Community mobilization starts with communities. Some communities you are a member of yourself, and others you work in solidarity with, to support their interests and desires. All of us are a part of many different communities, and have relationships to other communities because of who we are, what we do, and our choices and practices.
You can think of communities as formed by something shared. Some communities have a shared space, such as a neighbourhood, a town, a city, or even a country. Other communities have a shared experience, which often means a shared identity, such as race, ethnicity, gender, disability, sexual orientation, or parenthood. And still other communities have a shared interest, either in the sense of all benefitting from the same thing, or all being interested in the same thing. A community that is organized around any of these shared things can come together to work together to accomplish something, whether or not it is related to the thing they share.
In this video, Oliva Tran, who helped organize a group called Roofs for Refugees in Ottawa, talks about the different communities and identities she has, and how they have changed and developed over her life.
I see myself as part of many different communities; one as a woman of colour, as a student, as a first generation Canadian, that one is a really big one for me. Then, there’s other communities that come out but they might not be present in your everyday life or that you might not notice are not part of your everyday life. So for example, when the Syrian refugee crisis happened, that part of my identity as a daughter of refugees came out even though I am not a refugee myself, I can empathize with that situation and understand, and also to understand there’s a limit as well because I wasn’t one, so then you are on the border of a community.
Growing up and being Canadian was definitely a community, the only community that I ever only knew in terms of nationality. But when I became older I realized that adding the first-generation Canadian part to that group of community really does make a huge difference in how I see myself and even just looking at the people I surround myself with, there is definitely a connection there. So even though I still am part of this wider identity of being Canadian, I identify very strongly with the subgroup of first generation Canadian because I think the experiences of people with immigrant parents is really unique but also not that unique being from Canada. And there’s definitely things that we can connect with that other people don’t understand.