Dr. June Francis presents on Black History Month at YWCA Metro Vancouver

Big 'IDEA's

by Tamara Robertson-Fry

At YWCA Metro Vancouver, we continue to embed inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility (IDEA) throughout our organization and daily work. Our three staff equity committees play a significant role in these efforts.  

Gender Inclusion Committee 

The gender inclusion committee is particularly focused on fostering a safe and inclusive environment for trans, gender diverse and questioning (TGDQ) individuals. To explore meaningful and tangible ways to progress gender inclusion in our workspaces, programs and services, the committee partnered with TransFocus and conducted an internal survey to assess the existing levels of inclusion for TGDQ employees, as well as recommendations to action.  

Additionally, staff engaged in extensive gender diversity training, and were invited to participate in further strategy-focused sessions to identify, analyze and action solutions that would increase gender inclusion in our programs and services. They are also helping provide ideas to best support and educate participants and clients accessing these programs.  

Racial Equity Committee 

The racial equity committee identifies opportunities and initiatives to create an inclusive, informed and welcoming organization for racialized individuals. Over the past few months, they prioritized assessing the organization's recruiting and hiring practices and identified ways to increase diversity and make the process more inclusive and accessible. The committee was also involved in creating and implementing an anonymous incident reporting procedure for employees to effectively manage workplace discrimination and microaggression challenges.  

The committee also wrote a blog post to celebrate Black History Month, with a focus on Black resistance and allyship. They hosted an organization-wide learning event with Dr. June Francis, a prominent specialist in anti-racism and advocate for equity, diversity and inclusion for racialized groups as well as human rights. 

Truth and Reconciliation Committee 

The truth and reconciliation committee continues to support Reciprocal Consulting in providing mandatory truth and reconciliation training for all YWCA staff. The committee also hosted a public event with Michelle Good, author of Five Little Indians, which concluded the YWCA 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence campaign.  

Most recently, this committee organized a lunch and learn about the ongoing tragedy of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls ahead of the Women's Memorial March on February 14. Staff were invited to watch an episode of the APTN and CBC series 'Taken', followed by a discussion with Viola Thomas, YWCA Indigenous Relations Manager. Staff were also encouraged to attend the march and a large number took part in the annual event that takes place in the Downtown Eastside. 

Each staff committee has exciting plans and projects in the works and we are excited to bring you updates as they develop. For more information on YWCA IDEA policies and work, contact Tamara Robertson-Fry at trobertsonfry@ywcavan.org | 604 895 5860. 



This article is part of the 2023 Spring/Summer edition of our Contact Newsletter. 
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