The year 2020 was a year underpinned by a fast and necessarily furious learning curve. The COVID-19 pandemic has shone a spotlight on existing inequities and tested the fabric of society, illustrating how deeply those communities already experiencing vulnerability require more resources. Not only for us at Community Foundations of Canada, but for our entire network of community foundations from coast to coast to coast. Together we’ve gone deeper than ever before: through our Equity Lightning Talks for the Emergency Community Support Fund; to the Gender Equality National Vital Signs report; and the release of the Unfunded report by the Network for the Advancement of Black Communities.
We are looking forward to what 2021 has in store, and looking ahead towards recovery and building back better. More than just through awareness and education, but taking concrete steps to shift power and strengthen community. Community foundations are diverse in size and location, some have 20+ staff, some are entirely volunteer run.
Community foundations leaders have published a series of blogs sharing their ‘New Year’s Equity Resolutions’. Our favourite quotes are included below, and we hope that you will read more about their learning in 2020, and plans for 2021.
“This is about the larger conversations: how we treat each other; how we should treat each other; and what the hidden barriers are, that have been created over time, that can be broken. Discussing these now will help to build a more just and inclusive society.”
— Gaylene Weidlich, Executive Director, Wood Buffalo Community Foundation. Read the full blog on LinkedIn.
“A diversity, equity and inclusion program (DEI) had been part of our pre-pandemic plan, but the pressures of the moment put this critical work to the side. What we failed to fully realize was that it’s not just what you do but how you do it that matters. While we felt that our motives were solid we had not truly looked in the mirror. And this goes for my leadership too. How can a predominantly white-led organization truly take on racial justice? How can we do this work without acknowledging the inevitable biases we bring?”
— Sharon Avery, President & CEO, Toronto Foundation. Read the full blog on LinkedIn.
“At the Foundation of Greater Montreal (FGM), our team is reflecting deeply about how to change our granting criteria and selection process to reach these unfunded and underfunded groups. We recognize that this implies listening actively and heartfully to the communities we aim to serve, and involving diverse stakeholders in appropriate and meaningful ways in the development of our programs and in the selection of organizations to be funded. This entails a fundamental shift in power.”
— Tasha Lackman, Vice President of Philanthropy & Community, Foundation of Greater Montréal. Read the full blog on LinkedIn
“If we hope to serve all of Edmonton’s communities well, we must involve equity strategy at every level of our work. Our position in the community affords us various forms of power, such as capital, networks and influence. This means our commitment to equity must be explicit and absolute. By amplifying community power and voices, we help transcend barriers and allow groups to reach their full potential.”
— Nneka Otogbolu, Director of Communications and Equity Strategy, Edmonton Community Foundation. Read the full blog.
“In 2020, the Victoria Foundation continued to build on our ongoing work to foster equity, diversity, and inclusion in our community, distributing more than $10 million through our granting calls using an equity lens to respond to the crisis. We launched a suite of cause-based funds that highlighted gender equity as well as racial equity to engage donors in learning and giving on these issues. We recognize that in 2021 we are still at the beginning of our work on equity. The time calls on us to act boldly.”
— Carol Hall, Director of Strategic Initiatives, Victoria Foundation. Read the full blog on LinkedIn.