Many of us are uninvited settlers currently occupying the unceded territories of Indigenous peoples. It is important to recognize the historical and ongoing colonization against Indigenous peoples that make it possible for us to be here as settlers. As settlers doing equity work, we have a responsibility to unpack the ways colonization exists in our communities and systems. To start to understand how to commit to this work, here are resources that you can go over with staff and board of directors:
The 4R’S Youth Movement has many other resources and tools compiled by youth for further reading.
Oppression is the use of power to disempower, marginalize, silence or otherwise subordinate one social group or category, often in order to further empower and/or privilege the oppressor. It is our responsibility as those defining the social innovation system to understand how oppression operates within our spaces.
Have an honest conversation with your colleagues and discuss what the biases that we hold that perpetuates white supremacy culture. It’s important to understand that white supremacy is also subtle and complex. As people who hold power in different spaces we have the responsibility to dismantle white supremacy in honest and brave ways. Here are some resources to get started.
When you attend a future conference or learning opportunity, connect with Indigenous and youth of colour/organizations and sponsor youth who can otherwise not attend, to attend with you. The next important step is to have conversations with youth and other participants to discuss and understand how spaces are designed to exclude youth, even if they are included. Ask them questions and learn from them:
How do youth feel being in spaces such as this?
Why were they invited, while others are not? What is the system in place that perpetuates this?
How are spaces of learning designed by adults disrupted when youth participate?
What can be done in these spaces to ensure that youth are welcomed, valued, and heard, rather than tokenized?
Cherish these conversations and understand the work that you need to do to ensure that youth are included in this sector in ways that are equitable and powerful. Use these opportunities to develop pathways beyond the conference space to allow for youth to see themselves in the wider social innovation practice.
I call upon the participants of CONVERGE to increase support Indigenous youth and youth of colour so that they have meaningful and dignifying opportunities to seek solutions to the complex problems we work to solve.
Include at least 2 youth in steering committees, boards, and funding/decision making models and compensate them for their time and contributions.
Include Indigenous youth and youth of colour in social innovation processes and labs and compensate them for their time and contributions.
Bring in a racial equity lens through granting and procurement models.
Fund, invest and support projects led by Indigenous youth and youth of colour that lead Truth and Reconciliation and anti-oppression work.
Written by Kiri Bird, Associate Director RADIUS SFU
RADIUS and our leadership team have taken small steps and we are exploring further opportunities to centre a stronger racial equity and decolonization lens in our own processes and structures. So far this has included:
Allocating a new, dedicated personal professional development budget to all staff to pursue a training of their choosing to support them to help integrate these principles in their work.
Developing dedicated budgets for people of colour on our team to allocate towards mentorship and guidance from solidarity communities.
In interviewing processes, explicitly naming our intentions to advance racial equity and decolonization work within our organization, and evaluating candidates’ readiness to engage meaningfully in these discussions.
Re-orienting team wide professional development planning and funding to prioritize this work, including engaging outside supports in helping diagnose and develop points of action and process for improving policies, practices and structures.
Evaluating of the physical spaces we work in and curate to understand what will help create a safe, supported and welcoming environment and community.
Building room into team and organizational development processes to continue to revisit this as a top organizational development priority.