Leading Community Action in Regent Park

AdvocacyThe CRC Regent Park Community Food Centre’s Community Advocacy program just launched it’s second round of Community Action Trainings, a program which empowers community members and prepares them to be future Community Advocates in our Advocacy office.

We interviewed three current Community Advocates – Greg, Sherry, and Nadira – who completed the Community Action Training in 2014, to hear their thoughts and experiences in the program.


What made you first interested in the community action training?
Greg – Empowering myself. At the time I was dealing with some issues with the medical community, and I wanted to empower myself and also others who might be in similar situations.

Sherry – Because I am an immigrant, I wanted to learn more about the community and about what CRC does. I also wanted to improve my language skills.

Nadira – On the poster I saw two words “advocacy” and “social justice”, that really attracted me. I have a background in social work in my home country. Community Action Training gave me the opportunity to build on my skills from back home and get Canadian experience as well.

What is the most important thing you took away from the training?
Nadira – How to deal with complex situations. We learned how to deal with issues surrounding poverty and mental health from a grassroots approach. We also learned active listening, which is so important.

Sherry – We learned so many things. We did a lot of skills training, especially around crisis intervention and resolution.

Greg – The segment on mental health, and the speakers brought in really helped explain what an issue mental health is in Canada. 1 in 5 Canadians suffer with mental health issues, and this training really made that real for me. I looked over what’s covered in this year’s training and not much has changed, and that’s good! We really covered a lot.

How do you feel becoming an advocate helped you in your future goals?
Nadira – Now I feel confident when I help clients. I had experience in advocacy before, but not in a formal setting, so I was able to that new experience.

Sherry – I got to put learning into practice. Even if you were someone who went to school for this, you might not have such a great opportunity to practice firsthand. We also have Justine to support us, and she’s very knowledgeable about so many issues. I mostly work with seniors from the Chinese community and they have language barriers that they can’t easily overcome. I get to help them with a lot of things – like getting their Permanent Resident card or taking them to the hospital. I feel very happy that I’m able to help them.

Greg – I feel less intimidated by societal forces. I also feel like I’m better equipped to deal with any problems I might face.

What’s something you want to say to new/hopeful community advocates?
Sherry – In the Community Action Training you learn a lot, not just fundamental skills, but also skills that are useful for work. It’s also very helpful for newcomers to Canada because you might not be familiar with how the Canadian system works for things like community resources, benefits, or income security. We learned everything for seniors, adults, even children. Even if you don’t become a Community Advocate afterwards, the training is still very helpful because it helps you not just know things, but to know them well.

Greg – Don’t give up! When you’re helping a client or yourself you might feel frustrated and angry because societal forces acting against you. As advocates sometimes we have to realize that we can’t help everyone, but it’s important to focus on the client and help those who we can.

Nadira – This is a great opportunity for you to use your personal skills together with your professional skills. You can benefit not just the community but also yourself.


Please also check us out at: