The Mosaic Institute
Our Impact Why We Exist
Difference is the solution
The Mosaic Institute is a charitable not-for-profit organization founded in 2007. We are a national platform that amplifies the voices of Canada’s diverse communities.
We believe that an equitable and thriving society is made possible when different people experience themselves as valued members of society, which begins with being heard.
We strive to demonstrate that our differences are not problems; they do not need to be masked, ignored, or tolerated.
Instead, at The Mosaic Institute we believe that we need to engage with and leverage our differences, because our differences are in fact an important source for solutions to our shared social issues.
Our Story What We Do
We work with different communities to develop solutions that advance social justice and peace – demonstrating that often, difference can be the solution.
Dialogue: We focus on creating safe spaces for people to talk honestly about issues that affect them. Our programs build trust and understanding between and within communities by creating broader learning opportunities for young people, including critical thinking skills, global issue awareness, and professional development.
Research: We conduct applied research on subject matters related to diversity. We replace conjecture with empirical data to get at the real barriers and drivers of social conflict and inequity. Our research brings together leading experts and amplifies the voices and perspectives of diverse people in order to shift public perceptions from reductive thinking to nuanced understanding.
Action: We encourage our young participants to put dialogue into action by working hand-in-hand on community service projects. We leverage our research and dialogue projects through public engagement initiatives that inform discourse and influences policy matters relating to diverse Canadian communities.
Our Programs How We Do It
Our programs in high schools, universities, and the broader community are "changing the conversation" among members of diaspora communities with connections to violent conflicts overseas. We are creating platforms for diaspora community members to move from polite silence to respectful dialogue about the conflicts that affect their communities so they can help promote the conditions in which peace can flourish. For many of our participants, these programs have been life-changing, and have equipped them with the tools they need to build stronger communities here in Canada and help promote peace abroad.
All of our programming encourages young Canadians to work across community lines to develop globally-minded community service projects. Such projects have included the financing and construction of wells for internally-displaced people in northern Sri Lanka; enabling impoverished teenagers in China’s Tibetan Plateau to attend high school; and providing medical aid to Syrian refugees flooding into northern Lebanon.
All our programs measure changes in intercultural competency and/or inter-personal trust among program participants as a way to continuously improve the quality of our work.
Next Generation is our program that encourages high school students from communities with a history of conflict to think and act like “global” citizens. Since 2010, various versions of Next Generation’s specialized curriculum promoting global citizenship among young Canadians of South Asian background have been delivered through school boards in the Greater Toronto Area (including the Toronto, York and Peel School districts) and in Vancouver. During the next year, the Mosaic Institute plans to expand this program by producing culturally-relevant curriculum for young Canadians of Chinese and other East Asian backgrounds. Interest has already been expressed by school boards in Ontario and BC.
Almost 700 students from 18 high schools have participated in the term-long program to date, completing some 17 globally-focused community service projects in the process.
Toronto's Vital Signs Report
According to the 2015 Vital Signs report, the percentage of youth ages 12-19 who feel attached to their community increased from 5% in 2014 (after an 8% dip from 85.5% to 78.7% between 2012 and 2013).
Next Generation promotes a stronger sense of belonging to Canada and to the world at large among high school students. The program's focus on global citizenship complements the existing sense of belonging to local communities on the part of high school students and allows them to see themselves as indispensable pieces of Canada's global mosaic.
UofMosaic is our program promoting inter- and intra- community reconciliation among students on university campuses across Canada. UofMosaic offers a safe space where university students come together to exchange different perspectives, build trust and identify common strategies for advancing the cause of peace in regions of shared interest. Campus dialogues have focused on the Middle East, India and Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, amongst other conflict regions. The program also offers professional development opportunities through its Peace Professional Development Program for members of its Student Advisory Committee. UofMosaic delivers programming at York, Ryerson and the University of Toronto; Concordia and McGill in Montreal; and Simon Fraser University in Vancouver.
Since 2009, the UofMosaic has helped to inspire some 900 young members of Canada’s next generation of globally-minded peace advocates. To cite an example, our two-year “peace dialogue” for Arab and Jewish students at York University resulted in the creation of a student-led project to provide medical and psychiatric assistance to Syrian refugees flooding into northern Lebanon. As of late 2014, they have raised almost $30,000 through their efforts.
Toronto's Vital Signs Report
According to the 2015 Vital Signs report, 68.9% of Torontonians aged 12 and over reported feeling a strong or somewhat strong sense of belonging to their community. However, only 56.6% of young adults in Toronto age 20 to 34, feel a sense of belonging to their community.
UofMosaic can address this drop in sense of belonging among young adults. The program equips university students with the tools to become engaged in the promotion of peace in their communities in Canada, as well as in their regions of origin around the world.
New Beginnings is our program for young professionals connected to different sides of entrenched conflicts overseas to experience a fresh start in their relationship together as Canadians with a common interest in promoting enhanced understanding between their communities both in Canada and overseas. To date, we have delivered the program with the Sri Lankan community and with the Chinese and Tibetan communities. "New Beginnings: Young Canadians’ Peace Dialogue on China & Tibet", which ran from 2012 to 2014, was the most recent iteration of the program.
"New Beginnings: Young Canadian's' Peace Dialogue on Sri Lanka", which ran between 2009 and 2012, engaged more than 300 young Canadians with connections to all sides of the Sri Lankan civil war. Project participants went on to work together to provide potable water to internally displaced people in northern Sri Lanka.
"New Beginnings: Young Canadians’ Peace Dialogue on China & Tibet" engaged 250 young Canadians of Han Chinese and ethnic Tibetan background in Toronto and Calgary. Alumni of that initiative are now working to enable impoverished teenagers on China’s Tibetan Plateau to complete their high school studies and qualify for entrance to university in China.
Toronto's Vital Signs Report
According to the 2014 Vital Signs report, 66.8% of Torontonians over the age of 19 feel a strong sense of belonging to their community. Overall, this percentage has increased since 2009 when it was at 62% but it has decreased from 69.1% in 2012 to 66.8% in 2013.
New Beginnings can address the low levels of sense of belonging among youth aged 20-34. The program encourages young professionals to promote dialogue and understanding within their own communities and contribute to peace in their regions of origin. This increases their sense of belonging both to Canada and to the world at large.
The Mosaic Institute conducts applied research on the ways in which we can harness Canada's diversity to promote social cohesion in Canada and peace abroad. Our findings raise public awareness and inform governments and civil society.
Our latest research project, The Perception & Reality of “Imported Conflict” in Canada, was a national study to compare Canadians’ perceptions of the phenomenon of “imported conflicts” versus the lived reality of Canadians with a direct, personal connection to overseas conflict. Hundreds of Canadians with personal or family connections to eight violent conflict zones overseas were interviewed for this initiative. The final research report, which was released in April 2014, presents a number of relevant findings:
- Being in Canada helps people to re-frame the way they see “old” conflicts;
- We do not import violent conflict, but we do import trauma;
- Systemic racism and discrimination re-traumatizes people who have experienced conflict; and
- Inclusion (social, political, economic, etc.) is the most powerful response we can muster.
In addition to informing our community-based programming, the Mosaic Institute regularly shares our research findings with government, civil society, and other interested parties.
Partners and Collaborators
Since its inception, the Mosaic Institute has benefitted from working relationships with a number of funding and programming partners and collaborators. Some of them include:
RBC Foundation; BMO Financial Group; Citizenship and Immigration Canada; Public Safety Canada; Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development; Canada's World; Samara; Institute for Canadian Citizenship; Maytree Foundation; International Diaspora Engagement Alliance; Toronto District School Board; Peel School Board; York School Board; Vancouver School Board; Aurea Foundation; Ryerson University History Department; York University's Centre for Human Rights; Univeristy of Toronto's Munk School of Global Affairs; Univeristy of Toronto's Trudeau Centre for Peace, Conflict and Justice; Trinity College's Ethics, Society, and Law Program; McGill University's Centre for the Study of International Development; Concordia University; Simon Fraser University's Institute for Diaspora Resarch and Engagement; York Univeristy's Centre for Asian Research; University of Calgary's Department of Linguistics, Language and Culture; Machik Canada, Médecins Sans Frontières Canada; Care Canada; Rotary International; S.M. Blair Family Foundation; Canadian Arab Institute; Canadian Centre for Diveristy; Human Rights Watch Canada.
What You Can Do
Help Build a Stronger Canada and a More Peaceful World
The Mosaic Institute offers a range of giving levels to accommodate supporters of our work. Leadership Giving ranges from our Peace Envoy Circle for donations up to $1000 to our Peace Cabinet Members who donate $25,000 a year for 3 years.
If you are interested in making a gift to the Mosaic Institute or want to learn more about our Leadership Giving levels, please contact Wendy Sung-Aad, Director of Development, at firstname.lastname@example.org.