ANTIGONISH: It was an opportunity for everyone to learn.
Following an invite from the community of Havre Boucher, Coady International Institute students visited the area to gain some practical experience as part of their Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) program.
“[It] was an opportunity for the participants who have been studying all this time to get out in the community to put into practice some of the tools and techniques that they’ve been learning as part of that approach, part of the leadership development program,” said Tammy Feltmate, director of sustainable communities with the Municipality of the County of Antigonish.
She said Warden Russell Boucher and the community invited the students to spend the day in Havre Boucher, as an example of how a rural community works. She said they participated in a tour, visited local businesses such as the Credit Union and Gary’s Groceries, and toured services like the post office and the municipal waste water treatment facility, then shared a meal at the Havre Boucher Community Centre.
As the day went on, a press release from the municipality said comfort levels grew and bonds were formed, causing the energy in the room to grow. Residents shared many examples of success, including the building of their church and community centre, and the remarkable number of associations and committees that help keep Havre Boucher moving.
Feltmate said group work followed the meal and then Coady participants offered a report on what they see as the strengths of the community and what can happen to make it better. She said the county would like to see the exercise become an annual event and “then focus it more as we go on into specific programs or projects.”
Beyond providing new perspectives, new friendships were formed and ideas were shared for community projects, the release went on to note.
“Then they spent some time going through a few of the tools they put into practice at the Coady and that the participants will practice back in their home countries,” Feltmate said.
“There were a little over a dozen community members who participated along with 24 participants from the Coady.”
Coady Participant, Maria Fungomeli – manager and research scientist with the Mombasa Butterfly House, Centre for Biodiversity – Coastal Programme, with the National Museums of Kenya – thanked the warden and residents for opening their doors and their hearts, allowing them to put into practice what they have been learning in their time at Coady, for taking the time to spend with them, and for showcasing the community spirit and commitment that has accomplished so much.
The press release states that ABCD is an approach that focuses on principles and methods that support citizen-led change and community-led development, as well as on the assets and strengths of communities while recognizing their uniqueness. The release also states the ABCD approach works well in rural communities where wisdom, resilience and hard work ethics are abundant.
“The Coady International Institute is recognized around the world for community work and for striving to keep the basic principles of the Antigonish Movement alive,” stated Boucher in the release.
“We are fortunate to have such a resource close by, and it’s exciting to have a chance to work with them, to learn together. Spending time exploring Havre Boucher with the participants will allow us to see our community through new eyes, will bring new perspectives. New perspectives often lead to new opportunities.”