We believe that before we can demand better of others, we must demand better of ourselves.
The progressive sector is not immune to systemic inequities - in fact, we can be the most blind to our complicities! As organizations that stand for justice, there is a prolific problem of racial inequity in the non-profit sector. We hear and acknowledge that there is a need for us to critically reflect on equity and decolonization within genius/Next Up. We strongly desire to deepen and strengthen our equity and anti-oppression work, and we want to do this work in community, with you.
That is why we are working with two phenomenal leaders in transformative and inclusive organizational change: Natasha Aruliah and Parker Johnson. Natasha and Parker are leading a preliminary diversity, equity, and inclusion review of genius and Next Up. This is a starting place for the work we hope to do together. You can find their inspiring biographies below!
This work involves:
- Reviewing how Next Up has evolved over time in each of our program communities;
- Interviewing a cross-section of Vancouver alumni, program staff, Board, and stakeholders – asking critical questions about our understanding of and challenges to equity. I recognize that this is only a very small snapshot and we will work to expand opportunities for the network to engage with us;
- Reviewing our processes such as organizational systems, program content, recruitment, and evaluations from an equity-centred lens.
We are deeply committed to safe(er) spaces that allow for authentic dialogue and centre equity at the core of what we do; this initial review is just the start of our work together! I will be looking to our national network to help us develop action plans, convene dialogues on systemic injustice and colonial harm in movements, and help us focus our equity and anti-oppression lenses. We will always feel as though there isn't enough time or money to do our best work but we can't wait until the timing is perfect; this is too urgent to wait, yet too vital to rush. This reflective work will take time, some tough love, and a lot of patience.
If you have any questions about this process or what’s coming up next, please reach out to me at [email protected]. I look forward to learning and growing in this work together.
- Selena Gignac
Natasha Aruliah identifies as a racialised immigrant settler, who currently lives and works on the unceded and traditional territories of the sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh), and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) nations. Originally trained as a psychologist, she worked as a therapist in healthcare, education and community service settings, with a variety of marginalised communities. This work lead her to working with the systems and structures that cause harm, inequity and injustice to effect change. She now works as a facilitator, consultant, educator and coach, specialising in diversity, equity, inclusion, social justice and transformative change for both individuals and organisations, in the UK, Europe, USA and Canada. She has worked with government, union, non-profit, community and corporate organisations, specifically in education, healthcare, public policy, community services and the environment.
Parker Johnson is an African American man working in the field of prevention of harassment and discrimination, workplace equity and inclusion, and organizational change. He holds a MEd in higher education administration, planning and policy from Harvard University. Also Parker worked in the US in higher education student services focusing on diversity, equity and inclusion for 19 years before moving to Canada in 2002. He has taught courses in education, intercultural communication and cultural studies. For the past few years, he has been a facilitator on social justice issues with the Inner Activist Program. Parker also enjoys time with family and friends, traveling, journaling, and reading speculative fiction.