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CEO Update | April 2022


Read our latest CEO Update, as originally published in our Spring 2022 newsletter.

Spring has always been the most unpredictable season for me.  This March was no exception; after two years of dodging COVID, the virus hit nearly every member of my immediate family. And it all started with my friends. I hosted a dinner. After all, every one of us is vaccinated, I had an air filter, and an open screen door. So, we took off our masks. By the end of the weekend, 9 out of 11 of us had COVID.

sadia zamanIt was a calculated risk as we prioritized the vaccination status of friends, while ignoring other factors in the bigger ecosystem of COVID transmission.

This bigger picture thinking around systems is also central to our work at the Foundation. In the past few months, my colleague Chris Lee and I have absorbed feedback from our initial stakeholder evaluation, and grappled with a tension around how to affect systems change as a small foundation. We are moving away from direct content production to building infrastructure and ecosystems that support folks in our sectors. How do our grantee partners see their work under this lens? Is it fair to expect systems to change without long-term core funding?  What is our role in affecting that change, as a funder, and as a participant in many intersecting systems?

These are big questions, and we have slowly begun to articulate our thoughts about them on our website. These questions have also framed our granting programs, and they now reflect a variety of tactics, including research, advocacy, and operational funding needed to ensure that we are looking at interventions that consider whole systems. You’ll also find a renewed focus on pluralism—the creation of equitable conditions for everyone to be engaged and represented. But as well, there are some familiar priorities that will continue to guide us: support for Indigenous narrative sovereignty and combatting Islamophobia through the amplification of Muslim-led narratives. The work is evolving in new and exciting ways, and we are expanding our team.

In this newsletter, you will also see an update on our Narrative Change Lab. It has required significant work to get to where we are, that is, ready to host the first cohort of Muslim content creators and practitioners to focus solely on narrative change in Canada.

In impact investing, our portfolio had a relatively rough 2021 as fossil fuels did well. Inspirit does not hold fossil fuels; instead, we are focused on clean energy and other impactful sectors. You can read more about our 2021 investment performance here. The past year was merely 12 months in a successful seven-year journey as documented by Future of Good.

Even as I tell myself that dinner with my friends was a calculated risk, I know deep down it was more self-delusion, this letting down our guard despite science.  All of us at that dinner were blinded by what we had sacrificed during the pandemic, so blinded that we couldn’t see the obvious.


Sadia Zaman, CEO