Despite Canadians’ strong support for democracy and concern for the health of their communities, more people are opting out of the democratic process than ever before. Samara is addressing this contradiction by working with local community-based organizations to help Canadians whose perspectives are rarely sought (youth, newcomers, and low-income Canadians) develop their political voice and reconnect to democracy.
Samara trains staff and volunteers on the core elements of Democracy Talks, and then works with staff to apply these principles to the particular programming needs and circumstances of the organization. For example, in an English Language Circle, activities are focused on unpacking the meaning of key democratic concepts and developing the language of democracy. In a youth mentoring program, creative, hands-on activities give young people the opportunity to explore democracy. But regardless of the particular approach, Democracy Talks fosters participants’ democratic voice by listening to what issues are important to them and what democratic values they most cherish.
Democracy Talks offers a valuable first step towards democratic engagement that supports the broader mandate of community organizations. It can be a first step towards:
- organizing an issues based campaign in your community
- increasing participation in an upcoming election
- gathering a snapshot of issues that are important to people in your community
- strengthening the connection between your organization and the political institutions in your community
In addition, Samara amplifies the voices of participants in Democracy Talks by reporting on the issues and concerns expressed, and then advocating for changes in our political structures. (Read a recent article about Democracy Talks in The Philanthropist here.)
We encourage interested organizations to check out the free resources below, and to contact us at info[@]samaracanada.com for information on how to use them in your community.
What is our role?
Nonprofits play an important role in making democracy stronger. Together with the Ontario Nonprofit Network, we have created a handy infographic for thinking about this topic. Check it out here.
Democracy Talks Core Resources
The materials in this package invite participants to critically examine their role within Canada’s democracy and learn about ways they might engage politically on an issue of concern. Samara recommends these resources for groups that are new to concepts of political engagement.
The package includes the following material:
- Facilitation Guide
- Issues: What Matters to Me Handout
- Democracy Bracelets Instructions
- Play Doh's Republic Instructions