Community development in English-speaking communities in Québec: Lessons learned from a participatory action research project

This report presents a community development project carried out from 2009 to 2013 at the Institut national de santé publique in collaboration with the Community Health and Social Services Network (CHSSN), an organization devoted to improving the lives of English-speaking Quebecers. The project objectives were three-fold:

  • to increase knowledge on English-speaking communities in Québec;
  • to develop tools for mobilizing theses communities;
  • to support English-speaking communities in implementing a community development approach.

Community portraits were completed with six English-speaking communities in different areas of Québec, representing very different socio-economic, demographic and geographic realities.

After presenting the background to the project, including an overview of the situation of English speakers in the province, we will discuss the conceptual framework for the project as well as the methodology used. We will then present the findings in three sub-sections: the six community portraits, reflections on community portraits as a participatory action research method and some lessons learned regarding community development among English-speaking communities in Québec.

This report is intended to share with a broad readership the knowledge gained through the process and to make a modest contribution to the practice of community development, specifically in the public health sector, but also in others. We recognize that a much more in-depth critical analysis could be done with the support of further research, since this project was an initial and largely unprecedented attempt to explore participatory action research with English-speaking communities in Québec, within a community development perspective, as practiced by public health professionals.

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