By Deron Hamel
Makeda Kafele-Green says what she’s enjoyed most about being involved with Belonging Brant is how those participating in the initiative’s projects are always open to new ideas and support each other.
This, she says, creates a strong “community vibe” that brings people together with the goal of building better communities for people to live.
“There is never an idea that is out of the question,” Makeda says.
Belonging Brant is a Trillium Foundation-funded initiative that supports citizen-led groups and projects across Brantford and Brant County.
Makeda is a member of one of those groups, Building Connections.
“Belonging Brant has given me the opportunity to build up this community… They made it easy for me to explore and meet with people who share similar interests as me.”
The Building Connections group consists of people aged 14 to 29 who meet bi-weekly to discuss ideas to build a better Brantford and to bring about needed changes to help create a more vibrant community.
Makeda says it’s important to her that she has a sense of community wherever she is, especially when she lives away from home and is surrounded by new faces.
Belonging Brant, she says, has provided her with the atmosphere she needs to help build that sense of inclusion she wants.
“Belonging Brant has given me the opportunity to build up this community,” she says. “They made it easy for me to explore and meet with people who share similar interests as me.”
Looking ahead, Makeda says she plans to continue participating in the Building Connections group and looks forward to helping the project move forward.
“Having a different lens on things you thought you understood can be really eye-opening.”
In particular, she wants to help make Brantford a safer city for youth as well as create more diverse programming to attract new Canadians and people of colour so those with shared experiences can meet.
“(This) would add a different perspective,” Makeda says. “Having new perspectives from different people can give the chance for exploration and education. Having a different lens on things you thought you understood can be really eye-opening.”
She adds there’s potential for programs focused on diversity to help people create a better understanding of each other.
“Ask about me as person, not just a skin colour. Belonging Brant programs can help with that.”
“There could be change in ways that people see people of colour,” Makeda says. “As a black person living in a predominantly white city, I still feel discomfort walking in the skin colour I’m in. It feels like I am an artifact put on display for people to see at times. When I zoom out a bit and think from other people’s perspective, it may just be that they probably don’t see a lot of black people in this community.
“I would rather have a welcoming approach,” Makeda adds. “Ask about me as person, not just a skin colour. Belonging Brant programs can help with that.”
From her end, Makeda says she’s prepared to offer her time and ideas to the Building Connections group to help create diversity-focused programs and make them work.
“I love brainstorming, but what I love even more is seeing the idea come into a reality,” she says. “So, with enough teamwork and dedication to an idea, great things can happen.”
Be A Newsmaker!
What If Belonging Brant Became a Lasting Community Beacon?
Belonging Brant is already a light in our community. It is the place to be. With three years under our belt and our initial funding coming to an end this October, we have the opportunity to fashion our future anew. We’d love to hear what you’ve loved about Belonging Brant, what you’d like for it to become, and what you might like to do to make that dream come true. Consider taking a few minutes to share your answers to these questions.
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