The McGill Consortium for Ethnicity and Strategic Social Planning (MCESSP)

The McGill Consortium for Ethnicity and Strategic Social Planning (MCESSP) is a unique facility, which assists ethnic communities to conduct research in relation to their demography particularly by accessing Canadian Census data. The objective is to work with ethnic communities to render such data accessible and to be of assistance in determining the priorities and planning needs, which arise from these data. The Consortium focuses on issues of ethnic identity and discrimination, as well as the development of public and community planning systems to respond sensitively and strategically to the needs of these diverse groups. MCESSP has conducted extensive interviews with leaders of the Black, Chinese, Italian, Japanese, Jewish, Lebanese and Ukrainian communities. It has produced Census based demographic analysis of Jewish communities in Canada, and Lebanese Communities in Montreal, and published monographs regarding poverty and related issues. In 1997, MCESSP published Diversity Mobility and Change: The Dynamics of Black Communities in Canada, a national study of the Canadian Black population based on the 1991 Census. An indepth 2001 study, The Evolution of the Black Community of Montreal: Challenge and Change followed, based on the 1996 census. In 2010 a follow up study, with both quantitative and qualitative analysis of the Black Community of Montreal will be released. This study is based on the 2006 census. These studies have been funded through generous contributions from the Department of Canadian Heritage.

MCESSP assists numerous community organizations and public institutions to better understand and respond to the needs of ethnic communities.

The McGill Consortium for Ethnicity and Strategic Social Planning works in partnership and shares space with its sister organization, the Montreal Consortium for Human Rights Advocacy Training (MCHRAT). Through interdisciplinary legal and social work practice, MCHRAT provides expertise and assistance to frontline organizations that work with disadvantaged groups. MCHRAT's mandate includes training in human rights advocacy techniques, development of model programs, reviewing and proposing legislation and interdisciplinary research. The two consortiums combine expertise in community organization, law and demography and work in partnership with communities both in Canada and abroad.

The Montreal Consortium for Human Rights Advocacy Training

MCHRAT arose from collaborations between McGill’s law and social work faculties, which initiated a joint program in 1989, the first of its kind in Canada. MCHRAT was created in order to more widely recognize, facilitate and advance new interdisciplinary strategies capable of responding to changes in the definition and role of human rights. In recent decades, the explosion of public law on the one hand and the extension of the protection of fundamental human rights and freedoms on the other hand have guided these changes. As the State has extended its intervention in civil society, fundamental rights (i.e. right to health, education, social services, etc.) were inscribed in the Charters of Rights in Quebec, Canada and throughout the world. However, these rights are often very complex and very difficult to exercise, and they require social workers, community organizers, urban planners and demographers to employ expertise not just within, but between these different sectors.

MCHRAT addresses this changing system in a number of ways and with a number of partners; it recognizes that the capabilities, goals and strategies of community organizers, urban planners, social workers, lawyers and demographers are intertwined. To this end, MCHRAT has initiated interdisciplinary research and teaching, provided advocacy training that crosses traditional boundaries, encouraged exchanges between leading researchers, practitioners, students and communities in a number of areas, and developed model interdisciplinary programs to combat the deleterious effects of disentitlement, poverty and racism.

At the intersections of practice and theory, training and action, local and global, academe and the grass roots, MCHRAT operates within the parameters of four major objectives:

  1. To initiate interdisciplinary action research in law, social work, and demography.
  2. To provide training for disadvantaged people and front-line workers mandated to help them in the techniques of social advocacy, community organizing and civil society building.
  3. To develop model programs that empower disadvantaged people to participate as full actors in the democratic process in the face of poverty, disentitlement and racism.
  4. To encourage and advance exchanges between leading researchers, practitioners and students.
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