FOCUS ON: Safe and Caring Communities

by: Susan Hopkins, Ed. D, Executive Director of Safe and Caring

Community. Such a great word. The tail end of the word is “unity,” which to me, is really the essence of community. It is by uniting together through shared histories, shared goals, shared spaces that we create community and the sense of belonging that ultimately comes from being part of a group.

Communities can be geographically defined. I felt the social cohesion of a community while living for several years in a small community in the Northwest Territories, in the dynamic and never dull west end of Vancouver, and today in the vibrant neighbourhood of Westmount, Edmonton.

Yet feeling like a member of a community involves more than a physical location. I felt like an outsider to a geographically defined community when I lived in Ottawa at 19 years old, never feeling truly at home. During my years living in Italy, despite feeling so welcomed, I was constantly aware of my status as a “stanieri” – a foreigner, a stranger, an outsider. Being on the outside looking in can be a lonely place to be, especially on those days when you are feeling a little vulnerable and longing for the familiarity of being “home.”

There are other kinds of communities, without a geographic boundary, that I have felt a strong connection with over the years, such as the yoga and local theatre communities, work and volunteer communities and cultural communities. In this month’s bulletin, we have explored different ways of recognizing and celebrating community. Whether its celebrating common heritage, finding and pursuing shared goals, “being together with all your friends and family,” or simply treating one another with respect, communities offer us support, friendship, belonging and hope – something that all children, youth and adults across Alberta deserve.

This month, join Safe and Caring as we find ways to honour and nurture community in our work and daily lives, starting with the various perspectives and strategies shared in our news bulletin.

This article appeared in our June 2015 News Bulletin. Click here to read the rest of the bulletin!

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