Encouraging Belonging in CCOC Engagement Spaces: Anti-racist Organizational Change

Encouraging Belonging in CCOC Engagement Spaces: Anti-racist Organizational Change

In 2022, we shared a post about Anti-racist Organizational Change (AROC) at CCOC. We shared how the Board of Directors, Department Directors, and CCOC staff had become engaged in this work.

One of the gaps we had identified at the time was that committee volunteers were missing from our AROC work. We introduced our Anti-Oppression statement to open and close board and committee meetings in 2019, however committee members had not necessarily been given the knowledge or resources to help us uphold the statement in our meetings. We would like to share some updates on how we have begun to fill that gap through our AROC work this past year!

Transforming Tenant Engagement

In 2022, we shared that the Tenant and Community Engagement (TCE) Department has been working to transform tenant engagement opportunities by identifying and dismantling barriers to participation. Much of this work has been supported by a 3-year grant from the Community Housing Transformation Centre (CHTC). This projectwas designed to build capacity with tenants around housing decisions and responsibilities; increase tenant participation in housing-related decisions and projects; and increase representation and belonging in CCOC engagement spaces.

2023 is the final year of the grant, so we have been working hard to launch additional support materials for volunteers, and staff who support committees, increase accessibility of volunteer opportunities, and provide staff and volunteers with anti-oppression training opportunities. These anti-oppression training opportunities were designed to bring committee volunteers into our AROC work and help build belonging in CCOC committee spaces.

Anti-Oppression Trainings

This fall, we partnered with Connect2Knowledge to offer two training sessions, as well as an on-demand course. The on-demand course was available for many staff and all volunteers to complete. It was designed to provide folks with foundational knowledge on the basics of racism, anti-racism and privilege, and encourage reflection on the visible and invisible forms of oppression that exist in many shared spaces. It covered topics such as racism, anti-racism, intersectionality, microaggressions, and privilege. Importantly, it also discussed ways to interrupt racism, which provided an important foundation for staff and volunteer discussions about the “shared accountability method” in their trainings.

The first in-person training session on leading inclusive meetings gave CCOC staff who support committees and committee chairs the opportunity to learn about emotional intelligence, inclusive facilitation, and strategies to interrupt and address instances of racism and oppression. Staff and chairs had some great, in-depth conversations about how to apply these strategies in the context of committee meetings.

We were also excited to offer all committee and Board volunteers a ‘participating in inclusive meetings’ training. The training introduced volunteers to key terms and concepts, forms of empathy and emotional intelligence, and strategies for growing allyship.  We are hopeful that volunteers will take this knowledge and use it to help create inclusive committee spaces, make decisions using an anti-oppressive lens, and further their own learning outside of the committee space.

Both the staff and volunteer trainings introduced us to the “shared accountability method,” which will help everyone around the committee table to respond to instances of racism and oppression. This method places the responsibility for interrupting instances of oppression, on everyone around the committee table. The method also provides guidelines for responding if you receive feedback that one of your actions has been harmful. If all committee members agree to use the shared accountability method, we can ensure our committee meetings are more inclusive spaces, by creating an environment where instances of harm are interrupted in the moment. It also creates an expectation that folks learn from their mistakes and don’t repeat the behaviour.

Looking to the Future

We have lots more work ahead of us and are thankful for the committee members who are joining us on this journey. We are committed to continuing these conversations in committee meetings in the new year and with further opportunities for training and reflection in 2024.

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