By Dan Clement, President & CEO

Like many Canadians I have been reacting to the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.  It is shocking.  Yet, also distressingly familiar.  Not because this happened in the United States but because we have witnessed systemic racism and violence in our own communities across Canada.

Racism in Canada is unignorable and we need to acknowledge and tackle it. We cannot claim that things are different here.

This is an important moment in time.  As individuals, as communities, and as organizations dedicated to building strong communities we need to listen, learn and begin to challenge ourselves to work towards undoing the devastating effects of systemic racism in our communities.  And we need to acknowledge and become aware of our own biases.

These are easy words to say but harder to live.  Many of us have never felt the impact of systemic racism, me included.  As a white male the colour of my skin has never been an issue.  It has granted me the privilege to feel secure in my community and in my home, to be confident to seek access to the services I need for myself and my family, and to feel valued and trusted.  My experience is very different to that of so many in our communities.

The events of the past week remind us again that systemic racism is a form of violence.  It attacks directly and physically, and it attacks the very idea of equality and opportunity.  We see the effects of racism every day in our communities through the racialization of poverty that has taken hold over generations, and in the disproportionate health impact of COVID-19 on black, Indigenous, and other racialized communities.

The vision of United Way Centraide Canada is to live in communities where everyone has the opportunity to reach their full potential. We strive to eradicate poverty and social exclusion by bringing people together, creating opportunity for people to show love for their community, and by investing in the essential community services that help bridge the gap between potential and opportunity. We are committed to diversity as a core value, and we know we have much work  to do to ensure we are creating an inclusive world, that we are learning with and alongside our  communities, and that our staff and volunteers reflect the community we live in and love. We are committed to continuing this work – today and tomorrow.

Today we stand for hope, we stand for equity, and we stand as United Ways and Centraides in solidarity with all the people who live in Canada, our American neighbours and caring people across the world that are demonstrating for an end to anti-black racism and racism in all its forms.