Civic Engagement Campaign
CASSA’s 2019 Civic Engagement campaign is focused on encouraging more South Asians to discuss issues that they care about and make informed voting decisions in the upcoming federal election. We are particularly hoping to talk to populations who may be disengaged, less informed about the political process, or require culturally sensitive material, such as newcomers, youth and seniors, through the campaign. The campaign involves conducting dialogue-based workshops at community organizations, institutions and spaces across the GTA, and chatting with residents at local community events. We will also be using our social media channels to understand what issues you care about, and will be developing content to educate you on the positions that the different parties are taking on key election issues. Lastly, we will be working with key figures in the GTA South Asian community to promote discussion on the upcoming election.
All Candidates Debate
On Wednesday, September 25th, The Council of Agencies Serving South Asians (CASSA), Urban Alliance on Race Relations and the Colour of Poverty – Colour of Change Steering Committee, co-hosted an All Candidates Debate in the Scarborough Rouge-Park area. 42 Voices and Scarborough Civic Action Network (SCAN) were supporting organizations assisting with outreach and promotion by spreading awareness of this event to their members and audiences. We also received help with promotion from some neighbourhood associations in the Scarborough – Rouge Park area including Highland Creek and Morningside Heights Neighbourhood Associations.
This debate was centred around the goal of furthering our Civic Engagement Strategy at CASSA by providing community members with the opportunity to meet their local candidates running to be Members of Parliament, engage in direct conversations with them as well as listen to their party platforms on issues that are important to the local community. The debate was partly funded by the Laidlaw Foundation.
The debate occurred from 6:00 pm until 8:00 pm at the Malvern Recreation Centre where approximately 100 people, predominantly racialized individuals, from the community gathered. All four major party candidates who were invited attended the debate. The questions were drafted based on CASSA’s civic engagement social media polls over the last 6 months, through CASSA’s local youth group, and through some of the Neighbourhood Associations in Scarborough – Rouge Park. Questions focused on addressing diversity of the riding, the Anti-Racism Sacretariat, online hate, affordable living for youth, and plans to improve lives for youth.
Video-clips of the answers to the questions by each candidate will be available on CASSA’s social media in the next couple of days.
Social Media Campaign on Federal Elections
The planning for the social media campaign began in the summer of 2019 with CASSA’s social media polls gathering information about issues of concern to the communities and how they learn about the election and electoral process. Using this feedback, effective campaign strategies were created to engage South Asians communities specifically seniors, immigrants, and youth; as they typically have lower voter turnout compared to the rest of the popualtion. Our goal to spread awareness of party platforms started with the All-Candidates Debate on September 25th and provided the community with the opportunity to become thoroughly engaged in the federal election, the political process, and education materials on party platforms. Following this, we began sharing perspectives on social media so that those who were not in attendance at the All-Candidates Debate had the same opportunity to learn about the party perspectives and be encouraged to make an informed vote.
The first phase of the social media campaign included the creation of infographics posted on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Infographics consisted of a five part slide with a cover image of the four significant political party leaders (Green – Elizabeth May, Liberal – Justin Trudeau, Conservative – Andrew Scheer, NDP – Jagmeet Singh) and the topic of focus of the infographic. Topics included immigration, health care, education, climate change, anti-racism, access to justice, poverty reduction, and employment. These posts were a great success and by reviewing the post insights on the social media site Instagram, the engagement numbers continued to increase from October 1st to election day. In fact, the infographic on education received tremendously high rates of engagement with over 700 people sharing the post and over 13,000 people reached in total, without the use of any promotion. Overall, it is evident that the social media campaign and the use of informative, colourful, and easy-to-read infographics were highly favoured by our Instagram followers, 67% of which are between the ages of 18-34.
The second phase of the social media campaign was the Youth Civic Engagement Contest. This contest requested South Asian youth who voted to present a picture of themself at the polls and tag their friends to encourage them to vote too. We promoted this post on social media to reach a larger audience. The winner of the $50 gift card exemplified one of the major goals of our contest; to encourage South Asian youth to be excited about the election process and encourage others too. The winner sent in a photo of her federal election vote card via mail all the way from Mexico where she was residing at the time! Congratulations to Onsia!