Righting Relations:

Adult Education for Social Change

A Women-led, Pan-Canadian Network of Adult Educators in partnership with the Catherine Donnelly Foundation

Intent on advancing broader social change strategies, participation and organization, the Catherine Donnelly Foundation has set a course that will lend priority to a women-led adult education process with Indigenous, Newcomers/Refugees and Low Income Canadian populations.

The purpose of Righting Relations is to strengthen the capacity of adult educators and adult education to bring about radical social change through political and economic literacy for a just society in Canada.

Program Goals

  • To build adult education leadership capacity by creating regional and/or pan Canadian networks of adult educators and community activists (hubs) committed to social change;
  • To provide resources/support to adult educators/community organizers actively engaged in advancing political and economic literacy work and in organizing efforts within the selected constituencies;
  • To foster, advance and encourage a mutual dialogue of critical learning, support and collaboration between the targeted constituencies;
  • To contribute to the social and economic advancement of the communities involved and to document and share the gains.

Regional Hub Development

Over a five-year timeframe, hubs of activity will be phased in focusing on each of the identified constituencies. Currently we are engaged in hub development in three regions: the Western Region, with a focus on Low-Income communities; the Central Region, focusing on Immigrant and Refugee communities; and the Eastern Region, with a focus on Indigenous communities. Whilst there are regional priorities to hub development, there is a deep recognition of the intersectional reality of our constituencies, and hubs are currently reflecting that multi-faceted and intersectional reality.

Anticipated Outcomes

  • A network of people (including adult educators and grassroots community organizers) that are organized and supported by hubs across the country. The hubs will have created tools and spaces that support a common agenda across three constituencies and their respective social movements (Indigenous, Migrant justice and anti-poverty).
  • The building of a shared agenda mapping the learning within and among the three social actors that reflects the process of political and economic literacy.
  • Dialogue to enrich decolonizing practices in adult education, documented on the Righting Relations website. (Launching early 2017.)
  • The shared agenda serves as the basis for action by the network that builds a broader critical consciousness and moves us towards a just society in Canada.
  • Skilled women leaders and models of a women-led process that can be shared with allies in social justice education.

National Steering Committee

Program oversight and direction is provided by the National Steering Committee, a group of experienced adult educators from across the regions engaged in hub development, working with and representing the constituencies of focus to Righting Relations (Indigenous, Immigrant, Refugee and Low-Income). The National Steering Committee leads and advises in the planning, design and facilitation of the program.

A National Program Facilitator works in collaboration with the National Steering Committee to support hub development and ensure connection and cohesion of the project within a national framework. The Catherine Donnelly Foundation has representation on the National Steering Committee and works collaboratively to give guidance and direction to the program.

Foundational Frameworks

  • Popular Education: A dialogical and experiential process of facilitating collective reflection and action towards societal transformation, with a focus on the most marginalized sectors of society. Everyone is a teacher and a learner, and we begin with peoples' lived experiences as a site for developing critical consciousness and awareness of power. Practicing an intersectional analysis, we question all oppressive power relations and recognize the interlocking and inter-connected nature of systems. We practice praxis: action-reflection-action as our learning process and recongize that we make the road by walking.
  • Political and Economic Literacy: This program seeks to ensure that participants develop the ability to read society’s various forms of information in an active, reflective manner in order to better understand political power, economic inequality, and injustice in human relationships. The development of critical political-economic literacy skills enables people to interpret messages in the modern world through a critical lens and challenge the political and economic relations within those messages. Those engaging in critical political-economic literacy initiatives are encouraged to interrogate political and economic issues and institutions like the political system, the organization of economic production and consumption, poverty, education, equity, and equality in order to critique the structures that serve as norms as well as to demonstrate how these norms are not experienced by all members of society.
  • Women Led: Recognizing the traditional teachings on Matriarchal Societies of the Wabanaki - a collective and heart-centred approach to leadership, based in dialogue, process and building deep kin-like support networks. Being radically inclusive, building trust, relationships and safe space are integral to how we work. There shall be a preponderance of female-identified individuals present at all times.
  • Right Relations: We take inspiration from and recognize the reconcilation movement to right relations between Indigenous and Settler communities in Canada and draw from it, a way to build bridges across diverse peoples - Indigenous, Settler, Immigrant and Refugee. It is a practice of the Universal Laws of love, respect, compassion and empathy for all of Creation, recognizing our interconnectedness and the need to share power and space equitably. We recognize the importance of being authentic and being right with ourselves in the process of righting relations.

Past Grantees: Adult Education Program Partners

The Adult Education Committee of the Catherine Donnelly Foundation has provided two Program Grants. The Community Social Planning Council of Greater Victoria received a three-year commitment ($150,000) to strengthen and extend learning and action on a previously funded poverty reduction strategy and Theatre for Living (formerly Headlines Theatre) received a five-year commitment ($290,000) to strengthen and support ongoing operations.

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Community Social Planning Council

The Catherine Donnelly Foundation provided one year of funding in June 2011 to the Community Social Planning Council of Greater Victoria for a Learning Community on Poverty Reduction and Prevention for BC’s Capital Region. The project had major success in generating community engagement on poverty. As a result, the CSPC approached the foundation and was successful in receiving a three-year funding agreement for a Community Learning and Action Plan on Poverty program to engage in collaborative social innovation using a continuous process of learning to build a system of inter-related program and policy developments to tackle poverty in the Greater Victoria region.
Website: www.communitycouncil.ca

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Theatre for Living

The Catherine Donnelly Foundation has provided grants to Theatre for Living from all three of our funding priorities exploring environmental issues, homelessness, social justice and mental health. Theatre for Living's work is a worldwide leading example of theatre for social change; theatre for dialogue creation and conflict resolution; theatre for community healing and empowerment. Projects have taken place in collaboration with First Nations and multicultural communities through theatre workshops, Power Plays and Forum Theatre events around the world on issues such as violence, suicide, racism, youth empowerment, homelessness and mental health, othering, bullying and community development.
Website: www.headlinestheatre.com

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