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Introduction

Creating and sustaining an organization can be a daunting task. Yet organizations are an important part of Canadian society, multicultural and ethnocultural organizations, in particular, play a special role. They contribute to the cultural and social fabric of many communities and they act as a bridge to other organizations. Ethnocultural organizations support settlement programs and associations involved in meeting the needs of newcomers to the country. They also strengthen the development of structures that form the underpinning of the economic, cultural, and social wellbeing of our society. These structures become part of the vital Canadian voluntary sector and contribute to nation building in Canada.

Today there is a need for community organizations to become accountable to their membership and to funders. With shrinking dollars they also need to work effectively and efficienty. Administrating and co-ordinating volunteer and charitable work is becoming more complex. This toolkit on "Capacity Building and Strengthening for Ethnocultural Communities" is a guide which can be used to inform ethnocultural communities about what it takes to organize, sustain and develop in the ever-growing volunteer sector. This toolkit is designed to help individuals who are working or volunteering in ethnocultural or multicultural organizations. The specific themes and issues in the toolkit were developed through interviews, a needs assessment study, and information gathered at a conference on "Building Strong Ethnocultural Communities" held in October 2002. Although each unit could be a workshop, the toolkit is designed for a two-day training session. The resource book uses case histories, examples, information from experts who have worked with ethnocultural communities, and data gathered from participants of the training sessions held across Canada.

The units contain basic development information, giving examples, identifying accessible and affordable resources, and providing workshop outlines for community trainers. The units focus on what it takes to be a healthy and vibrant Canadian community organization, which include the following criteria:

Have strong leadership
Be unified
Be self-sufficient
Have active youth involvement
Have a strong and committed volunteer base
Have a sustainable infrastructure and capacity to carry out its work
Have a positive media profile
Carry out activities that benefit all Canadians.

In the course of the research for this toolkit, we discovered that very little, if any, culturally appropriate training material for community organizations existed. We are grateful to the Multiculturalism Program for giving us the opportunity to develop this resource. We hope that it will serve as a useful guide for wide distribution, and that it will support the important work of ethnocultural and multicultural organizations across Canada.