Community Stories

Community Stories

Many social development pilot projects have come and gone in Edmonton City Centre neighbourhoods over the years. Coalition chair Bev Parks notes that when ECMap initially met with community organizations, the first question was whether residents would welcome — or even tolerate — another project after so many failed to create lasting change or to represent local voices.

The research data provided by — and the community-based and early development focus adopted by — the Early Child Development Mapping Initiative convinced three established organizations to take the lead in forming a coalition, however. The Norwood Child and Family Resource Centre, Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers and Multicultural Health Brokers became the core team, coordinating efforts and information and bringing families and stakeholders into the project.

City Centre is diverse, even within subcommunities. Central McDougall and Queen Mary Park are home to many new immigrant families, for example, while Rossdale and Riverdale are coveted addresses for upscale professionals, and Oliver is a mix of lower- and middle-class residents. Some neighbourhoods are experiencing rapid redevelopment and gentrification, especially the poorest communities closest to downtown. The demographics of low-income areas such as Boyle will change as more affluent newcomers move in, perhaps displacing long-time residents.

Given City Centre’s unique history, the core team felt it was essential to hear parents’ voices, especially from intercultural and hard-to-reach families. The team wanted to gain a better understanding of cultural contexts and attitudes towards child-rearing and family roles and to engage families in meaningful discussions about positive early development. The first step is simply to talk with parents in natural gathering places, such as local cafes, playgrounds, houses of worship, and find out what’s important to them, their hopes for themselves and their children, and the barriers and lack of support that they may encounter in raising their children. The next step is to share these stories.

Source: Early Child Development Mapping Project, https://www.ecmap.ca/Community-Development/Community-Stories/Community-Stories-for-Central-Alberta/Pages/Edmonton-City-Centre.aspx. accessed August 1, 2013.