Leadership in 2021 is the title of this year’s Family Service Canada Community of Learning Conference. The event seeks to support leaders and create opportunities to discuss topics with national impact. At this year’s conference were exploring equity, diversity, and inclusion.
Like 2020, this year is poised to be a challenging year for leaders and brings opportunities for growth that can better support our communities and our teams. We hope to encourage and inspire each other to look at the year ahead with hope and optimism.
Last year, some of the most challenging moments inspired the most significant changes. When George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and others were killed, their deaths ignited protests and activism that have given momentum to explore and begin dismantling systemic racism in Canada.
Family Service agencies are embracing this movement and want to do better with those we serve and those we employ. For Leadership in 2021, Sacha Médiné (sachamedine.ca) agreed to speak about racially just leadership and how we can respond well to the protests throughout 2020.
Sacha is a Black counsellor, supervisor, and educator based in Vancouver, on unceded Coast Salish territories. His work and activism are focused on providing support and solidarity to individuals, communities and organizations impacted by, struggling for liberation from, or seeking to be accountable to their participation in systems of structural violence such as White Supremacy, Patriarchy, and Settler Colonialism.
Family Service agencies respond to a range of issues, most of which represented significant challenges to our communities in 2020. But almost all of them are shaped or exacerbated by racial inequality. From poverty to challenges with mental health, access to health care, and even clean water, Canada’s racialized populations experience the worst hardship in all of these issues.
Most non-profits have made progress towards greater diversity and inclusion in recent years. The protests in 2020 have motivated organizations to increase their efforts to evaluate and adjust policies and practices.
Like other businesses and sectors across Canada, increasing diversity at the executive and board level has been slow. In conversations with Family Service Canada members, leaders are not interested in making token changes that only create a façade of diversity. Their focus is to find and repair the underlying biases to address the problem, not just the symptom. The process of digging into histories, policies, and practices is slow work that is undoubtedly frustrating for those impacted.
We look forward to Sacha’s insight and encouragement to continue building racially just policies and practices as we balance timely change with meaningful action.
Equity is the fair and respectful treatment of all people.
Valuing diversity means that we recognize and respect everyone’s unique qualities and attributes.
Inclusion means that all individuals feel respected, accepted and valued.
How are Members Approaching Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion?
As part of every Community of Learning conference, we set aside a portion of our time to learn more about members’ unique and exciting initiatives relevant to the conference’s main topic. This year, we’re looking at examples of “Inclusive Leaders and Beacons of Hope in the Community.” Here are the presentations booked for Leadership in 2021:
F&ST Canada – Corinne Paulishyn, Emma Hamm & Salam Al Sayed, Family Dynamics Winnipeg, with Lauren Tafford, Community University Partnerships (CUPs)
Cultural Humility Framework – Dr. Edna Wakene The Family Centre of Northern Alberta
Financial Empowerment, Building Literacy & Eliminating Shame – Murray Baker, Family Services of Greater Vancouver
Reenergized Leadership in 2021
We’ve heard from members and other leaders just how challenging the past year has been. The work we do as non-profit leaders is rewarding, but it is not easy at the best of times. Leader’s increased effort to continue improving diversity and inclusion is crucial and complex. At the same time, COVID has made all of the work we do much harder. We are exhausted.
Family Service leaders have been guiding organizations and staff through rapid changes that required significant policy updates and adaptations. Overnight, our consideration for health and safety, technology, consent, and privacy needed to cover entirely new scenarios. Staff required direction and support to work in new ways with new technologies. We know the hard work is not over. Already on the horizon are questions about vaccine policies and returning to work. Many of us are also asking what our organization should look like now that we’ve seen how effective remote work can be.
To give us all a boost, we’ve invited Kendal Netmaker (www.kendalnetmaker.com) to speak with us. Kendal is one of Canada’s leading entrepreneurs and speakers. He’s also the author of Driven to Succeed.
Kendal is from Sweetgrass First Nation in Saskatchewan and shares his story as he speaks about leadership. We look forward to his perspectives on what it takes to refuel, recharge, and reenergize our resiliency.
The economic, social, and public health challenges facing Canada are significant, but there are also opportunities. As we guide our organizations and staff in responding to Canadians’ needs, we can take bold steps toward resolving some of the biggest issues facing our communities.
At Leadership in 2021, you’ll hear the encouraging perspectives of our speakers Sacha Médiné and Kendal Netmaker. You’ll also benefit from sharing stories and experiences with other leaders from similar organizations.
The virtual one-day conference is on Thursday, March 11, 2021, from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Pacific Standard Time. Leadership in 2021 is open to leaders in non-profit family and community services agencies.
A limited number of tickets are on sale until 8:00 p.m., March 10.