Living into reconciliation: moving forward

Last week, The Federation’s Reconciliation Action Group met to reflect on the October Conference and to discuss how our organization can continue living into reconciliation.

Some of the group members shared that they will be taking the Kairos Blanket Exercise Training this week. Another member’s agency recently participated in the Witness Blanket Tour which is on exhibit in the lower mainland until April. The group also talked about the possibility of hosting another Federation conference on reconciliation to continue this important dialogue.

But a big part of the group’s conversation focused on the need to build stronger and more meaningful relationships with the First Nations on whose land we host our general meetings and conferences. One member explained how they research the history of the areas they travel to so that they arrive as informed visitors when they go to different places. The Federation board did the same thing earlier this week when we gathered in Richmond for our strategic planning meeting (I’ll share more about that meeting over the coming weeks).

All journeys start with a few small steps. Our October Reconciliation Conference started a dialogue, forged some new relationships, and plotted some new paths forward. Over the coming months, The Federation will continue building upon the momentum of these first steps. We may not report out on everything we do—some topics are sensitive and some things will take a long time—but we are committed to moving forward.

I will close by sharing that reconciliation was the focus of much discussion at the board’s strategic planning meeting this week. Living into reconciliation is a commitment this federation takes very seriously. My hope is that sharing some of the steps we are taking will inspire you to do so as well.

If you want to get involved or share ways that your organization is living into reconciliation please let me know. Only together can we make things better.

Reconciliation speakers

A number of members have inquired about recordings of the presentations from the October Conference. Many of the speakers, such as Chief Dr. Robert Joseph and Monique Gray Smith, have a number of speeches and recordings available online.

If you are looking for ways to bring what you heard at the conference back to your agencies, I encourage you to check them out. A few links are included below.

Chief Robert Joseph video series by Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Dialogue.

Chief Robert Joseph, “My Vision for Canada” from the Pathways to Reconciliation Conference (includes presentations by Wab Kinew and Cindy Blackstock).

Monique Gray Smith, “Resilience and the Power of One” at TEDx Langley.

Strengthening our federation: Connecting with members and increasing engagement

“Community engagement means listening to the voices, needs, and ideas of the community. It means reporting back on the outcomes of engagement and honouring people’s time and ideas.” – Federation Member

Last week in this space, I reflected on the road trip I took when I started my role at The Federation. I have been thinking a lot about the impact of that trip above and beyond the extent to which it prepared me for this position.

It was valuable to hear directly from so many members the things that are important to you, the barriers you face, and the goals you want to accomplish. And I’m confident that, in many cases, these talks were just as valuable for you as it was for me.

That kind of engagement is vital to organizations like ours. It’s why one of The Federation’s strategic directives is to provide services that support members’ organizational capacity and participation. We’re a federation and you—our members—are the key partners in achieving our shared mission.

While I don’t travel across the province as often as I might like, I always try to make myself available and accessible. Some members, after speaking with me recently, admitted that they were worried about bothering me with their requests or questions. You aren’t. I promise.

It is my job to answer member questions—your questions—and to explain our projects and initiatives, to listen to your requests or ideas, and to update you on issues that affect your organizations.

As such, starting later this month, I will be holding virtual office hours on Friday afternoons as often as possible. You can call me at 250-655-3949 with any questions, ideas, or requests you may have. If I don’t pick up, I’m likely on a call with another member. Leave a message and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

The first Office Hours will be on the afternoon of Friday, November 25 from 12:00–4:00 pm. These will continue on Friday, December 16 and on into the new year. Other dates and times will be included in the News Clippings and my Weekly Emails in the future.

I don’t mean to say that this is the only way that you can get in touch with me. I welcome your calls or emails at any time, but these dates will be blocked off so I am available for this purpose only. It is one new attempt to support and strengthen the connections with our members, to facilitate easy and direct communication. If you want to, or need to, talk to me, just call.

And if you have other ideas for ways our federation can connect, please contact me. If there are additional things we can do to help you in your work, just let me know. We will be rolling out more tools to support members and increase engagement over the coming months. So stay tuned.

I look forward to talking with you.

Connection, understanding, and collaboration

When I started this job, I devoted time to a road trip across B.C. I wanted to visit and speak with as many Federation members as possible. I wanted to learn about your needs, goals, worries, and ideas. I wanted to start the job by connecting with and understanding this Federation.

One of the things I heard over and over was that there are too many umbrella organizations in our province. Our members worried—and still worry—that umbrella organizations aren’t coordinating with one another or doing things collaboratively; you worry that we will look disorganized or get tuned out by people tired of the cacophony of voices saying different things.

3rd Voice is an attempt to unify those voices in support of community wellbeing. It is an initiative that The Federation has been a part of from the start. This initiative is bringing together the diverse groups representing community-serving organizations to coordinate our messaging, efforts, and energy.

Last week, 3rd Voice held its inaugural conference. The speakers at the event were engaged and well-informed about the work this group is setting out to do. They noted that the kind of collaboration we are striving for can be hard to achieve. It takes time, they explained, to develop the trust and understanding required to work together with intention and honesty.

Working with others for the benefit of our communities is one of The Federation’s strategic priorities; it is one way that we measure our progress and our impact. I am proud of The Federation’s participation in 3rd Voice. As a result, I now count a number of new and strong working relationships with other allies focused on social change in B.C.

Last week’s 3rd Voice conference was a big step forward on a path we committed to several years ago. We have much work ahead of us but it was a very good start. And I am excited about our new allies and our commitment to work together, in unison, to better serve B.C.’s communities.

New Directions, New Reports

New Directions is another initiative The Federation has been involved in for a while. We have served on the advisory committee of New Directions for a number of years helping guide the group to the place it is today.

They recently released a new report full of data and information that may benefit Federation members. This project was focused on the broader array of non-profits in B.C. (e.g., social services, faith groups, recreation, arts groups) but speaks to the way the community social service sector contributes to B.C.

Their research is detailed and thorough and could be a helpful source of information when you’re working on grant proposals or writing your annual report.

New Directions is currently working on their next steps: developing key messages speaking to their research, overall trends, and the impact of B.C.’s non-profits. You can find the reports online at I hope you can put them to good use.