Strides Toronto shares the pain and sadness on the minds of the communities we serve right now. In the middle of an already difficult pandemic, the events of the past weeks have increased talk about anti-Black racism and reminded us that this ugly issue is everywhere in our communities, our systems and ourselves. While the deaths of Regis Korchinski-Paquet and George Floyd grab the headlines, our staff know very well that the Black youth and families we serve are affected by the same racism, violence and exclusion every day. It is not enough to pay attention to it only when we see it in the headlines.
We believe that the Black community should not have to raise their voices alone. The fight belongs to all of us who care about safety, inclusion and equality, and we must all do more to show others we care about these values.
As a community member recently said, racism isn’t always a knee on a neck or the N-word. It’s an attack of a thousand little cuts that may not bleed or be seen by others but cause pain and damage just the same. It is not enough for people with privilege to not be racist, we must be actively pro-Black and actively work to change the racism and oppression that surrounds us.
As an organization that works to help our communities thrive, Strides Toronto staff can help make change possible by actively supporting and celebrating Blackness. We can and will help our clients who are feeling more anxiety, stress and sadness right now to know that they have active, dedicated allies in us, as well as a place to feel safe, heard and understood.
Our words are not enough. We may not always get our actions right, but we promise to try to do better and be active allies. We have plans to train all Strides Toronto staff to understand and speak out against anti-Black racism so that we can be better as an organization and as a sector that supports children, youth and families living with the impact of racism on mental health. When we merged in January, Aisling Discoveries and East Metro Youth Services both had strong commitments to diversity and inclusion. Together as Strides Toronto, we keep that commitment and will strive to be champions of change and action on racism against people of colour—because the issue won’t go away just because the headlines do.
I welcome ideas from members of our community about how we can do better as an agency. Please share your thoughts with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CEO, Strides Toronto