From poverty to prosperity – OFIFC research project takes a new approach to an old problem

October 18, 2017

Seven Friendship Centre communities in Ontario are tackling poverty by working to understand what prosperity looks like in their communities. The Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres (OFIFC) is working in partnership with these communities to conduct a large-scale research project, Ganohonyohk, to identify poverty reduction strategies through the lens of prosperity.

“When we talk about poverty in urban Indigenous communities, we hear what the problems are. But we don’t learn about solutions,” said Magda Smolewski, Research Director at the OFIFC. “This project changes the question. Instead of asking communities about poverty, we are asking them how they envision prosperity and what it means to them. It’s a subtle change, but represents a substantial shift in the conversation.”

Together, the OFIFC and seven participating Friendship Centres are examining how local infrastructures support Indigenous concepts of prosperity and developing recommendations to enhance community-defined prosperity.

“Friendship Centre communities are articulating diverse, locally-specific understandings of prosperity,” added Smolewski. “Preliminary findings indicate that successful initiatives must be sensitive to these local contexts to truly foster prosperity for urban Indigenous communities.”

The OFIFC research team is incorporating the use of video to create research products that are accessible and engaging for community members. The project has incorporated a wide range of methods in a diversity of places that reflect different facets of Indigenous prosperity – including cultural grounds, Powwows, and within Friendship Centres.

Learn more about OFIFC research projects.


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