In the not-for-profit world, there is often a mismatch between ambitious goals and modest means, and this certainly applies to Inspirit. I was privileged to serve on Inspirit’s Board of Directors as the organization struggled to understand more deeply its mandate to create a more inclusive society in Canada, to develop practical strategies to fulfill that mission, and to learn – sometimes painfully – that this necessarily involves a profound transformation of structures, systems, attitudes and behaviours, not just “out there” but within Inspirit as an organization and among those of us in leadership roles.
In 2015, Inspirit selected two priority areas of work, racism directed at Muslims in Canada and entrenched colonial attitudes toward Indigenous peoples. Since then, violence directed against both communities, and others, sometimes deliberate and deadly and sometimes the casual violence of institutionalized racism, has brought home to many Canadians how far we are from our ideals of diversity and acceptance. But perhaps it took a pandemic to make us realize not just that injustices and vulnerability are ingrained in our society, but that inequity creates vulnerability – and that affects all of us.
Now we know both the necessity and the difficulty of decolonizing our thinking and our structures, and we can never again choose to un-know. It is time for action, and in that, I am confident that Inspirit will be an ally and a catalyst.