Values, Voice and Community Wellbeing

A Brief Story of Manitoba Cultural Communities and their Community
Values-in-Action Approach

October 18, 2019

Prepared by Martin Itzkow, FRSA
Executive Director, Coalition of Manitoba Cultural Communities for Families Inc. (CMCCF)


For almost 11 years, a group of committed cultural community contacts and informal leaders had been meeting and developing relationships with representatives within the child welfare system in order to ensure that these community voices would be heard, validated and respected. The anticipated result was expected to create and sustain better child welfare practices for their community families and their children. In these 11 years of engagement, there were mutual learning events, and community capacity building to educate and inform communities to navigate these very complex and often dysfunctional systems. It was clear there was never an opportunity or the willingness on the part of the system, however, to create an open and transparent environment in which to enter into a shared value mapping process.

From our current vantage point, we now believe that this missed opportunity by the system would have created a deeper understanding of which community core values could have brought communities and service providers together and which ones would have divided us!

Without going into our current analysis of what caused this relationship to fail, we believe that at the very beginning of our collaboration with child welfare it would have been prudent and strategic to have known about our shared core values and the aligned behaviours we should have paid attention to, and which values in action created the divide.

For us, this was an important learning after the experience was digested and discussed among our leaders.

So where are our communities now? After this, the communities decided to become independent, create their own coalition, and become a network of communities to broaden their reach to all forms of social and health services.

The coalition leadership have transformed their thinking, and at every engagement, mutual learning event, and discussion between community and services, values mapping is a beginning stage of this relationship building process.

Also, as the coalition continues to evolve its thinking and proposed action regarding the goal of community to strengthen their families and their children, we have entered into a partnership with the UK based Flourish Project with Wendy Ellyatt.

We are now focusing our attention on strategies to create the dialogue on how our networked communities can begin a process to determine if they are flourishing or not. Within Wendy’s model, we have seven levels or areas of flourishing, and ultimately, how will communities determine their wellbeing measures, indicators and actions to be taken?

Our starting point with our four demonstration cultural communities is a value mapping framework to create an understanding of the current community cultures through values (felt experience) that currently resonate with them, and then which values they desire for their future. We do know that often these future values can correct, remedy, or enhance current community cultures.

Then, we move forward with the community development engagement to first create the language to define their community’s wellbeing, to then identify and define the indicators, and to finally implement the shared action needed to create their concept of their “flourishing community”.

We know that the reward of mapping community values drives, directs and concentrates their efforts, and serves to inform their current and future actions to better their community conditions.

Martin Itzkow believes in making the world a better place.  That’s why he has dedicated his life to working in the community to create positive social change.  He is a powerful organizer of information and strategies, an innovator whose effectiveness is abundantly evident in numerous highly successful change initiatives. Simply put he is a social entrepreneur, a social innovator driven by a vision of stronger and more resilient communities.

Over the past 20 years Martin Itzkow has held many senior positions, in the Province of Manitoba, the nonprofit sector, as well as in the private sector in Manitoba. Throughout his career he has held positions in direct service, as well as in administration in nonprofit sector organizations serving youth, seniors and families. His very active consulting practice is local, national and international in scope.


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