Vibrant Communities Calgary ’s vision is a community where there is enough for all. They create opportunities to align and leverage the work of hundreds of organizations and thousands of Calgarians to reduce poverty in their city.
In addressing what we can do to fix poverty, Vibrant Communities Calgary incorporates a Blackfoot worldview, which includes having empathy and compassion, building mutual respect, learning from lived/living experiences, and providing opportunities to help people become independent and resilient.
Racialized people are overrepresented in poverty – particularly deep poverty – and are less likely to be employed and to be accessing benefits like the Canada Child Benefit (Poverty Snapshot in Calgary). They are also more likely to have poorer health outcomes and lack community belonging.
VCC recognizes the importance of ‘walking the talk,’ and that it is just as important for us to exemplify what we expect others to do. Anti-poverty initiatives cannot get external credibility if we are not doing the internal work ourselves.
RecommendationsSome questions that they recommend that anti-poverty initiatives reflect on include:
- Does the diversity of your board and staff reflect the diversity of the populations you serve?
- Do you have succession plans in place to ensure that racialized leaders and those with lived/living experience have clear pathways to leadership roles?
- Are you decolonizing your HR and other organizational policies (e.g., do you provide flexibility in observed holidays)?
- Are you decolonizing your meetings (e.g., do you still use an agenda and robust rules of order)?
- Are you strategically spending your funds (e.g., in a way that contributes to the solution by putting money into the hands of black and Indigenous-owned organizations?)
- How you decide what opportunities to speak at and participate in (e.g., are you able to say no to those which lack diversity and do you recommend racialized and leaders with lived/lived experience to speak in your place)?
- For events, do you have an Indigenous advisory committee, are you intentional about recruiting racialized speakers, and are you paying them adequately for their expertise?
- To what extent are you moving beyond land acknowledgements in Indigenous engagement (e.g., how many elders are you working with, are you paying them adequately, and how much of your budget is allocated to your Indigenous strategy)?
Ways that VCC shifts mindsets and creates space to think outside the box with new partners include:
- Using media and communications to create opportunities for conversation, such as their Let’s Talk Poverty podcast series that they use as a platform to profile diverse leaders
Next steps include assessing the strengths and gaps of Calgary’s Enough for All strategy from a GBA+ lens, developing principles of equity and diversity, and using these to create an EDI framework that can guide future strategy, planning, activities, implementation, and reporting. To improve coordinated municipal and provincial measurement and response, they also plan to work with the City of Calgary and the Government of Alberta on how its many municipal EDI strategies can connect, and how Enough for All can fit in and contribute.
- See other posts in our blog post series on Centering Anti-Racist and Equity Frameworks in Anti-Poverty Work
- Read more in the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion section of the Communities Ending Poverty Communities of Practice Coaching Library.