“A Circle of Care”: Building community together in Guelph-Wellington

“A Circle of Care”: Building community together in Guelph-Wellington

Every day at CESI, we have the privilege of partnering with a number of individuals and organizations who work tirelessly towards a more just, inclusive, and caring community. Their vision is bold and fierce, their passion is contagious, and their commitment to social change is driving tangible transformation. Together, they make Guelph and Wellington a better place to live for all.

This exhibit seeks to amplify and celebrate the work of a few of those leading community organizations and key CESI partners. Each of them generously shared with us their vision for the future, their key priorities, their successes, and the challenges that they are striving to overcome. These posters are an invitation to learn more about their contexts and contributions, and a call to take action and join us in creating change in Guelph-Wellington.

See previews of all 10 posters below; the full "A Circle of Care" exhibit is available in the Atrium.

HIV/AIDS Resources and Community Health (ARCH) approaches care and wellness in a holistic way, providing accessible and culturally responsive supports to people living with, affected by, and at risk of HIV and AIDS. They are committed to working alongside peers with lived experience, amplifying their voices, and ensuring that lived knowledge is shared, valued, and incorporated into practice. In this poster, they reflect on the challenges brought about by COVID and the opioid crisis, and highlight how recent advancements and creative programming are resulting in fewer infections and longer life expectancy for clients locally. 

Art Not Shame is a community arts organization with a social justice heart. Their mission is to amplify the power of the arts to build community, deepen access to creativity, increase well-being, and create the conditions for change in ourselves and in the world. In this poster, they share details about their multi-arts workshops and programming, some of which were developed especially in response to the COVID pandemic, underline the deep impacts of connecting and creating, and reflect on the challenges that can come along with community-making.

Chalmers Community Services Centre is a food bank that offers supplies and support to people experiencing poverty and food insecurity in the community. They provide nutritious fresh food, clothing, hygiene products, household items, and pet food to reduce the expenses that guests face and help families take care of themselves. In this poster, they share their priorities and strategies for supporting the local community, and highlight the role of collaboration in addressing poverty and increasing wellbeing.

Community Living Guelph-Wellington provides services to more than 500 adults with developmental disabilities in Guelph and Wellington County. They help connect them to their communities for work and volunteering opportunities, places to live, and recreational activities, all of which are tailored to their interests and support needs. In this poster, they speak to how the pandemic has impacted people with disabilities and and share how they are working to increase the community's capacity to welcome and integrate people with disabilities.

The Community Resource Centre of North and Centre Wellington envisions a community where every person has the chance to succeed. Through their programs, they seek to fill gaps in existing community services and help clients navigate the system so they can access the resources that they need. In this poster, they highlight the power of resiliency in helping people of all ages work through challenges and reach their full potential.

The Guelph Black Heritage Society is a cultural and spiritual community center located in the Heritage Hall - the historical British Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Guelph. They are an inclusive space that is Black centered, offering a safe haven and gathering place. They also work to raise awareness of Guelph and Wellington County's rich Black heritage and lead social justice initiatives. In this poster, they reflect on the importance of social justice and community-building while also acknowledging the challenges that can come with creating meaningful change, especially for the Black community.

The Guelph Enabling Garden is a multi-purpose site in Riverside Park designed for people of all abilities to enjoy the benefits of gardening. They offer a chance for people to connect with each other and with nature in a welcoming and inclusive environment, welcoming 20,000 people each year. In this poster, they speak to how the pandemic has increased demand for their space and programs and reflect on how they might be able to expand in the future for greater impact.

The Local Immigration Partnership Guelph-Wellington is a coalition of over 30 organizations seeking to enhance coordination and collaboration around newcomer integration in Guelph and Wellington County. In this poster, they discuss ways in which the pandemic has resulted in added challenges for newcomers while also increasing recognition of the value of immigrants' contributions to society. They also highlight key myths and misconceptions about newcomers and what they might need.

Out on the Shelf is a not-for-profit organization offering services to the LGBTQ2IA+ population of Guelph and Wellington. They seek to be responsive to the evolving needs of the local queer community and offer a range of programs, maintain a queer library and resource centre, and organize events and other educational opportunities. In this poster, they reflect on what their programs and services could look like beyond the pandemic and share how local community members can contribute to expanding the reach and impact of their organization.

Guelph-Wellington Women in Crisis is a feminist organization supporting those who have experienced or are currently facing sexual violence, intimate partner violence, and human trafficking. They offer counselling, emergency and transitional housing, legal assistance, harm reduction supports, and a 24-hour crisis line. In this poster, they point to an increase in gender-based violence due to the pandemic and suggest how we can begin to create a future where women, trans folks, two-spirit, and gender diverse individuals can exist in the world without experiencing violence and exploitation.