OLIP Launches Next Phase of the Equity Ottawa InitiativeMarch 25, 2021
On Monday, March 22nd, OLIP launched a new Phase of the Equity Ottawa initiative, at a gathering of more than 30 OLIP partners and on the occasion of the International Day of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
“While the International Day for the elimination of Racial Discrimination has its roots in apartheid South Africa, the events of 2020, including a global pandemic and worldwide protests for racial justice, have put a spotlight on racial inequities and reaffirmed the urgency to eliminate racial – and all – inequities”, said Hindia Mohamoud, OLIP director and co-chair – with Simone Thibault, executive director of Centretown Community Health Centre – of the Equity Partnership.
The focus of the new phase will be on the implementation of the community plan of action on Equity, co-created by the OLIP Equity Partners in the fall of 2019. New funding from the department of Canadian Heritage and from the City of Ottawa will allow the OLIP Secretariat to support Equity Partners’ progress on equity by:
- Continuing the equity community of practice, a platform for knowledge sharing and peer support to help cultivate inclusive organizations across sectors
- Identifying and implementing strategic and collaborative actions
- Building data capacity, collaborative monitoring and reporting of progress
- Building in community perspectives systematically in collaborative action strategies
The launch event included reflection on the accomplishments of OLIP Equity Partners since inception eight years ago. The work of the City of Ottawa that saw the establishment of a new service unit for equity and diversity, and that of the Ottawa Public Health in the collection and use of disaggregated socio demographic data on the Ottawa population who contracted the COVID-19 virus were showcased as examples of successful equity action planning and implementation.
As part of the launch event, Equity Partners had the opportunity to take stock of the lessons learned from the previous phases of OLIP’s Equity Community of Practice. Some of the lessons include:
- Cultivating equitable and inclusive organizations is indispensable for Ottawa’ success in the integration of immigrants; and it is the most stainable route to supporting successful integration and equitable outcomes for immigrants and racialized populations.
- As Ottawa’s population shifts and the constituents of local organizations become increasingly more diverse, organizations are expected to ensure alignment with new expectations and needs; and ability to draw from new ideas and leadership to become more responsive and equitable in their mandates.
- Organizational change requires multifaceted and concomitant change planning and execution across multiple organizational domains, ranging from governance and leadership, internal culture, community connections and relationship management, human resource management, service planning and delivery.
- OLIP’s Equity Community of Practice played an important role in that it afforded organizations’ equity practioners and leaders a space for learning and knowledge exchange, peer support in analyzing challenges and finding solutions, and expertise and facilitation to co-create collaborative actions that add value to the work of all member organizations, such as capacity development in the collection and use of disaggregated data.
Yasir Naqvi, OLIP Chair and CEO of the Canadian Institute for Citizenship, stressed that the COVID pandemic has made clear the depth of inequities that is affecting peoples’ lives and health. “It will not be enough to go back to how things were before as we emerge from this pandemic”, said Yasir. “We will need to pursue structural changes and transformative and concerted efforts to change organizations and the policy environments that affect organizations’ capacities”, continued Yasir.
“As Equity partners, we are motivated to change our organizations’ practices to become increasingly more equitable and inclusive, we are available to help each other in our individual journeys towards equitable outcomes for all our clients and employees, and are committed to joining our forces to continually strengthen enabling policy and funding environment that can fuel progress in equity in our community”, said Simone Thibault, co-founder of the Equity Ottawa Partnership.
The launch event concluded with a passionate and clear speech by Hector Addison, Chief Service Officer of the African Canadian Association of Ottawa. Hector called on Equity Ottawa partners to stand firm against condoning the current cast system that normalizes inequities faced by certain groups and leaves unchallenged how we work. This clarity drew Equity Partners’ applause and re-affirmation of commitment to stand together against systemic racism.
The Equity Ottawa Partnership resulted from OLIP’s Socio-Civic Integration Sector Table as part of Partners’ implementation of the Ottawa Immigration Strategy. The initiative was co-founded by OLIP and Centretown Community Health Centre in 2012. Since inception, this work has grown into a city-wide partnership with more than 20 core partners and over 100 stakeholders working together to cultivate equitable and inclusive public sector organizations in Ottawa. The work of the Equity Ottawa Partnership was supported by the OLIP Secretariat in successive phases to curate progress.
Previous phases of Equity Ottawa:
Phase I (2012-2013)
The primary focus in the first phase was to lay the foundations of a collaborative attention on progress in addressing systemic challenges that pose barriers in immigrants and racialized populations’ access to key human services and in contributing to the leadership of Ottawa’s civil society. The work begin with engagement of local organizations with track record in organizational change work and in listening to individual organization’s journeys to establish coherent internal practice of equity in multiple domains. This initial phase helped to articulate internal drivers in the practice of equity and the challenges and opportunities the faced.
Phase II (2013-2016)
The second phase involved the establishment of Equity Community of Practice with facilitated dialogues and case studies to promote experiential learning and peer support, combined with knowledge events that brought expertise to breakdown challenges into shared learning, and analytical tools to create meaning from the dialogues, experiences, resources and challenges. The objectives were to increase organizational awareness about their capacities to effect change, gain and articulate a clearer understanding of the gaps and challenges that impede progress toward equity and inclusion as well as provide support to equity and inclusion practitioners.
Phase III (2017-2019)
The third phase included a compilation of evidence base on inequities in Ottawa, outreach to additional organizations and community stakeholders, and development of a common agenda, theory of change and a collective plan of action, to guide partners’ effort in organizational change.