Common Ground Project

Engaging Youth Across Canada

  • circle image - project architects
  • circle image - common ground participants
  • circle image - common ground participants

Getting Started

Finding Common Ground

How can you find common ground among a group of people who may not identify (culturally, religiously, etc) in the same way? We worked with youth across Canada to build and test a workshop guide that helps empower young adults through a central framework of universal human rights as reflected in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to authentically bring their entire selves to school, to work, and civil society without having to live in a kind of religious or cultural "closet".

Try This: A Sticky Exercise

Have you ever found yourself working with a group of diverse people?

What you need:

  • Chart paper you can stick on a wall
  • Thick permanent markers
  • Sticky notes (various colours preferred)
  1. Put up the chart paper on different parts of the walls of the room.
  2. Ask the participants to generate a few statements that articulate different social values (especially those that there is disagreement about in Canadian society today). Write the different statements on each of the chart papers and below it draw a line. At one end of the line, write "Agree" and at the other end of the line write "Disagree".
  3. Ask participants to put their sticky note anywhere on the line that they feel most comfortable.

Below is an example of how complex the sticky exercise can get. Note that the two ends of the the line spectrum are not binary opposites (e.g. "Agree" or "Disagree") but rather different starting points for determining a personal value system (e.g. "External Truth" and "Experience & Reason"). The examples of each end of the spectrum are demonstrated not only with text but also a relevant graphic. The sticky strips have the initials of the participants on them to make it easier for them to compare and contrast their values while attempting to discover what values are common to all of them.

For more exercises on finding common ground, check out our full workshop guide. The guide can be downloaded below.

An example of a Sticky Exercise

About Us

The Common Ground Project

The Common Ground Project (CGP) was a national Canadian youth-led inter-faith inter-cultural initiative of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women (CCMW) with support from Citizenship and Immigration Canada from December 2011 to May 2013.

Vision The vision of the Common Ground Project was to facilitate transformational dialogue between diverse Canadian youth in order to develop a more harmonious civil society.

Goals In the short term, the initiative aimed at fostering civic pride and responsibilities of citizenship, while promoting inter- faith and inter-cultural understanding. The long term goal springing from this work is to develop a national network of Canadian youth committed to inter-faith/inter-cultural cooperation.

The way youth leading the project worked towards achieving these goals was to organize inter-faith inter-cultural activities for more than 400 diverse youth mostly aged 18-28 in 10 Canadian cities, providing them with opportunities to develop their critical thinking and problem solving skills to pragmatically address local civic issues of shared concern.

Achievements

Through the Common Ground Project, the participating youth

  • increased knowledge about citizenship responsibilities & civic engagement
  • engaged within their local communities and positively upheld responsibilities of citizenship
  • increased interfaith and intercultural understanding
  • increased their sense of belonging and shared citizenship between participants of the project activities, thereby contributing to social cohesion in Canada
  • gained skills which increased their employability
  • developed tools which others can use to promote civic engagement

Vancouver

  • 1Activity Completed
  • 4
    Project Animators
  • 57
    Participants

Inter-action was facilitated between youth and community members of Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Aboriginal faith traditions including Humanist and Agnostic values by means of "spoken word" poetry performances, communal dinner, and collaborative activity engaging participants to envision what kind of city they wanted to live in together.

Edmonton

  • 1
    Activity Completed
  • 2
    Project Animators
  • 22
    Participants

Inter-action was facilitated between youth and community members of Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Aboriginal faith traditions including Humanist and Agnostic values by means of field trips to 5 different places of worship and learning about the meaning of water in those faith traditions, the values of those different traditions about water conservation, and collaborative activities to negotiate more effective water policies in Edmonton and Alberta.

Calgary

  • 5
    Activities Completed
  • 4
    Project Animators
  • 31
    Participants

Inter-action was facilitated between youth and community members of Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Aboriginal faith traditions including Humanist and Agnostic values by means of collaborative cooking to build team spirit and learning about food production in Calgary, the slow food movement, local poverty, and presenting ways in which participants can get involved in volunteer activities to address food justice and food insecurity issues in Calgary.

Winnipeg

  • 1
    Activity Completed
  • 3
    Project Animators
  • 21
    Participants

Inter-action was facilitated between youth and community members of Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Aboriginal faith traditions including Humanist and Agnostic values by means of performance of rituals distinct to 5 different spiritual traditions, discussion of their meaning, discussion of how different traditions value human dignity, and how participants could work together to support Canadian values related to human rights in Winnipeg and beyond.

Ottawa

  • 1
    Activity Completed
  • 2
    Project Animators
  • 25
    Participants

Inter-action was facilitated between youth and community members of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim faith traditions including Humanist and Agnostic values by means of queering and decolonizing anti-oppression workshop training to better understand how to reduce harm, disenfranchisement, and marginalization of diverse youth in Ottawa and beyond.

Montreal

  • 3
    Activities Completed
  • 3
    Project Animators
  • 35
    Participants

Inter-action was facilitated between youth and community members of Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Buddhist faith traditions including Humanist and Agnostic values by means of collaborative art projects with natural materials to learn about concepts in different traditions related to nature, the sacred, and environmental conservation, a retreat in the wilderness to develop stronger bonds of mutual understanding and cooperation for common goals, and a communal dinner and creative workshop to figure out how to work together more effectively to address common social issues in Montreal. The last activity was primarily conducted in French.

Toronto

  • 2
    Activities Completed
  • 4
    Project Animators
  • 30
    Participants

Inter-action was facilitated between youth and community members of Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, and Hindu faith traditions including Humanist and Agnostic values by means of participation in the "Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup" to learn more about environmental conservation and volunteering at a local soup kitchen to learn more about local hunger and food justice issues.

Mississauga

  • 1
    Activity Completed
  • 2
    Project Animators
  • 17
    Participants

Inter-action was facilitated between youth and community members of Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu faith traditions including Humanist and Agnostic values by means of a communal dinner, creation of a community cookbook, and storytelling with the purpose being to see how these activities can facilitate building healthy community in Mississauga and beyond.

London

  • 3
    Activities Completed
  • 3
    Project Animators
  • 74
    Participants

Inter-action was facilitated between youth and community members of Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and Buddhist faith traditions including Humanist and Agnostic values by means of inter-faith peer mentoring, dialogue, and volunteering in the community.

Halifax

  • 3
    Activities Completed
  • 2
    Project Animators
  • 102
    Participants

Inter-action was facilitated between youth and community members of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim faith traditions including Humanist and Agnostic values by means of urban farming, communal dinners, and storytelling to strengthen community in Halifax and pursue opportunities to collaborate in community building between locals, out-of-province Canadian students, and international students.

Our Team

A national team of Architects and local teams of Animators led the design, development, and delivery of the Common Ground Project.

Project Animators at First Nations House, University of Toronto 2012

Project Architects in Gananoque 2013

Project Animators at the Faith and Spirituality Centre, University of Calgary 2012

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