Feeling enraged but helpless at the problems of racism across Canada and the United States? You are not alone!
Many people want to get started “doing something” but they just don’t know where to start, and how to make sure their efforts are actually going to make a difference. Click To Tweet
In times of crisis leadership takes the form of getting informed quickly about the situation and then acting. In an emergency we can’t just wait for someone else to act yet taking the wrong action could make things worse which can feel paralyzing. Like many others who want to stop racism and support black people in their struggles for equality and justice, you may be wondering…
- Other than protesting, donating or signing a petition, what can I do – what could I do that would show support for #BlackLivesMatter?
- Where do I find organizations and activities to support #BLM over the long term?
- In Canada?
My answer to the first question is simple but requires some thought to get started.
Talk to people.
I know. Hard to imagine isn’t it? But talking to people who are black and meeting people in black organizations is an authentic, personal way to connect, listen, learn and become a friend. Find out from people who are living the black experience what their lives are like and how you can help in a way they would find useful. How to do this during Covid19 is to get onto Facebook and Instagram and connect with the individuals, groups and initiatives for BLM. That way you will find out firsthand who to connect with and you join the positive conversations in your own city.
Join your local BLM Facebook group and connect with people and activities.
There are BLM groups in every Canadian city or area. Facebook groups have posts by local people who have great local information and practical opportunities to help. Since I live in Alberta, here are a few in Edmonton and Calgary:
- A fight for equity
- Official discussion group for BLM Edmonton
- Black Lives Matter Edmonton
- Calgary supports BLM
Support local black businesses and organizations
Just to show you what I mean about this being practical, one Instagram and FB post by Cassey Prazer has images of black businesses, products, restaurants and services in Edmonton you can support.
Here are her images for Edmonton YEG black businesses on Instagram and FB:
Join a black organization working in an area that interests you and volunteer
You can also inform yourself about general Canadian black community initiatives, go their websites and find out what they are looking for in terms of support. Melanie Woods wrote a great starter list of black organizations across Canada with a variety of approaches, causes and activities. You can choose one to get to know by checking out her list –
Black Legal Action Centre (Ontario): a non-profit community legal clinic that provides free legal services for low or no income Black residents of Ontario.
Black in BC Community Support Fund for COVID-19 (B.C.): A fundraiser for a low-barrier, emergency, micro-grant program for Black people in B.C., who are experiencing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nia Centre for the Arts (Toronto): Canada’s first Black art centre, committed to fostering and promoting Black identity and community in Toronto through art.
Hogan’s Alley Society (Vancouver): A non-profit organization committed to researching, preserving and publicizing Black history in Vancouver and B.C.
Black Space Winnipeg (Winnipeg): Black Space Winnipeg is a grassroots organization that looks to “spread perspectives of Afrocentrism, and Pro-Black conversation, Black Space Winnipeg creates safe spaces for people of colour through hosting community events, artist demonstrations and workshops.”
Black Liberation Collective (various universities): Black Liberation Collectives are an international movement of students challenging anti-Black racism in post-secondary institutions The BLC began in Canada at Ryerson University and the University of Toronto in 2015.
Black Health Alliance: A community-led charity looking to reduce the racial disparities in health access and care in Canada, focusing on the broad determinants of health, including racism.
The Come Up (Edmonton): A youth collective focused on empowering Black youth in Edmonton through community events and organizing.
Black Youth Helpline (Canada-wide): Originally started in Manitoba, the Black Youth Helpline focuses on community development and support for Black youth across Canada.
Black Women In Motion (Toronto): A organization that support the advancement of Black women in Toronto through educational tools, economic opportunities and cultural content.
Inform yourself by reading Canadian black authors
Finally reading about the experience from the perspective of Canadian black authors can be another way to support because you will be more informed. Here is a list of a few black authors to start with.
- Policing Black Lives”by Robyn Maynard.
- The Skin We’re In”by Desmond Cole.
- “Blank: Essays and Interviews”by M. NourbeSe Philip.
- “In the Black” by B. Denham Jolly
- Daughters of Silence by Rebecca Fisseha
- How to be an antiracist by Ibram X Kendi
We certainly are living in a time of huge existential crisis. But one way to get calmer is to do something practical. So let’s just all choose one thing and get started. Building a racism-free world starts with one action by many people and grows from there.
Marie Gervais, PhD., CEO of Shift Management Inc., provides managerial training and workforce interpersonal development to business and industry through online courses and web coaching. She helps individuals and organizations build talent and skills for leadership, communication, and conflict resolution particularly at the supervisory and middle management level. Her work has gained a reputation for excellence in integration and inclusion of the diverse workforce. With her team at Shift Management, Dr Gervais helps clients reach their business goals through team building coaching and industry-specific training development for interpersonal leadership skills. Her impactful digital and multi-media resources have been successfully implemented with many different populations and contexts. The results prove that a learning workplace is a happy and profitable one!
Check out Marie’s podcast Culture and Leadership Connections on Apple Podcasts and on the Shift website to hear stories of leadership and all things cultural. Consider the signature Supervisory Leadership Certificate Course for upskilling your workforce at:
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