17 May 2017
Community Foundations of Canada’s 2017 conference delivered a strong message that community foundations everywhere have the responsibility and the ability to be change-makers in bringing about tolerance, reconciliation, and a better life for those in our communities who do not have the same opportunities to create their own Good Life.
Based on the conference theme “Belong 2017”, powerful presentations from a number of community leaders in Canada reinforced how important a strong sense of belonging is if we are to have healthy, inclusive communities. We all have an inherent desire to belong, but there are many who are still trying to find their place – even those who were born here but whose racial, religious, sexual or cultural identity doesn’t necessarily comply with what many in our country would consider to be “us”.
The answers have to come from community.
Diversity brings richness to society, so we should all encourage and celebrate diversity. This is particularly evident when it comes to the way we treat immigrants – the word “integration” is often used, but integration implies “you must change to be like us”. When we don’t embrace and celebrate other cultures, we imply that their intelligence is less valid and they are inferior in some way. Let’s open our communities to allow everyone to shine in their own way – we can all be changemakers simply by the way we treat every person we encounter.
There are many parallels between Canada, where there were and continue to be significant injustices done to their First Nations people, and New Zealand. Whilst we might like to think that New Zealand has made great progress in our own reconciliation pathway, the statistics on crime, incarceration, unemployment and education outcomes suggest otherwise – we cannot afford to take our eye off the end game.
Community Foundations can make a difference by encouraging community dialogue on these issues, and taking leadership when it comes to building strong, caring communities where we are all equal.