In 2020, Oxfam Canada was jolted into action by the Black Lives Matter movement. We are inspired by the many formidable women around the world who are leading the charge for racial justice and, to be true to our mission, we acknowledge that we need to become an actively anti-racist organization.
Over the past year, Oxfam Canada has strengthened our commitments to advance anti-racism, diversity, equity and inclusion in our culture, structure, policies, systems, programs, advocacy, campaigning and outreach work. Growing as an anti-racist, feminist and inclusive organization is a key priority in our Oxfam Canada Strategic Framework 2021-25, and we are working to root out and address racism and white supremacy.
We have created a new Plan of Action on Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, focusing on three main areas:
- Organizational strategy, internal culture, policies and systems
- Ongoing learning and dialogue
- Increasing our understanding of and applying intersectional and anti-racism approaches to our programming, outreach and advocacy
What does this mean in practice? It means that over the next year, Oxfam Canada will:
- Conduct a listening and reflection process that focuses on listening to current and past Oxfam Canada staff and seeks to help us understand our current shortfalls and challenges on anti-racism, justice, equity, diversity and inclusion. This will be facilitated by external consultants.
- Complete a review of our internal policies using an anti-racism, justice, equity, diversity and inclusion lens, then strengthen and update them.
- Complete a review of staff and board recruitment professional development practices and management practices from an anti-racism, justice, equity, diversity and inclusion perspective and act on the recommendations.
- Integrate anti-racism, justice, equity, diversity and inclusion goals into the performance management process for each staff member, including senior management.
- Develop and institute a training, learning, coaching and dialogue plan on anti-racism, anti-oppression, diversity, equity and inclusion for all staff and the board.
- Develop a framework for measuring and reporting on our anti-racism and decolonization work to determine how well it is progressing and where it might be stuck or at a standstill.
- Create anti-racism and anti-oppression principles for Oxfam Canada, which will guide our work like our feminist principles do.
- Deepen relationships with anti-racism movements and Black women’s movements within our national influencing work and global programs.
- Strengthen our race-based analysis as part of our programming, advocacy and influencing work to bring a truly intersectional feminist lens to our work.
- Put thoughtful attention into the content decisions that we make for our public channels, using a justice, equity, diversity and inclusion lens and considering the importance of visibility and solidarity.
While the whole organization is committed to this work, the Executive Director and the Senior Management Team are ultimately accountable for delivering on it. They will be guided by Oxfam Canada’s Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Working Group, which includes staff at all levels of the organization, and the expert advice of external consultants.
As part of our ongoing work on justice, equity, diversity and inclusion, we are also making organizational commitments to reconciliation. We are in a moment of reckoning for Canada, as the traumatic impacts of colonization on Indigenous people – both past and present – continue to be revealed through the murder and abuse of indigenous women and girls and the unearthing of mass graves at residential schools. As an organization, we have read and discussed the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. We are talking about what it means for settlers in Canada and the work of Oxfam Canada. We recognize we must learn, unlearn and reflect on Canada’s ongoing genocide. We are committed to decolonizing our work and supporting reflective learning by staff. While we recognize the interconnections between our anti-racism work and our reconciliation work, we are developing a separate Reconciliation Action Plan, led by the Executive Director and supported by our Reconciliation Working Group. We have devoted separate resources to this work.
We want to be transparent about this journey, letting our supporters and allies know about the progress we’re making, but also acknowledging our setbacks and shortcomings. We recognize that this is long, hard and complex work that requires sustained commitment and resources to ensure that the changes we implement are meaningful.
Colonialism and racism – which are rooted in white supremacy – stand in direct opposition to Oxfam’s vision of a fair and just world. We are sincere in our commitments and want to be transparent and accountable. In that spirit, we will publish an update on our progress and learning annually (read our 2021 update here).