“Thank you so much for taking a chance on me. Because of you, I feel like I can really make a difference and that is priceless.” - Community Action Training graduate from Regent Park Community Food Centre.
On June 13, 2016, 14 community members from the Regent Park Community Food Centre graduated from a Community Action Training (CAT) program. CAT programs like this one are offered at Community Food Centres nation-wide, and consist of a 12-week community action training course that prepares community members with lived experience of poverty and marginalization to become actors for change in their community through engagement on social issues and as Community Advocates in the CFC’s Community. And the impact shows: in 2016, 54% of community members surveyed have become more active and engaged on issues that affect them.
“Participants told me multiple times how much they liked the training, how useful, and how important it was,” remarked Justine Barone, Community Advocacy Coordinator at Regent Park Community Food Centre. “And, how they valued the space and opportunity to have this experience.”
These empowering and impactful CAT programs have been partially supported by the Steelworkers Humanity Fund, a charity funded for over 25 years by contributions from United Steelworkers members. The Steelworkers Humanity Fund is focused on supporting educational programs at community organizations that contribute to social justice and the reduction of poverty, enabling community groups to advocate, organize, and mobilize. Their grant to Community Food Centres Canada is helping to support six CAT programs at The Local CFC (Stratford, ON), The Table CFC (Perth, ON), Hamilton CFC (Hamilton, ON), Regent Park CFC (Toronto, ON), NorWest Co-op CFC (Winnipeg, MB) and Dartmouth North CFC (Dartmouth, NS).
"Since 1985, members of the Steelworkers Union have been donating 1 cent per hour worked to fight poverty through the Steelworkers Humanity Fund," said Jorge Garcia-Orgales from the Steelworkers Humanity Fund."The issues confronted by communities served by the Community Food Centres are issues of poverty. Those communities need to have their own voice, their own advocates to ensure a better future in a more equal society. The Community Action Training is preparing those advocates. Every time one of those advocates move forward resolving a problem in their community, we know we are doing the job that our members gave us more than 30 years ago."
Thanks to the Steelworkers Humanity Fund for their funding to help engage and empower communities in fighting for social justice.