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The Environics Institute, in partnership with Ryerson's Diversity Institute, the United Way of Greater Toronto, and the YMCA of Greater Toronto, is launching a groundbreaking research study focusing on the Black community in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).
The purpose of The Black Experience Project (BEP) is to create the first-ever comprehensive understanding of the diverse communities that make up the region’s Black population through exploring the lived experiences and views that speak to individual and collective strengths, contributions, challenges, opportunities, capacity and resiliency.
The results are intended to identify policies and other initiatives that will contribute to future success. The project includes three phases:
To begin, the BEP captured 19 discussions among small groups of individuals from the Black community across the GTA (encompassing the City of Toronto, and the Regions of Halton, Peel, York, and Durham). A total of 274 individuals took part in the community sessions (excluding volunteers), with each session including between 8 and 31 participants. These sessions aimed to identify the issues and questions of greatest relevance to the community by consulting with community leaders, local organizations, youth leaders, and the community at-large.
This process also provided opportunities for participants to contribute to subsequent phases of the project. Community engagement sessions were held with both “Trailblazer” community leaders and individuals.
The project is also being supported by a number of other leading organizations as Collaborating Partners, including the African Canadian Development Council, the Black Artists Network Dialogue, the Jamaica Canadian Association, the Region of Peel, Redemption and Reintegration Services, the City of Toronto, Tropicana and Black Artists Network Dialogue (BAND).
Research, Design and Execution
In 2014, the insight gained in Phase 1 will serve as a guide to the development of Phase 2, which will entail a comprehensive, empirically-driven study of the Black community. The community’s broad expectations for the upcoming research process were made clear. Research conducted by and with the community is of utmost importance. As one participant noted, “no research about us without us,” meaning research that:
- Effectively captures the diversity in the Black community;
- Is conducted in a respectful way;
- Focuses on the lived experience of individuals;
- Harnesses community individuals and resources in all phases of the research process to build community capacity (e.g., to initiate further research that may be needed);
- Focuses on assets and successes within the community while identifying challenges to be overcome; and
- Contributes to action in the form of policy, programs, and community building.
Meeting these criteria provides the community with the opportunity to build and implement strategies that can be transformational for this generation and ones to follow.
Post Study Dissemination and Public Engagement
Once the research has been completed, the findings will be broadly publicized, and sessions/events will be organized to actively engage the Black community and policy makers around implications and next steps. Collaborating partners and other supporters-at-large will have access to the study and its insights to help shape future plans and goals.