Learning from AROC

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We have been undertaking Anti-Racist Organizational Change (AROC) at CommunityWise since March 2016.  During this time, we’ve worked through a consultative and emergent process to better understand and define organizational racism as well as develop and implement strategies to create greater racial equity in our nonprofit organization.

While the process of AROC and the goal of creating greater racial equity is a constant and evolving one, we’ve developed some tools and resources that shed light on the process we are undertaking and that may help others do the same.

Note: These resources share some but not all of the challenges CommunityWise has faced, and they don’t necessarily reflect the difficulty we’ve experienced along the way. Anti-racism work is not as simple as applying resources “off the shelf”. It is a long-term commitment that requires a lot of self-reflection and learning. It also invites a great deal of discomfort. But it is only from this discomfort that change can actually occur.

You are welcome to use and share our resources as per the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (*with the exception of the Sovereign Spirits Visual Illustration)

Sovereign Spirits Visual Facilitation Illustration

In March 2021, CommunityWise met with members of Sovereign Spirits, a grassroots organization created to support Two-Spirit & Indigiqueer Folx in the Treaty 7 area, as part of CommunityWise’s Addressing Racism in the Nonprofit Sector project. 

The focus of the conversation was to get a better understanding of how anti-Indigenous racism, homophobia, transphobia, and other forms of systemic discrimination intersect to create both the need for a group like Sovereign Spirits to exist and barriers to achieving their goals.

Through the work of artist S.O. Nault, this visual facilitation illustration was created to tie together themes of the conversation to showcase the celebrations and challenges of this work, as well as ways in which non-profit organizations can better understand their complicity in, and solutions to, anti-Indigenous racism within the sector.

CommunityWise acknowledges the support of this project by the Department of Canadian Heritage through the Community Support, Multiculturalism, and Anti-Racism Initiatives Program.

*Important note: this illustration may be shared with attribution and with no modifications made to it. No profit is to be made through its use.

Tools for AROC Training (video)

In March 2021, CommunityWise hosted a “Tools for Anti-Racist Organizational Change” training for several non-profit organizations in Calgary in collaboration with the Black Leadership Alliance Council (BLAC). The recording is now available. Please note that the live training contained facilitated breakout room components that were intentionally not recorded.

Do-It-Yourself AROC Tools

Use this tool to have an honest conversation about how ready your organization might be to start addressing racism within the organization itself. Where are you now? And what would it take to become more Principled? (click image to access full tool)

After publishing our initial AROC Resource Booklets (below), we heard from many nonprofits who want to start their own anti-racist organizational change process. This fillable tool can support your organization as you begin or continue your work. It guides you through creating a self-assessment. This can prompt deeper conversations about where racism lives in your organization and how to address it. (click image to access full tool)

AROC Resource Booklets

In our first resource booklet, we share ideas, group activities, sample documents, frameworks, policy tools and other resources we have both used and developed in the first phase of AROC at CommunityWise.

AROC: Resources and Tools for Nonprofits (print version)

AROC: Resources and Tools for Nonprofits (web version)

AROC: Resources and Tools for Nonprofits Appendix (print version)

AROC: Resources and Tools for Nonprofits Appendix (web version)

Our second resource booklet is a companion to the first and shares tools and resources from our second phase of AROC, including our emerging Theory of Change, stories that surfaced through evaluation, and the several ways we deepened our practice of anti-racism.

Deeper AROC: More Tools & Resources (print version)

Deeper AROC: More Tools & Resources (web version)

The second resource booklet was developed in partnership with the Alberta Association of Immigrant Serving Agencies (AAISA).

We developed a webinar to support the understanding and use of the content found in the first and second resource booklets.

This webinar was developed in partnership with the Alberta Association of Immigrant Serving Agencies (AAISA).

Accountability to Indigenous Communities Project

Since early 2019, CommunityWise has worked with an Indigenous Advisory Group, led by Blackfoot elder Jackie Bromley, to learn about and address anti-Indigenous racism as part of our AROC process. The members of this group, as well as Nicole Eshkakogan, the consultant that supported us in forming and working with the group, sat down with Michelle Robinson of Native Calgarian in October 2020 to discuss the work they did with CommunityWise. We are grateful for their contributions and look forward to deepening our relationships with them as we take action on their recommendations for Indigenous-led solutions for equity and anti-racism. View a summary of the “final report” mentioned in the podcast here.

Anti-Racism & Equity is for Everyone (video)

In November 2020, jaqs gallos aquines and Thulasy Lettner presented about AROC as part of Board Leadership Calgary’s online learning series.

Organizational Racism: Self-Assessment

We developed this short questionnaire—just five questions—to get people thinking about how well their organization is addressing organizational racism. There’s a lot more to it than these questions suggest, so we’ve included links to more comprehensive assessments, as well as definitions of the words diversity, inclusion, equity, organizational racism, and anti-racism.

Organizational Racism: Self-Assessment

Podcast: The Unlearning Channel

This podcast discusses racism and anti-racism both inside and outside the context of organizations. It is produced and hosted by Jacquie Gallos Aquines and Mel Vee.

In the first episode, Jacquie and Mel Vee speak with Thulasy Lettner, Equity Coordinator at CommunityWise about CommunityWises’s Anti-Racist Organizational Change (AROC) process and creating equitable practices in the non-profit sector in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, Treaty 7 territory.

A transcript for Episode 7 “Bystander Intervention” can be found here.

Listen to MelVeeX interview fellow Black Leadership Alliance Council (BLAC) members Ariam Wolde-Giorgis and Tyson Bankert in back-to-back episodes as they discuss anti-Blackness, sharing Black spaces, and what community care looks and feels like. These episodes were developed as a collaboration between BLAC, CommunityWise, and the Unlearning Channel with support from the Department of Canadian Heritage through the Community Support, Multiculturalism, and Anti-Racism Initiatives Program.