Community Knowledge Alliance

Through the WGS Practicum course (WGS435Y), the Women and Gender Studies Program at the University of Toronto Mississauga built a seven-year relationship with Audmax, a Peel women service agency. During this time, WGS students completed their year-long community service placements successfully working in Audmax’s programs that provide community support for female immigrants and for former inmates in Canadian institutions.

Through these experiences, a critical gap in the Peel region was identified:  the provision of information and access to resources and services in the community. WGS and Audmax proposed the Experience the Experience workshops to build a community-knowledge alliance between WGS students and Audmax community members. The purpose was to address how best to overcome this information gap and to produce a vehicle that would express the participants’ experience. The latter was intended to be a mutual skills building, writing intensive partnership.

Building a community of learners, WGS fourth-year students (including the Practicum class) and agency members held two workshops. One was held at the Audmax office and the other on the UTM campus. The first workshop’s objective was to provide a forum for skills building and knowledge exchange. The second workshop produced a draft newsletter (print and electronic version) addressing the identified need for information. It also became a vehicle that captured the narrative experience of participants through poetry, prose and interviews. The workshops consisted of 24-30 participants equally divided between the two groups. A further outcome includes building a sustainable foundation for a community of learners through exchange of expertise between campus and community. The newsletter is in its final stage of production.

WGS at UTM and Audmax are grateful for the support of WGSI’s Community-Knowledge Alliance that allowed us to Experience the Experience and to build a foundation to continue our partnership.