My practicum at The Winnipeg Boldness Project was an amazing experience that provided multiple opportunities for practical use of my skills learned in the community development program at Red River College. I spent most of my time researching and learning about topics such as the Province of Manitoba’s Early Childhood Indicator (EDI) and the North End Wellbeing Measure (NEWM) – a community-grounded evaluation tool created by the project itself. I was able to attend meetings and planning sessions, observing how Boldness engages stakeholders and interacts with community. By the end of my practicum I was collaborating with a department at The University of Winnipeg on an article to be published.
During my time at Boldness I learned about social innovation and how it is intertwined with community development practices. Research and development is a foundational part of social innovation, as it can aid organizations to better adjust, improve, grow, and evaluate themselves and their work.
The framework of the bottom-up approach we base everything off in community development is mirrored in the Child Centred Model – the project’s theory of change, which is at the heart of Boldness’ work. I also learned about scaling, a term I had not yet come across in my studies. After prototyping or testing an idea, if found to be successful or potentially impactful, the idea is then scaled up in size. Using this approach to grow an idea, prototype, business or initiative can be a valuable tool for community development.
The most valuable thing I learned was how most people and the media focus on the negative experiences that people have gone through and deal with. While it is important to acknowledge what has happened, focus can be shifted to look at all that Indigenous people have accomplished and how they continue to rise up. There are multiple examples of Indigenous people showing resistance, resurgence, and reclamation across the generations. Shifting the focus is a strength-based action that I hope becomes a cultural shift. I hope to promote this shift in my ways of being and doing in all my future endeavors.
Through my experience at the project, I found a lot of what I learned related to my studies of community development. Aboriginal History taught me about colonization and how it affects legislation, structure, policies and the lives of people today. This understanding is necessary when you are working with Indigenous communities. In our Healthy Communities class, we learned about the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions Calls to Action and how to implement them. We even touched on how reconciliation is not the only story and how we need to address decolonization and resurgence as well.
Traditional Indigenous teachings on campus started me on my personal journey towards cultural proficiency. I got to see how this journey relates to the Child Centered Model; it incorporates knowledge and understanding of history, enabling families to reach their full potential, and incorporating the values and attributes of the model into all actions.
On the more technical side of things, our Social Marketing class introduced me to quantitative and qualitative data collection and presentation. This method of analysis and continued evaluation was used to demonstrate the progress of programs and how outcomes are being reached throughout reports from organizations. Understanding how data is gathered and presented aided me in every part of my research. When I was relating school readiness to other societal indicators, I found that EDI scores can be used in association with gross domestic product (GDP) to compare statistics on education levels, school enrollment, and income; I see now how economics is worth learning after all.
Finally, the class Participatory Processes, taught me most of what I needed for my practicum, in order to know how to include the voices of those directly impacted in the whole journey, from designing interventions and throughout implementation and evaluation.
I would like to thank The Winnipeg Boldness project for hosting my practicum placement. I was provided with a chance to implement what I’ve learned and show what I can accomplish. I would also like to thank the Red River College School of Indigenous Education for creating the opportunity to obtain real world experience in community development.
– Katherine Rempel