Racism, Inclusion, and Diversity
October 26, 2020
Over the past few months, you’ve probably noticed that we haven’t posted much on our social media accounts.
In fact, we as Envision Canada haven’t posted anything since Blackout Tuesday back in early June of this year, which was a response to the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement protesting racism against Black people. The reason for that is because as a team, we felt that it was important to pause and bring to light issues of systemic racism, discrimination and injustice in the areas that we serve.
What began as a pause, has launched us into a series of hard conversations in our offices and with our wider Alliance family. And we believe what has emerged from these conversations are the beginnings of an important moment for us as Envision Canada and our denominational family.
We have committed ourselves to pursue the issues of racism, diversity and inclusion, alongside our roles with Envision, because it impacts all facets of our lives and ministries.
We desire Envision Canada to be a key resource for young leaders on how to engage in these difficult conversations. We see this as a high priority for this generation of emerging leaders and are responding by creating ways for healthy dialogue and growth aligned to kingdom values of equity and equality for all.
We recognize bringing change of any kind requires taking a series of difficult steps. Some of us are unaware that systemic racism even exists in Canada let alone in our churches, and walking through this will feel like we’re dealing with a problem that’s not even there.
So why even go there?
It’s true, many of us are only now becoming aware that systemic racism exists in Canada, we’re learning to overcome our biases in the ways we approach ministry or missions, and we’re recognizing that we need to a better job of embracing diversity, not just for the sake of diversity, but because we are believers of wholistic Gospel truth expressed fully in word and action.
While we know issues of systemic racism and ethnocentrism will not be solved overnight, we are hopeful that both we, and our wider denomination as the Alliance in Canada will evaluate and make progress on the areas where we can do better. In the next months, you will hear about some of our own learnings in this area as we move forward, as well as gain access to resources that have been created and curated to offer you and your church ways to begin or continue having these important conversations. In the weeks and months to come, you will hear stories, teaching, exercises and applications for your own self reflection, but also to discuss with those around you. We would invite you to express your thoughts, your learnings, your needs and ideas by commenting below as a way to engage with us.
And for those of you who are struggling to have these conversations at your churches, schools or workplaces, please know this:
you are not alone, and you are not without support.
We ask for your prayers as we serve our denominational family, and we are praying for you as you boldly and graciously invite others into this topic. If you’ve been trying to lead or deal with this issue for many years, and you’re feeling weary and frustrated at some of the inactions, we feel for you. This is a season where patience will be key as we enter into these discussions.
// SOME Q & As //
Are you using the terms diversity and inclusion at a broad level?
Yes, while we are talking about issues of race, ethnicity, and cultural bias, we are using those terms specifically to prepare us for the future as these terms also relate to gender, accessibility, and more. The purpose is to help prepare our emerging leaders in becoming better aware of these dynamics which are constantly at play. If we strive to equip ourselves on how to serve cross-culturally both in local and global contexts, then these areas are crucial in our development, especially as followers of Jesus.
How does this add to what Envision Canada is currently doing?
We are in some trying times where not everyone accepts that systemic racism or exclusion exists, especially in Canada and particularly when presented indirectly. Barriers of inequity and inequality continue to be a felt reality, and if we believe that these are sin, and deeply rooted in all of us, then we must ask the Holy Spirit to bring us into greater awareness, acknowledgement, lament, repentance and hopefully, reconciliation. We can't force anyone to go through this process. Studies (1) have shown that training on diversity and inclusion should be voluntary and not mandatory for sustaining results. We do hope that our work on these issues will speak to you and spur you forward.
Will Envision Canada have resources available to use at our churches, in our small groups, or even with our friends?
We're learning as we go. We've already been given the privilege to initiate conversations with our wider staff and with our denominational leadership. This is only the beginning and while there are ample resources from an American perspective on systemic racism, we recognize that there is a lack of resources from a Canadian perspective specific to our context. As a result, we've been gathering voices in Canada who have previously spoken to these issues to create and curate resources in the months to come. Stay tuned!
// WORKS CITED //
- Dobbin F, Kalev A. Why Diversity Programs Fail [Internet]. Harvard Business Review. 2016 [cited 16 October 2020]. Available from: https://hbr.org/2016/07/why-diversity-programs-fail