” We believe that community resilience within the Canadian context is not possible without the sustenance of individual resilience.
What do you mean by individual resilience?
Individual resilience is the ability of an individual to have a positive view of oneself and their identity, to manage their feelings and decisions, to communicate and problem solve and to have confidence in one’s strengths and abilities during times of crisis and uncertainty. This is made possible through meaningful and supportive relations from loved ones and the larger community.
We believe that resilient individual make up a resilient community. This is why we are encouraging civic engagement to promote such resiliency.
How do you build resilience?
We believe, alongside Charles Edwards, that the local initiatives must emphasize, education of local community members and citizens, engagement of local groups and lastly empowerment (local ownership by the communities themselves). (Hodgson, 2004; Edwards, 2009:65)
How do you relate radicalization to resilience?
Radicalization is a complex issue. This project focuses on tackling the structural, motivational and triggering factors associated with violent extremism that compromise individual resilience and result in radicalization. These factors include socio-economic and political factors such as: individual feelings of isolation, exclusivist identity, the absence of a larger sense of “home” and belonging, discrimination, poverty, education and underemployment, catastrophic events, misappropriation of religion and other ideologies, internal divisions within communities, the absence of strong community leadership and disenchantment with the political process/foreign policy. (Abbas, 2007; Brighton, 2007; Bjorgo, 2007; Choudury and Fenwick, 2011; CSIS, 2007; Jackson, 2007; Ozzerdem and Podder; 2011)
What is Project Communitas trying to achieve?
Project Communitas wants to promote local ownership and community empowerment; engage with all sectors and communities from various backgrounds; emphasize learning and skill development; and address factors which build individual and community resilience.
How do I get involved?
If you are between the ages of 18-30, you can help create a community resilience initiative. Please contact our Project Coordinator Stephane L. Pressault. He will connect you to your local advisory committee and you will be informed about local initiatives.
What are the project outcomes?
We hope to see a safer and secure Canada through increased public understanding of individual and community resilience and threats to Canadian public safety including racial, political and religious extremism and physical attacks. We also hope to address factors that may weaken individual resilience including feelings of isolation, exclusivist identity, the absence of a larger sense of “home” and the absence of strong community leadership.