Multicultural Initiatives, Strategic Office
Library and Archives Canada
Some broad approaches governed the identification of invitees for each of the six in-person community consultation sessions hosted by Multicultural Initiatives and regional public library partners between October 2004 and February 2006. It was deemed important to solicit input beyond Ottawa and to conduct focus groups in disparate regions of Canada where feasible (in this case, Vancouver, Ottawa, Montréal). A balance was sought between newcomer perspectives and input from well-established heritage communities. All communities, whether newly arrived immigrant groups or long established heritage communities, evolve over time and thus periodic dialogue must be employed to ensure that programs, services, and collections evolve in tandem with these developments.
It was also a goal to reach out to community-specific organizations, including those that support a given community of focus as part of their overall service mandate. Often, the latter offer referral services, settlement and integration assistance to newcomers, and/or work to harmonize inter-group interaction. Again, the approach was to strike a balance of participation between members of the focus community and service providers who liaise with a spectrum of community members.
A secondary goal was to make contact with those who have not typically had significant dealings with LAC to date in order to maximize the two-way learning value of these sessions; while the focus groups facilitated information-gathering, they also presented opportunity to make Library and Archives Canada as a new knowledge institution, known to potential constituents who may not have had LAC on the radar to date.
Past focus group experiences suggested that the ideal size of discussion groups would be approximately 10-15 individuals-considerable enough to allow for broad themes to emerge, while at the same time optimal for dialogue.9
The approach employed here acknowledges the diversity within and between communities. Community members choose to speak from either their personal or organizational experiences and outcomes are the product of the opinions expressed by those who participated in these sessions; it cannot be assumed that these are the perspectives of a community writ large.
Descriptions of individual consultation sessions with members of each of the South Asian Community (Vancouver), Chinese Community (Vancouver), Somali Community (Ottawa), Black Anglophone Community (Montréal), Haitian Community (Montréal), and Italian Community (Ottawa) follow.
9. It is important to note that group sizes were not artificially capped; invitations were sent to an average of 20-25 organizations/individuals per session and all of those interested and able to attend were accommodated.