Our Journey Towards Diversity and Inclusion
On our journey toward Diversity and Inclusion, we recognize it is not only the goal we want to achieve that matters. Rather, it is the approach we take, the decisions we make and the values that guide us on our way. In many ways, the goal IS the journey.
Any journey is comprised of steps or transitions along the way. Reflecting on the 2018-19 year, there were many influential transitions.
Large scale transitions include the formation of a new government for Ontario in June. Subsequently, a new Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services (Ministry) was created with oversight of many social services including child welfare.
The Child, Youth and Family Services Act (CYFSA) explicitly requires that all children’s aid societies (CASs) commit to the confrontation of racism and addressing systemic inequities. In response, our sector is implementing 11 Race Equity practices in our work with African Canadian families. We are honoring the 9 Commitments to Reconciliation with Indigenous communities. Both initiatives directly address the over representation of African Canadian and Indigenous children in the child welfare system.
Our Society committed to diversity and inclusion through our work with Annemarie Shrouder International. Beginning with a deeper look into the experiences of our staff, this work parallels the transitions of our children, youth and families toward positive and long-lasting change. Our Board of Directors developed a recruitment process designed to assist in having a Board that is representative of the community served by our Society.
“Power Up!” the first-ever African-Canadian Youth-in-Care Symposium, was held in July. The event focused on helping African-Canadian youth in care build knowledge of their collective past, present and future. Black youth in care and staff who attended reported feeling a sense of deep connection to each other and that sharing their experiences with one another was both cathartic and affirming.
In November, the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies hosted the first ever child welfare symposium for African Canadian staff. “All In!” was a supportive environment that allowed African Canadian staff to come together to share the common experiences and pain as African Canadian people working in Child Welfare. A common revelation was that the residual effects of colonialism continue to impact not only how child welfare services are delivered to African Canadian clients, but how colonialism impacts us as African Canadian employees. “All In!” was an opportunity to start conversations around our shared experiences and move forward in improving services to African Canadian families while taking care of ourselves in the process.”
In the fall of 2018, all new employees received training to understand the historical context and impact of colonization on Indigenous Peoples and the role of child welfare in the Residential School System and the ‘60s Scoop.
In September, our Society joined all other non-Indigenous CASs in the “Learning Together to Bring Indigenous Children Home” reconciliation event at Chippewas of Rama First Nation. We heard directly from Indigenous community members and leaders, their advice to ensure all Indigenous children and youth are connected to their communities.
In December, the Halton District School Board hosted the Human Rights Symposium, “Indigenous Realities,” educating community partners on Indigenous rights and the current realities of Indigenous Peoples. Society staff, along with more than 300 community partners, gathered for this important day led by First Nations, Inuit and Métis rights advocates, educators and artists.
Society staff received “Out and Proud” training through an interactive and dynamic workshop. Participants learned about the experiences of the LGBT2SQ+ children and youth we serve. It is intended to foster an informed, accepting environment where our children and youth experience a safe and positive space.
We are so very grateful our staff, caregivers, volunteers and community partners without whom there would be no journey. We would also like to thank Nancy MacGillivray who retired as Executive Director in August 2018. Nancy’s leadership of the Society and her belief in the bigger picture leave an ever-lasting impression on the Society and child welfare. Also, our sincere thanks goes to our Board for their courage, integrity and
commitment to the children, youth and families with whom we are privileged to work.
Emad Elsayed (Past Chair) Janice Robinson (Executive Director)