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Like all Canadians, Prince Edward Islanders are deeply concerned about issues related to their quality of life, community and human rights, and environmental issues. Many associations and committees bring Islanders together to address these questions, raise public awareness, and strive for social improvement.

Providing services for other Island associations, the Prince Edward Island Environmental Network counts some 30 groups among its membership. Some are locally-based, concerned primarily with their own community or watershed. These include, among several others, the Mill River Committee and the Bedeque Bay Environmental Management Association. Others take in a broader scope, addressing global issues as they relate to life and practices in Prince Edward Island. They range in approach from a broad, inclusive involvement in community life to a more radical or critical stance. At various points along this spectrum, we find groups such as the Island Nature Trust, the Natural History Society, Friends of the Island, ECOPEI (the Environmental Coalition of Prince Edward Island), Earth Action, and Sierra Club Youth. Some groups, such as the Prince Edward Island Forest Improvement Association and the Organic Crop Improvement Association take a more sectoral interest in environmental issues. Though they address the problem in different ways from different perspectives, all are committed to protecting the Island’s natural environment.

Many Islanders are also involved in solidarity groups through their local churches and through numerous secular, non-governmental organizations. Two of these are Development and Peace and Youth for Social Justice. CUSO is a Canadian organization working with people striving for freedom, self-determination, cultural survival, and gender and racial equality in countries around the world. Every year, people from communities across the Island become CUSO co-operants, travelling to other regions of the world where their skills will be useful. Oxfam-PEI seeks to address the structural causes of poverty and related injustices. The organization’s most recent local activity involved the establishment in Charlottetown of a community organic garden. This project served as a centrepiece for education about global food security.

Many groups engaged in social advocacy are involved in issues related to women, persons with disabilities, the law, learning, advocacy, and education. Some of these organizations are the Advisory Council on the Status of Women, the Disabled Women’s Network, and Queens County Disability Advisory Committee. Anderson House and Transition House and their respective help lines provide support in the form of services and programs to women and children who have been abused or live in fear of violence. Prince Edward Island Citizen Advocacy, for example, protects the rights of people labelled “mentally handicapped,” providing individual support and advocacy.

Labour on the Island has a number of voices through various unions in trades and in the public sector. The Canadian Labour Congress, the national voice for the labour movement, has a presence on the Island in the form of the Prince Edward Island Federation of Labour. This organization advocates decent wages, working conditions, improved health and safety laws, fair taxes, social programs, childcare, Medicare, and pensions.

Advocacy groups in the province enjoy a unique benefit stemming from the province’s small size. Prince Edward Island offers countless opportunities for coalition-building and sharing resources. Consequently, it is not unusual to see environmental, labour, women’s, solidarity, and citizen advocates sitting around the same table, discussing social issues that concern them all.

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