We stand in solidarity with the protests and the growing fight for justice against anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism and the wider racial justice action in Vancouver and cities around the world.
Our work with students, faculty and City staff, between cities and post secondaries places us at the heart of our largest public institutions, where we are in full support of Black Lives Matter and anti-racism movements. We have taken time to reflect as an organization and individually, and it is abundantly clear that we have an urgent responsibility to act and create the change we all need, starting with changing ourselves.
We have grown up and continue to live in a racist system, which is perpetuated with disproportionate access to power, health, wealth, education and land.
Throughout our 10 years as an organization we recognize our privilege having benefited from the work of BIPOC collaborators, including BIPOC students, faculty, city staff, community organizations and leaders. As we look to find the right ways to address systemic discrimination in our work, we launched a JEDDI committee at our April board meeting to inform the centralization of justice, equity, diversity, decolonization and inclusion.
We are committed to better supporting collaborators, partners and staff members through the continued eradication of white supremacy, and by identifying our gaps in offering sustainable support, space, and solidarity to people within the BIPOC communities. The values and principles that have guided our work and Manifesto throughout the years now emerge as vital: we have deep trust in the process of dialogue, curiosity, collaboration, empathy, openness to understand and tackle global issues by focusing on the local first. As a start to embedding permanent change in our mission, CityStudio commits immediately to the following five actions:
First, we will provide staff with the necessary space and time for anti-racism training, as well as learning how to dismantle the systemic conditions that have provided benefits and unearned privilege for some, but not all.
Second, we will be changing our hiring, onboarding, and retention processes to align with the learnings from our JEDDI committee. In the coming weeks CityStudio will be hiring for three new positions with a process that is active and inclusive, searching in new and diverse places for the skill, talent and experience that will help us create a just future together.
Third, projects are the centre of our work. As we develop project opportunities between the City of Vancouver and post secondaries, and as we build and support the network of CityStudios across Canada and the world, we commit to formalizing the process of prioritizing and advocating for justice and equity in all projects.
Starting immediately we will be supporting the students in applying an equity lens to their research and recommendations in the following ways: (i) share a reading list to contextualize the work of the COV Equity Committee; (ii) ask the city staff lead to speak to the equity implications and challenges specific to their work and the topic of the project; (iii) discussing with faculty members how to include an equity lens in their course, and supporting them with the learnings and experiences of other collaborators.
Fourth, with our communications and storytelling we will act as an anti-racist organization, moving beyond simply being not-racist. We are consciously redesigning our strategies to give way for diverse voices and stories, and develop a rooted and continuous equity process.
Leadership and Governance
Fifth, we are currently recruiting for staff positions and new directors. We commit equally to an inclusive and active search to diverse voices, culture, and experience.
These five organizational commitments to our JEDDI goals will now be included in the performance review framework for the CityStudio Vancouver Society.
The path forward, though at times turbulent and challenging, is absolutely necessary and our commitment is firm to create safe and inclusive spaces for all co-creators, stakeholders, and friends. Our team looks to develop our ability to collaborate and facilitate in a meaningful and respectful way across varying differences.
In the coming weeks we will report on our activities and actions as we step outside of our comfort zones on this path towards a more sustainable, liveable, joyful and inclusive Vancouver.
CityStudio Vancouver Society Staff & Board of Directors