From the desk of CHF BC’s Chief Executive Officer
It is fitting that the province of BC has declared this week, May 23-29, 2021, Anti-Racism Awareness Week, in part to mark the anniversaries of the Komagata Maru, the murder of George Floyd, and Asian Heritage Month.
A year ago this week, we watched in horror as an unarmed Black man was murdered by a Minneapolis police officer. This has undoubtedly been a year of reckoning as the world struggles to understand and learn the right lessons from this tragedy.
Many took inspiration from Black Lives Matter protests that emerged in response to George Floyd’s murder – not just in North America but around the world. We need to ask what’s next if we truly want to move the dial in the direction of racial equity. A meaningful collective response will begin with some honest reflection on who we are and a good look at the values we see reflected in our own communities.
At our recent semi-annual meeting, CHF BC’s member co-ops unanimously called on us to help them identify and work to remove barriers to equity, diversity, and inclusion in their communities. They want CHF BC to inspire and support housing co-ops in having courageous conversations with their members on how co-op communities can promote and embody equitable access, opportunity, respect, and a sense of belonging for everyone.
Co-ops are products of their members’ vision and the communities they spring from. Are we bold enough to ask if our co-ops are immune to practices grounded in systemic racism? Can we say with confidence that the way we choose our members, elect our directors, hire our staff, and govern our communities is free from bias, inequity and exclusion?
We encourage you not to forget the events of that fateful day last year, and to join us in a renewed commitment to equity and inclusion for all citizens. We all want housing co-ops to be communities where every member feels like they belong. We will be working hard to support you on that journey with the tools and resources you need to move from thought to action. Will you join us?
Thom Armstrong, CEO
Co-operative Housing Federation of BC
Community Land Trust Foundation
COHO Management Services