Conference Reflections: Reconciliation as a way of being

Last week I was honoured and humbled to be joined by many of you for three days of intense and heartfelt dialogue, learning, and connection.

The Federation will revisit and share various themes and ideas that emerged at the conference over the coming weeks. But for now, I simply want to pause and reflect before continuing this journey.

I found Chief Dr. Robert Joseph’s keynote address inspiring. It primed the group for a series of workshops and sessions that were emotional and powerful and, at times, rather difficult. I think we all expected as much when we arrived in Richmond but experiencing these sessions first hand was very different from planning and organizing them.

This process of “living into reconciliation”—of turning this work into a way of being is not an easy one. One idea that stood out for me was the suggestion that there is no one path to reconciliation. Our speakers served as gracious guides in considering some of the ways forward and then created space for people to think about and understand their own path.

I was also thankful for the diverse group of participants—people from government, from community organizations, from Delegated Aboriginal Agencies, from Friendship Centres—that helped to create a welcomed shift in the tone and power felt within the room. The spirit that everyone brought to the tables and circles was hopeful and carried both a commitment for change and unwavering support for one another.

During his opening remarks, Chief Dr. Robert Joseph shared how much the title of the event in and of itself meant to him personally. He explained that the commitment and intention implied by the word “continuous” really stood out and encouraged him.

We chose that word with care. This event was not a box for The Federation to check off; the work is not done now that the conference is over. We will continue to explore how The Federation’s journey of reconciliation might connect with our many other priorities and projects: our other conferences, our election strategy, our Leadership 2020 program, all of it.

Our shared goal of a more sustainable and responsive system of social care requires us to pay attention and address issues of inequity and inequality in all that we do.

Whether you were at the conference or not, I encourage each of you to continue living into reconciliation. Altogether better requires all of us.

If you want to get involved, contact Rebecca at The Federation office about joining our Reconciliation Action Group. This group is helping to guide our organization and the next meeting is coming up soon.

The Federation’s second member survey report is out now!

Earlier this year, The Federation released a report analyzing the data from the 2015 Federation Member Survey and a study done in partnership with the University of Victoria.

That report, the first in a series of four, looked at the health and sustainability of B.C.’s community social service sector. Today, I am pleased to share with you the second in this series of reports.

This new report sifts through the data to find insights about demographics of people served by the sector, the range of services offered, key program areas, and the benefits that well-funded social services provide to other sectors.

Our goal is to use the information contained in these reports in conjunction with things like the Select Standing Committee report and our analyses of provincial budgets to paint an accurate picture of B.C.’s social service landscape. It is important to have current and detailed information about the sector and our members so that we can continue to advocate on your behalf with politicians, funders, and decision makers.

This information also enables us to address some assumptions about the makeup of our Federation. For example, nearly half of our members provide services to older adults; perhaps we don’t talk about these services as much as we should.

We know providing us with this information is a lot of work—that time that could be spent doing other important tasks at your agencies. But these reports only exist because you took the time to complete such surveys. For that, you have my thanks. You also have the reassurance that these surveys provide the facts required to back up our statements about the value of the sector and our calls for increased funding.

Please take a moment to look through this latest report. This information has been pulled together in a way that we (and you) can use to educate people about our sector—what we do, who we serve, and the impact that these services have on other, more widely known and understood systems of care: health and education.

If you have any questions about this work, don’t hesitate to contact me.