Créer une communauté qui s’entraide en se reconnectant aux autres / Create a community that helps each other by reconnecting with others

Started in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic is now under control. From 2022, people were able to move freely again. Reconnecting with others did not happen automatically or as naturally as one might have thought. It is partly to help with this reconnection that three organizations organized the Creating Collective Care conference, which took place last week in Summerside.

The Creating Collective Care conference is a joint effort with the United Way of PEI. , from the Community Sector Network of PEI. and the Prince Edward Island Advisory Council on the Status of Women.

“We brought together people from all over the province, from the west, the east and the center. We have people at all decision-making levels and also members of the general public. The conference was open to all people who want to contribute constructively and improve the lives of everyone around them,” recalls Alexia Riche, coordinator of the PEI Community Sector Network, one of the three supporting organizations.

In recent years, citizens of Prince Edward Island have faced many challenges, from the impacts of the global pandemic to the devastation caused by Post-Tropical Storm Fiona. The impacts of climate change on a delicate island ecosystem are being felt and Prince Edwardians are facing the highest inflation rates in the country, food insecurity, a housing accessibility and affordability crisis, and growing economic disparity.

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From left to right: Treena Smith of United Way PEI, Jane Ledwell and Michelle Jay, respectively director and chair of the PEI Women’s Advisory Council and Andrea MacDonald, also of United Way PEI (Centraide PEI) holding a very inclusive welcome poster.

For Alexia Riche and her fellow organizers, these constraints have put enormous pressure on community organizations and people who work or volunteer in the sector and are no stranger to burnout.

The majority of organizations are led by women who, for various reasons, are disproportionately responsible for caring for children, people with disabilities and the elderly. Additionally, our organizations are increasingly called upon to lead community responses, providing formal and informal assistance to people in need. It is in this context that the Creating Collective Care conference was organized.

“We aim to bring together people who work and volunteer in the sector to create energy, foster engagement and enhance our capacity for collective action, mutuality and community transformation,” explains Alexia Riche.

After more than two days of workshops, talks, exchanges, sharing of information and learning, Alexia Riche believes that everyone will return home with a more acute awareness of interconnection and the importance of working together to make things happen.

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Alexia Riche, coordinator of the Community Sector Council, one of the three organizations that organized the conference on action and collective consciousness on the Island. The other two organizations are United Way and the Advisory Council on the Status of Women.

“You know, organizing our community sector into a well-organized network stems from a conference of these folks in 2017, hosted by United Way PEI. At this conference people expressed the need to work more together and that’s how we were set up. And now, we are here and we support community development,” describes Alexia Riche.

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