Dear colleagues,

In my new role as Chair of Community Foundations of Canada, I am reaching out as many of us are collectively processing feelings of pain, grief, anger and activation as a result of the horrific death of George Floyd, recent events in the U.S as well as in communities across Canada — which demonstrate the harmful effects of systemic racism (and its symptoms) on our communities right here at home and around the world.

To our colleagues, volunteers and network members from the Black community, we acknowledge the emotional and mental strain that you are facing during this time. As a first generation Canadian, I stand with you. The CFC team stands with you.

As a network, we haven’t specifically named anti-Black racism in our work. We should. 

Clearly, it is pervasive in our communities. Earlier this week, we heard from Black leaders who told us that too often, they’ve felt unseen, unheard, overlooked and like they “just don’t belong” in the community foundation network. If you weren’t able to tune into this webinar, I strongly encourage you to spend 45 minutes listening to it. I also encourage you to learn more about these organizations’ work (we’ve included the links below), and support Black-led organizations in your communities. We need to continue to reduce barriers to funding, increase our outreach and evolve our equity strategies such that we better reflect and represent all communities as we pursue belonging.

The community foundation network has only very recently begun a collective learning journey around racial inequality. Much more work is required for us to be better allies to Black, Indigenous and People of Colour.

Indigenous leader Edgar Villanueva repeated this point at the 2019 Community Foundations Conference: as philanthropists, we need to seriously reflect on the ways we can shift power, decolonize our wealth and challenge the privilege upon which our organizations are founded. 

The road ahead requires resolve and I’m mindful of Marcus Walton’s wise words that “hope is not a strategy.” Rather, a collective generational commitment and a responsive philanthropic strategy are required. The CFC team is reflecting on this deeply and committed to taking steps. Thank you to all the foundations who have spoken out this week and begun exploring ways you can engage differently. Many are taking equity further into account as they navigate the Emergency Community Support Fund. We need to be persistent and thoughtful, help one another and hold each other accountable. As Chair, my resolve is greater than ever and I look forward to working with community foundations, the Board of Directors and the CFC team to truly, relentlessly pursue a future where everyone belongs. 

With care,

Rasool Rayani 
Chair, Community Foundations of Canada 

Additional resources 

The organizations who generously shared their time and expertise with us earlier this week in the context of COVID-19 and the Black Community Webinar 

Other national Black-led organizations (We also encourage you to learn more and find ways to support Black-led organizations in your local community or area)