Aiming to bridge academic research and community practice, we examined how stories are central to our understanding of the world, and how research needs to be made more compatible, accessible and valuable to the communities with whom it is generated. We learned that our relationships are the greatest overall predictor of our health and that the outcomes of research need to be communicated through art and stories in order to reach beyond the ivory tower often associated with the academy.
The Symposium helped to reveal and strengthen the commonalities between Indigenous worldviews across Canada and around the world. It provided the opportunity to align and define a common vocabulary, to advance each other’s’ projects through collaboration and to celebrate the diversity and creativity across the network of participants.
Challenging perspectives were presented to illustrate concepts we may not be familiar with and to inform our practice and work.
- That many ‘States’ are an imposed idea, responsible for advancing a dangerous and hurtful commodifying culture,
- how legislation and policy have been used as a tool of the State to intentionally isolate, divide and remove the connection of peoples from their lands and resources
- ‘Poverty’ as a foreign concept for peoples who see the Earth as a sacred provider of all the things we need in order to survive on this planet.
Through an appreciation and honoring of the inter-connectedness of all peoples and the natural world, we examined effective, sustainable and successful strategies to tackle our shared global goals such as those expressed through the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Social isolation is a critical dimension which lies at the intersections of key challenges relating to poverty, health and community resilience, either causing or reinforcing some of the most pervasive aspects of development challenges.
Education is both an essential aspect to overcoming isolation but also one requiring particular focus, care and respect for cultural affirmation, community capacity and enabling self-determination.
During the Symposium participants confirmed that strategies embedded in listening, awareness and solidarity are the most effective methods for building cohesion and connection in and across our communities. We must respond to challenges and build social connectedness on many levels and also work from a spirit of equity to ensure we rebuild and balance in a way that allows every individual to achieve their greatest potential.
The 2016 Global Symposium Objectives:
- To improve our collective understanding of the costs of social isolation and the benefits of social connectedness through sharing best practices and lessons learned.
- To connect the needs and experiences of the isolated and excluded with key influencers, including policy makers, to effect positive social change.
- To identify measures and indicators for evaluating interventions in social connectedness, and identify areas for further research and collaboration.
The 2016 Global Symposium Outcomes:
- An agreed vocabulary to communicate about and act to increase social connectedness.
- Strategies that foster connectedness through community-driven social change and by mobilizing key influencers to adopt inclusive policies and practices.
- A framework and process for evidence-based, inclusive policy making.
These themes are framed within and consistent with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. This approach will ensure relevancy and timeliness to key discussions and actions globally.
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