Anti-Racism Virtual Town Hall

Anti-Racism Virtual Town Hall

As an organization, Calgary Arts Development has committed ourselves to bettering our systems regarding equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility (EDIA). This summer Calgary Arts Development hosted a series of virtual town halls to discuss issues around the deep-seated racism that exists within our communities and systems, and how we can further develop anti-racist policies and practices governing our work.

The work to confront and dismantle racism falls on everyone of us as we try to build equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility in our institutions, systems, communities, and networks.

Continuing this conversation, the town hall took place on Wednesday, October 7, 2020. It acted as a wrap-up to the series of conversations we hosted over the summer, with reflections on what we heard, what we learned, and what we are thinking about as we move forward.

The town hall was hosted on Zoom and was interpreted in American Sign Language (ASL). A transcript of the town hall is available below as well as an unedited version of the chat and a list of links that were shared.

Greg Burbidge: If you have joined us before, you’ll know that Calgary Arts Development uses group agreements to set shared expectations and a commitment to safety and bravery in the space that we’re occupying together today. Those agreements can be found in the instructions document that is going to be posed in the chat. At our summer town hall, the CommunityWise Anti-Racism Organizational Change working group shared with us their accountable spaces guidelines and today we’re going to focus on using those. You also find those guidelines and instructions documents that were sent out and we will post that link in the chat.

Some highlights from those:

Share the space. Be mindful of your speaking time. Make space for others to speak and avoid interrupting others.

Please keep mics on mute when not speaking. Feel free to post reactions in the chat. If the moderator is open to questions at that time, please use the raise hand function. We’ll get to that in a second.

Understand that individuals experience racism in very different ways. Recognize that each experience and viewpoint is valid, even if they differ. Validate experiences rather than lecturing or giving advice and consider that you do not need to agree with a perspective in order to understand that perspective.

Speak for yourself. Use “I” language. Don’t speak for others and don’t share someone else’s stories or experiences.

Notice your own biases and judgments and avoid making assumptions about other people.

Examine your own privilege and be aware of potential power dynamics that you might be contributing to our space.

Recognize that we are all in a place of learning. If you say something problematic, apologize, listen to the voices of others, and then learn and adjust your behaviour.

Be open to calling in harmful attitudes, as well as open to critical self-reflection. If an individual tells you that something you said was harmful to them, listen to them. Use these situations not to harass or call out, but as a learning experience.

Take care of yourself, think of someone you can trust whom you can debrief with and plan to contact them after the town hall today. It’s okay if you need to leave the room at any time. Facilitators are available for follow-up conversations.

In addition to these accountable spaces guidelines, I want to also state that we recognize that asking people to share in this space is a request that requires emotional labour and vulnerability. Calgary Arts Development commits to the promise that there will be no retribution against people for the stories and perspectives they’re sharing, both from our speakers and from the participants in the town hall today. We ask all our participants to commit to the same principles.

Any participant who uses harmful or disrespectful language, or who is actively disregarding the group agreements will be asked to leave the town hall. If they choose not to leave, they will be removed.

Please privately chat with Taylor, who will be supporting today’s town hall as an active bystander. If you feel uncomfortable, or unsafe, or see that a participant is using harmful or offensive language, please let Taylor know. Taylor, can you introduce yourself, so people can find you on the screen.

Taylor Poitras: Yes. Hello everyone. Can you hear me? My name is Taylor and like Greg said, I’ll be the active bystander for the town hall today, so please feel free to private chat with me if you feel uncomfortable or unsafe, or if you feel the group agreements are not being respected. So that’s part of my role today as an active bystander is to help ensure that we’re collectively adhering to the agreements, and any participants who break those will be contacted directly by myself and if necessary, removed from the discussion, or Zoom will do it for me today. Thanks, Greg.

Greg Burbidge: Thanks, Taylor.

We will be opening the floor for questions after invited guests share their thoughts with us, and we hope to hear from you, as many of you as possible today. If you would like to speak, please open the participants list at the bottom middle of your screen. At the bottom of the list, you’ll see ‘raise hand.’ You may also indicate that you would like to share using the chat. We’ll be tracking that. When you speak, please clearly state your name and pause before speaking, so people have time to find your screen. If your Zoom username is different than the name you’ll introduce yourself by, please use the menu function to update your name, so it’s easier to find you. You can use the three dot menu, if you hover over the picture of yourself, you will see three dots besides the mute, you can update your name and share your pronouns there.

Lesley Hinger and I, both of us, staff at CADA, will be collecting questions from the chat box and watching for raised hands. We’ll try to get to as many people and questions as possible in our limited amount of time today. If you have any questions or challenges with the technology or accessibility, again, please private chat with Marc. I’d now like to invite my colleague, Sable Sweetgrass to do a welcome and land acknowledgment.

Sable Sweetgrass: Hello. Oki everyone. Thank you all for attending this week’s town hall. My name is Sable Sweetgrass and my, I’m from the Kainai Nation in Southern Alberta. My Blackfoot name is Nato Ohkotoksakii and I was born and raised in the most part here in Mohkinstsis, which is what we call Calgary. And this, where we are meeting today here in Mohkinstsis, is in Treaty 7 Territory.

And Treaty 7 is the treaty that was signed on September 22, 1877 at Blackfoot Crossing, which is about an hour east of Calgary on the Siksika Nation. And that Treaty was signed between the Blackfoot, the Tsuut’ina Nation and the Stoney Nakoda Nations, like I said back in 1877, and so those were the parties to the signing of Treaty 7. But the other party to that signing is also Canada, which is, which involves all of you, all Canadians, are also signatories to that Treaty. And I think a lot, what people have a lot of questions, and maybe don’t even really know too much about Treaty 7 and I highly encourage you to look into that, because that is the founding document of this land, this place we all call home. And I think it’s important that Albertants and Calgarians, and people who live here in Southern Alberta get to know that Treaty and get to know the First Nations here in Treaty 7. Today, we share this land with First Nations from all across Canada and also the United States, with the Inuit Peoples and with the Métis Nation, people from the Métis Nation.

So we have all diversity of First Nations people, and then as well as people from all around the world. And it’s really important to get to know this land, and to get to know people of this land, the language of this land, which is Blackfoot. And the reason it’s so important to get to know the people is we’re trying to combat racism in, all across Canada. And just recently I attended the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women vigil here in Calgary, it was on Sunday. And this year, it’s particularly emotional and because of what happened to a lady by the name of Joyce Echaquan from Quebec.

And most of you have probably seen on the news what happened to Joyce in the hospital when she was trying to seek treatment and what she had to endure from the nurses that were supposed to be taking care of her. That was not an isolated incident of racism, that I can tell you from my own personal experience that happens often. That was just one time that someone was able to record what happened. And it’s been happening for a long, long time. And I’m sure it doesn’t just happen to Indigenous people. I’m sure it happens to many BIPOC people. And so, it’s really important that we address these issues especially with health care because we all need, we all need health care, we all need to access it, especially in this time. And so I think that it’s really important to, that, within here, our territory that we, we make sure that we address these issues and confront them head on. That’s all I want to say today. Thanks!

Patti Pon: Many many thanks to Sable. For those of you who have been with us over the last five town halls, Sable always takes a moment and some time to share with us. And I think that this time in particular the things really stood out for me since we last got to meet with you in this kind of setting, Treaty Day happened, so September 22 happened, Orange Shirt Day happened where it’s a broad effort to wear an orange shirt and remind ourselves and as a visual reminder to learn more about the history of residential schools, of its impact on young people. And then again, Sable’s referenced the march that happened this past weekend.

And the things that come to me from all of that are this isn’t a history lesson, this is something that is happening right now, and has been happening, so as we ask people to make that land acknowledgment, as we invite the First Peoples of this land to welcome us all to this place they’ve called home for time immemorial, time immemorial. For us at CADA, for me, it’s about the recognition that our Indigenous brothers and sisters live here right now, today, in many circumstances that are completely untenable, and that’s a large part of why we started hosting these anti-racism town halls.

There are so many of us who are on this call right now who can make it different, who can make a difference. And I’m so grateful to Sable, every time I hear her speak, I learn something more, I discover even more what a wonderful, open, generous person she is. And I’m also very grateful to all of you who choose to join us for these calls and listen. And I hope today as we do a little bit of summary of what we heard over the last five town halls over the summer that there are bits and pieces that you might be able to take away for you in the work you’re doing and in the organizations that you may be affiliated with, or work within. And I hope you learn something more about CADA, our own journey in all of this.

And trust me when I say I have certainly made my fair share of mistakes and I’m pretty sure I will continue to make those mistakes, but what I do know is I won’t, and we, as an organization, will not strop trying to become a more equitable organization and to work in a manner that is anti-racist. So thank you again, Sable, for everything you’ve done for us, not just today but certainly in the time you’ve been a part of CADA’s family.

So, as I said, today’s town hall is, the first little bit I’m going to share with you a bit of the history, how has CADA come through, or worked through our work around equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility. And then, we’re gonna talk a little bit about some of the most current efforts that have in large part been influenced by what we heard in the town halls. And then we’re gonna open it up for some Q&A. I’m gonna talk a little bit about next steps for us heading into the rest of the year and next year around EDIA. And of course, all of that, we will try to sort of honour within the time—the couple of hours that you are all committed to us until five o’clock.

If questions come up as we’re speaking, please feel free to type them into the chat. As Greg said, we’re tracking those, so I have a list of questions coming up so that we’re sure that we capture everything. So I encourage you to raise any questions, ideas or thoughts that you might have.

So just moving ahead, I want to give you, it says here ‘brief glimpse’ into our EDIA history and it’s not brief, so settle in folks, you might want to get a drink or something, but we just thought it was really important to share with you some of CADA’s journey because for some of you in your organizations, you may find yourself in a similar journey, at maybe at a different point. And this is a long game. You know, I use the example, for those of you who may have received the 35/50 letter and that ask being made of your organizations. It is not as simple as let me have a conversation with my board, and then we’ll go from there. It’s more than that. It’s the commitment to the idea of what 35/50 represents. That’s the long game. That’s the consideration that I hope you have all been thinking about long before that correspondence was shared, but nevertheless, the way in which you act upon it is all about where you are in your journey and so, we thought that by us sharing ours, maybe there’s some insight and some learnings we can exchange and share.

So in earnest, we started our EDIA journey in 2016, and although there were seeds sown before then, we really embraced it. And I think that the thing that is significant to us is that we try to have humility and we try to be transparent about recognizing the historical inequities and barriers in our granting programs and the biases that were embedded in our program criteria, in our assessment processes, and that we had a real difficulty and still have a difficulty as we try to understand, unpack and really discuss the various cultural context, lived experiences, marginalization or ways of knowing and sharing the impact of artistic work that isn’t the same for everybody. And isn’t something that we can just apply evenly across a spectrum that is much broader than what our programs in the past had traditionally addressed. And traditionally addressed is 60 years of civic funding for the arts in Calgary.

So we, in the last four years, have really been trying to dismantle and unpack that and tried to understand that. We started to explore ways that we could increase access to funds without disrupting what was already a very fragile ecosystem in place primarily with traditionally Euro-centric arts organizations that had been favoured, but were also existing very very close to the edge and what could we do, how could we do that given this fragility that we were seeing all organizations and artists face at that time. So in 2013/14 we created a program called Arts for All and it was to encourage and support arts activity outside of the downtown core with a focus on East Calgary.

Our first project took place in Greater Forest Lawn through our partnership with International Avenue Business Revitalization Zone. And through that program and that partnership for a few years, we then took the time and what we learned and that led to a redesigned program called ArtShare in 2016, that was guided by principles of EDIA with a flexible one-size-fits-one approach. The program was staff-led, and was always intended to be a one-time project fund and not a way to support on-going operations and programming. This was about trying to reach out to communities that for reasons of our own doing and for not really getting out and communicating that we were here, communities didn’t feel like they could have a relationship with us through our programs.

Some of the past ArtShare recipients have now moved into our project grants and operating grant programs, but certainly not the majority.

Then in 2017, we began to design the Original Peoples Investment Program; in 2018 we launched it and then in 2019 we had the first distribution of grant investment funds. This program is a real benchmark and highlight for me, because the design of the program was led by a First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Advisory Committee. The decision-making process was FNMI-led and we granted $400,000 to 41 artists in 2019 and in a recent share that Sable provided, the 2020 program doubled the number of artists who have applied to that program. So it’s just been such an honour to see this program in its early stages, to really begin to feature the work of Indigenous artists in just a whole myriad of ways. And I really want to thank that advisory and Sable for her leadership, in particular in this role, in her role. And also, because of that work, it led us on the beginning of our own reconciliation journey in 2016 in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report and recommendations, and White Goose Flying, which is a report that the City of Calgary prepared with their Aboriginal Affair Group Committee.

Coming out of that, our journey has included the Common Ground or Asinna’kiiks that was gifted a Blackfoot name, stands for those who write or draw, which is a dinner and dialogue series to deepen the relations and understanding between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities with artists presenting and being centred at the artistic core, providing artistic responses to the stories they hear from Elders and conversations that subsequently took place around the tables. And then as I said earlier, the land acknowledgements and the welcomes that we make ahead of every gathering, public gathering, are a way in which we continue to bring meaning and understanding into our own organization, but also hopefully for the benefit of those that we are gathering with, like you today.

With respect to increasing our relations and relationships with equity-seeking communities, a lot of it happened through one-on-one meetings thanks to the efforts of our former staff members, Jordan Baylon and Emiko Muraki. They really got us started on a path. Their participation on national and international forums and the work that took place at our Creative Calgary Congress. Thulasy Lettner was a big part of helping us deepen our learning, as was MelVeeX in this respect.

We dedicated research on demographics of our sector and its underrepresentation of equity-seeking communities through the EDIA Census and the Arts Professional Survey, which by the way if you haven’t filled out, we’ve extended the deadline to October 16. It’s a long survey. I just give you that. I will just let you know right now. Please know the information you provide to us and maybe as I’m speaking, Greg or members of CADA team staff could put the link in the chat box again. The information that we garner from that survey is really critical for us. We pay a lot of attention to it, it’ll form the basis of our next case to City Council when we go back for our four-year budget in 2022. And we really want to give as full a picture as we can. So I thank you right now ahead of time for taking the time to fill it out. It’s a good 20-25 minutes, or it took me that long to fill it out. It’s for anybody who works in the arts. So it’s administrators, it’s craft people, it’s technicians, it’s artists, anyone who works in the arts. Please fill it out, and there’s also, you could also win one of five $400.00 gift cards. There you go. Greg will be happy now.

And then of course, it took… oh sorry… Taylor, maybe I’m living in my own little time bubble.

2016 also marked the beginning of a residency, an inclusive designer in residence, JD Derbyshire. JD seriously began to help us focus our learning and our adapting through training, reflection, and co-design. And boy, when I think about that journey, just for me personally, it has been astonishing. So as I said at the beginning of my description of our journey, it is a long process. And for those who may feel you are at the beginning of a process, or you don’t even know where to start, my advice to you is: start. Baby steps.

And it will seem really super super hard, especially if you are a white-led organization and you are trying to find your way to how to be more equitable, especially if you are an organization where maybe you haven’t had these conversations around EDIA with your board and I know it’s lots, and I would’ve been one of them four years ago. And look at me. It’s not an easy conversation sometimes to bring up because we may all be at different places on our own learning journeys, but again I would say to you, start. If you need help, call us. And I can’t promise that we will give you an answer but we probably know people who can help you find those answers and that’s what this is about.

This is about recognizing that we do live in a different time; we do live in a time where if you are not thinking about this as an organization who receives public dollars, you would put yourself at peril going forward. I believe more and more organizations, funders will call upon you to articulate where you are in your journey and it’s not about a right or wrong answer, it’s about being on the journey.

And, so I just wanted to set that context with you and move on to the five town halls and what we heard coming out of them. Some of you may recall that the very first town hall was initiated because Calgary Arts Development was being challenged for not responding sooner to the murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement. Well, the Black Lives Matter movement, period. It’s been around for years and years and we made our first public statement in the spring, and to those who challenged us, you were right to do that. And we were late to the game and to my colleagues in the organization who felt so strongly, I want to acknowledge your commitment and your desire to have CADA be a better organization than it was, even four months ago. So, that’s how this works for us. So we held our first town hall which was intended to be a chance for people to ask us questions about what we were doing around EDIA, anti-racism, working towards a more equitable sector, a more welcoming sector.

And again, I want to thank all of you who have joined us throughout these last several meetings in months. I’m making a particular point of identifying individuals who spoke on behalf of, well who spoke on their own behalf, never mind anybody else. They spoke from their heart and from their experiences, and I want you to know that as I’m identifying each of you, I’m doing so from a place of appreciation and from a place of recognizing, in many instances, it was not easy for you to be able to speak up the way you did and I really want to thank you and applaud you for that. And I hope that we got better at creating the conditions in this forum for you to do that.

It all started with Jaqs Gallos Aquines reminding us that an anti-racism framework is not a fixed strategy. It aligns with emergent strategies as described by Andrienne Maree Brown’s book. The book is called Emergent Strategy through AK press. If any of you haven’t read it, it’s a really good read about how we adapt and pivot at very complex and complicated times. And so I recommend it. That change transforms organizations into something new and different. It’s difficult to predict. There’s lots of uncertainty and organizations are complex. And in order for the change to be deep, you’ll encounter the challenges. It’s an ongoing and evolving process.

Tyson Bankert said something that we’ve learned at CADA, both from working with JD and through our own experiences, and that’s that you have to get comfortable with discomfort. I cannot tell you the number of times over this last several months, it was just too hard. This is too much. I’m overwhelmed. I don’t know how I’m going to do the next thing and I especially don’t know how to do the work around changing a system that is so firmly embedded. Lots of times, my team’s heard me saying it a lot of times. But here we are today and we continue on. And so it’s about finding the way to be in that discomfort and to know that you’re not alone. And I hope that through this kind of town hall which we hope we will continue if you desire, you can build those deeper connections with each other over time.

Brea Heidelberg said that failure is an important and necessary part of the process, so we can’t be paralyzed by a fear of failure. It is gonna happen. You’re gonna make mistakes. She also helped us understand that when you are called out, it’s a gift, and that the response should be to listen, acknowledge and change your behaviour. And we were reminded again by JD and Jaqs at our recent board retreat, there’s no time for perfection, only change. Tyson also reminded us that not everyone is at the same place. Some people have been doing this work for years and others are just starting. JD often talks about the importance of going to where people are and not assuming everyone is at the same place, or assuming that everybody has to come up to where I might be. It just doesn’t work that way.

One of the things we also heard was an appreciation for the town halls, the importance of having accountable spaces, excuse me, where people can come together and share their thoughts. But we also heard from Wunmi Idowu. And please if I don’t pronounce your name right, correct me in the chat box but I’m going to say your name, I’m going to try to say it and not shy away from words that may be hard to say. We learned from Wunmi and others that there are a lot of conversations happening, but not enough action. Or more bluntly, by Ruby Lopez Harper, there’s been enough navel gazing, enough talk, now it’s time to get shit done.

Excuse me.

DJ Stagez reminded us that one of the side effects of racism is that people who are directly affected sometimes hide. And it’s important to have strategies in place to include people who are often left in the shadows. I thought it was an amazing comment and a really vivid reminder.

Toyin Oladele described some of many gaps for newcomers to Calgary. Many of them don’t even know where to start. And we heard from both her and Wunmi that we need to find ways to make our programs more visible to those who are new, to our country and to our city.

We learned about the importance of not putting additional work on BIPOC individuals and compensating them for their time. Lived experience has just as much value as work experience, as volunteer experience, why would we not compensate for that?

Tyson and others talked about the importance of centering voices of racialized and Indigenous folks. Nothing about us without us, especially at this time that we find ourselves in.

Melanee Murray-Hunt reminded us that marginalized people in the throes of survival often have the most powerful things to say about our society and some of the most creative and resourceful things to contribute.

And you know again so much of what we heard was so resonant and over the last several months. I’ve seen it happen over and over.

Jaqs talked about the importance of folks being able to show up, to be fully present and fully themselves without having to code their identities according to the spaces they attend. This is a really important learning and we are committing to continuing with our group agreements, and you saw them in the chat box. I’d encourage you to open them up and see if there’s ways that you can apply something like that in your own organization. You all have meetings. You all have gatherings. You all connect in different ways. Having these agreements is about recognizing who’s in the room and encouraging people to be who they are in that room.

We are also guided by our principles of EDIA work; diversity which equals a virtuous cycle, perpetuating a virtuous cycle, not a vicious one; equity is about one size fits one; inclusion is nothing about us without us; and accessibility equals designing for full participation. Our hope is that by sticking to those principles of EDIA, we do become a more equitable and inclusive system for Calgary’s arts sector to work with. Because again, we are not the whole system, we don’t work with everybody in the system, but we’re sure we are gonna try to live to those principles, those standards with all those who we work with and the things that we work within.

We’ll talk a bit later about a few more initiatives. I’m mindful of time and I want to make sure to leave a good chunk of time to talk about some of our current events. So I’m just gonna work through a few more of the things we heard. There was a lot. And I think we might try to find a way to maybe summarize this and put it on our site.

We heard about the water of white supremacy, or as Tyson described it, a fog, and the need for systemic changes. Jaqs reminded us how our governments, institutions and funding models are immersed in white supremacy, and they are, ours is. Ruby echoed this when she reminded us to stop thinking that white standards, Eurocentric white-culture-based infrastructures, norms, and how to do things are THE way to do things. It’s just A way to do things.

Melanee invited us to dig deeper into mental modes, to the fundamental level where there is a barrier in the community in general. She encouraged us to examine the historic anti-Black bias that is entrenched in our society. That one example is that we don’t recognize or acknowledge the contribution of African to Western culture.

Pamela Tzeng also suggested that these ideas of white supremacy start with youth, which caused me to reflect on the power of youth programs, like Our Canada, Our Story that Melanee was involved with, or MelVeeX’s Black Kid Joy, or the work Beni Johnson is doing with youth who want to break into the music industry—all programs we heard about at the town halls.

In the case for support to City Council for increased funding, we talked about economic, social, and youth impacts. We know the arts play an important role in the lives of Calgarians and we know that they promote a sense of belonging. It’s back to all our surveys and research that we asked you to fill out in many instances. We now know we are at an important time, especially around social impact to accelerate our EDIA work and to ensure the arts are for all Calgarians, not just some. And that CADA has a responsibility to uphold that and encourage that through the organizations that we work with, that we fund, that we connect to, that we interact with on an ongoing basis, and that includes all artists.

Tyra Erskine shared the four parts of accountability: reflection, apology, reparation, and changed behaviour. Ruby Lopez Harper and Brea Heidelberg talked about the importance of acknowledging who has been harmed by your organization and thinking about what your obligation is to heal that harm and build that bridge. For, let’s see we’ve been around since 2000, someone remind me, I think it’s 2006, so you know, give or take 16, 17 years. For the majority of that time, CADA has harmed individual artists because we basically didn’t feel like you existed and warranted your own funding. You had to be part of an organization. And it wasn’t until 2013/14, so eight years after we recreated, recrafted, that we actually had an individual artist program. So that’s an example of harm in the community, and many other communities in a similar way. So it’s important to reflect on that and to think about that, and how your actions may have caused harm regardless of your intention, because no one ever assumes that about anybody that you intend that harm. That doesn’t mean it’s not harm, or it’s not harmful. That’s what we were reminded of.

Tyson echoed this one and he said that white folks must take responsibility for how they have been complicit in, or interacted with forces even that have harmed people.

First meeting we did about the work that has been done, and to where we are now, gives you a bit of that reflection that we have done in our role. We still have work to do, but as I say often, we are public stewards of public dollars in the interest of the public good, which includes artists. And because of that, I feel a deep responsibility and accountability to ask all of those questions that I have just reflected on and that we were reminded of. And that’s what our team has been doing in a very thoughtful and I think deep way. We also acknowledge that our granting programs have barriers and have had barriers, and have been barriers, and biases since the beginning and that they have favoured White, Euro-centric art forms and arts organizations. The size of grant has often been correlated with the length of time an organization has been in a program. For years, we didn’t have enough money to go around and we still don’t by the way. So, but prior to 2019, it was a real challenge to invite new artists and new organizations into the fold, because we knew that it would either be about spreading the peanut butter thinner or displacing others who had been in the system. And in those moments, at that time, we did not feel like we could do that, and that speaks back to the fragility of the system overall that I spoke to earlier. Now, however, we do have more money and we have a greater understanding of the needs of the arts communities in the city and the disparity, and the gaps that exist within them. Part of the reparation that we are undertaking is the on-going development and redevelopment of the grant investment programs, all of them, but in particular, we are learning a lot from our ArtShare and OPIP programs that specifically target funds for equity-seeking communities.

We heard from Jessica McCann and Toyin Oladele that the ArtShare programs’ flexible application and reporting processes work well for them and they appreciated having the opportunity to build stronger relationships with the program officer. Grant writing can be a barrier and we heard from Mpoe Mogale that grant writing skills shouldn’t be the thing we’re assessing. Let’s ensure we are really assessing the idea, and not the grant writing skill.

Pam Tzeng suggested a mentorship program to help folks navigate their careers and the granting bodies we’ve been and the granting bodies. We’ve been looking into how we might be able to provide services to help people navigate their careers much in the way Pam suggested, or to address the gaps Toyin talked about. We don’t know exactly the form it is going to take yet, but it’s high on our list.

We’re also working hard to change our behavior and our culture, using the AROC Anti-racism, Organizational Change onion model for organizations. We’re looking at every aspect of our organization. And here are some of the questions that we’re holding.

We heard about a lack of representation of BIPOC on boards, staff, stages, offices, and particularly in decision-making and leadership positions. How can we incorporate more specific anti-racist HR policies, particularly in areas like equitable hiring processes and recruitment for board and staff, which also support the 35/50 initiative? How can we learn through our EDIA Census how to affect change in the sector as a whole? How can we help work with the sector, especially larger, more traditional organizations, for the time in the future when questions about their commitment to EDIA and anti-racism will directly affect their grant success? How do we incorporate EDIA into everyone’s work plans at CADA and create EDIA indicators to measure the impact of our work? How can we remove more barriers by having clearer and more extensive accommodation and accessibility options for applicants? How do we improve the representation, EDIA training, cultural understanding and processes for our grant assessments? How do we decolonize our programs?

We heard from Brea, Ruby, Tyra, Tyson, Jaqs and many others about the importance of language, and having a shared understanding of language. How do we ensure the use of plain language in our communications, including clarity about what we mean when we use words like equity, diversity, inclusion, accessibility and the many, many other words and terms we hear, we hear and heard about at the town halls? Would a micro-grant program better serve the needs of specific communities, or types of funding, and examples are newcomer communities, disability arts, etc. How do we move from being, how do we move beyond being an ally to becoming an accomplice in our anti-racism work? Knowing that there are things that CADA can and can’t do. How do we commit to deep listening and trying to influence our support when we can?

For example, we heard from Beni Johnson that there are not enough spaces for Black artists to do their work. And this was echoed by a number of other people. I don’t know what we can do specifically to address that concern. But knowing it, and confronting it, and acknowledging it opens up the possibilities for us to make introductions, for us to raise it with landlords and with other people who might hold space that could be available. Beni also told us about the stereotypes that he and Black men face constantly. We’ve seen that in the news right here in Calgary, very recently. He reminded us that Black is not a monolith, neither is Indigenous, and how it’s worth understanding individual cultures and not lumping all Black people together. This brings us to a phrase that Jaqs shared, and one that we had recently learned from JD that we have really come to love, and it’s the concept of cultural humility.

We will hold the principles of cultural humility closely as we do our work going forward and Jaqs credited Melanie Tervalon and Jann Murray-Garcia. It’s a lifelong commitment to learning and critical-self reflection, a desire to fix power imbalances, institutional accountability and mutual respect and partnership based on trust. And I’m just gonna say that last sentence again. Because, and think about this in your role as an artist, don’t you already do this through your practice? A lifelong commitment to learning and critical-self reflection, a desire to fix power imbalances, institutional accountability and mutual respect and partnership, based on trust.

Every great artist that I can think of, many of whom live in Calgary by the way, I would associate those principles with them. So, how do we make sure that is embedded in our arts sector? Because think about what the sector could be if they were. The principles that guide the ArtShare program are generosity, trust, learning, and reciprocity. We are examining how we can bring these principles into all of our programs as they are closely tied to this concept of cultural humility.

I got two more points, kids, hang in with me.

We heard that there is a lot of trauma in BIPOC communities. Tyson talked specifically about the need to create a community of care and shared many ideas on what that means. How can we contribute to creating conditions for a community of care in the arts sector? And Cesar Cala our other inclusive designer-in-residence, reminded us that anti-racism work is both an effort to dismantle, but it’s also there to reclaim and reconstruct, evolve and create. And he asked, as we look at dismantling some of the inequities that we see, how do we start reclaiming and constructing as well? He also suggests that the work done internally in organizations needs to happen simultaneously with our outside organizations, working on the kind of social change that we need across the community and throughout the city. And it’s why again I believe so strongly in arts-led city building. Artists should be at the tables when we talk about the city’s mental well-being, about our economic well-being, about how we can affect our youth. You should all be there in those discussions. That’s how we’ll get to being a better place for all of us, and not some of us.

So, that’s my brief glimpse. 57 minutes later. Thank you all for your patience and listening. We now are going to move into just talking about three particular initiatives that CADA’s working on right now and I’m just going to cue Cesar to get ready, because I’m going to hand off to you.

And three things, in particular, the cultural instigators, Citizen Artists YYC, and the community working group on equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility. Because I’ve been talking too much, I think I’m just going to be quiet now, and hand off to Cesar to talk about the first two: cultural instigators, Citizen Artists YYC, and then I’ll come back to talk about the community working group and open it up for Q&A.

So, Cesar, my friend, over to you.

Cesar Cala: Okay, thank you, Patti, for that comprehensive summary of CADA’s work but as well, over the years, and also the most recent conversations from the town halls.

I was just listening to the content that you talked about that we focused on from the town halls and we covered a lot of ground. And I think there’s so many things that we can pick up from, from the conversations, both in terms of our own individual work, but also organizationally, sector-wide, and also that we need to bring out into Calgary.

So, I will talk about two things: the Citizen Artists YYC initiative, as well as the cultural instigators. So I do have a slide deck that I want to share. And I think I can do that. Can I?

Okay. Is that on?

Okay, good. So, but before anything else, I also want to introduce two of the community instigate, cultural instigators who are with us today in this town hall meeting. Patti has also cited some of their contribution to the discussions in the previous town halls. So with us today are Jaqs Aquines and Pam Tzeng. So they will be part of this conversation as well. But I want to start with this. And a quote from Adrienne Maree Brown that, “Art is not neutral. It either upholds or disrupts the status quo and advancing or regressing justice.” So it’s important to really ground the actions that we’re trying to build around the nature of our practice, as well as artists and arts workers and also as citizens.

The other thing that I want to say is that as Patti mentioned, I think, in one of the town halls, mentioned that our work is both internal within our own organizations, or within our own smaller communities and affinity groups. But it’s also social that our effort is not to build, not just, or not to build the best organization that we can have anchored on on equity and on social justice. But we are at the end of the day, really trying to build social change, right? And those two things come hand in hand, that as we build our really good and responsive organizations that goes hand in hand with the social change work that needs to happen out there in the community around organizing more broadly, around building movements, around building coalitions of actions and so on. So those are really important, that’s why those are the premises of these two initiatives that I want to talk about.

So two initiatives that are both emergent and are both community facing, because again, understanding that in social change, it’s important that there is really long-term collective capacity in communities to sustain the work of social change and creating an anti-racist society, as well as having really responsive institutions that are trying to live the, live the claims of equity work right, so you need both.

And from my experience, in this work, oftentimes when you have public institutions that are leading social change issues and so on, that’s great, but oftentimes they are not sustainable. And are not deepened if the capacity of the communities themselves don’t have that strength to sustain the work, but also to make public institutions accountable, and to advocate for policy and systems change. So, these two initiatives are premised on that. They’re both emergent. And as we speak, we’re really starting to get some early learnings from both of them.

So I’ll start with. So they’re supported by, but not led by CADA, which is, I think, a really good setup for it, for these, for both of these.

So Citizen Artists YYC—what is this moment asking of us? JD and I started working more closely at the beginning of the year. And one of the things that we heard from conversations with people in the sector and people who kind of hover around the sector is the notion of safe spaces and brave spaces for conversation, but also for incubating ideas and possibly even actions. So when the pandemic hit, then, suddenly space became, space became quite different in terms of what we mean by that, and many artists find themselves in constricted spaces. And so this idea of bringing together folks into more of a virtual reality. And so, we started this, or started to convene this space, which we call Citizen Artists YYC in early June of 2020 and the question that we posed is, “What is this moment asking of us?”

Then after that, of course, as everybody knows, the murder of George Floyd happened in the US, and then the acceleration of protest, and the strengthening of Black Lives Matters movements in Calgary and elsewhere, so that, those two things kind of shaped the Citizen Artists YYC conversations. So it is, it is virtual for now. And so we hold space, and it has become a space for collective learning, sharing and the creative imagination of an artist-led movement for an anti-racist Calgary. So, so far we have probably more than 40 artists and many of you in this town hall have attended one or two, or all of the Chat & Chews – that’s what we call our weekly gatherings, have participated in the Citizen Artists weekly Chat & Chews. So, like the town hall, so we are, we are in a little bit of a break to find out what the sentiments are, the thoughts are, or the interests are, of where we will go with the Chat & Chews. There have been a number of interesting ideas on how to move forward that, but an important thing that has really incubated a lot of ideas that we can start working on.

And so, um, thanks Jaqs for putting this together.

How do I turn. Don’t call me. My cell phone is ringing.

Anyway, so, um, this just kind of summarizes some of the things that have transpired in the Citizen Artists YYC timeline.

We talked about brave spaces. And our discussions have really ranged from issues related to the issues that have been surfaced by Black Lives Matter, coping with COVID-19, anti-racism, how do we hold brave spaces, learning how to hold accountable spaces, right? And then we, and then something happened. But before, oops, how do I go back to this. Okay.

And so we started going into designing around the key question that one, several of the participants in the Chat & Chew raised. How do you build an anti-racist Calgary? And what is the role of an artist-led movement in all of that? So that set us off in, in many discussions, and in spurring and spawning many possible actions and initiatives that we can start exploring.

So Jaqs and Pam if you want to add on your own thoughts, please do so as well. So. But I can’t see you, so maybe if you could unmute your mics and just come in as well, that’s fine.

So, so the cultural instigators are kind of linked to the Citizen Artists YYC initiative. And so I like the idea of the word “instigators.” I come from, my background is community organizing and a lot of kind of community advocacy and activist work, so we often use the word “community organizing,” and “issue-based organizing.” But JD and I, when we started talking, we came, we kind of landed on the term, “instigators.” And it, when I started kind of researching what it means, so it means a lot, around inciting, provoking, bringing together, creating. So, it’s dynamic, it’s a dynamic kind of role, which really embodies the myriad roles that artists play in the community. Because their own work, the work of artists instigates it, the work incites and provokes and brings people together and creates. So, how do we use this kind of natural role of, or not use, but use it as a starting point of instigating social change?

Hi Pam. So, just in terms of a brief description, artist organizers, or artist citizens, cultural instigators, or artist citizens and organizers are learning and helping to build more collective capacity in the arts communities for equity, diversity, inclusion, accessibility, working on community projects for change. I think many of you are naturally cultural instigators. And so, so the two initiatives came hand in hand, as we move forward with a conversation in Citizen Artists YYC, a few of a number of artist participants have offered to take on more roles as instigators, so that’s how we started and we’ve started to build that together with help from CADA as well in terms of resourcing the work.

So, basically, we came out with three purposes, kind of, to frame the work of cultural instigators. So one is reimagining what equity-seeking artwork could look like, right? How do we reimagine and even instigate the emergence of an, and I’m sure there are already many of these, but how do you instigate more artwork that is equity-seeking and deliberate in terms of bringing people together and communities together to confront, but also to create. And then, building capacity for change in the various communities where artists are, including exploring what safe spaces are for building knowledge and building the sharing among artists and the community. And so for instance, with Citizen Artists YYC Chat & Chews, how will that evolve? Will it evolve into after all many different Chat & Chews, located in many different communities, facilitated by, led by artists, artists citizens themselves. And the third one is around developing willingness and capacity to share and expand knowledge from different communities, we’re learning a lot around what some of the things that have been shared in the town halls around building trust and solidarity across different communities, including, especially equity-seeking communities. How will, how can that look like, right? So this work has just started in the last two or three months, and we’re currently building up the team of cultural instigators to, to start instigating.

Pam and Jaqs, you want to add anything? Pam and Jaqs have been part of the cultural instigators’ work for the last few months.

Pam Tzeng: Um, I think I could add some things in the next few slides you’re sharing.

Cesar Cala: Sure.

And then this happened at the Chat & Chew. I’m sure we remember this moment, right, and I think it was Allan Rosales who posed this question right? And at the end of the day, what is an anti-racist Calgary? And how can artists help build a movement for an anti-racist Calgary, right? What is that all about?

And many ideas were starting to be shared, among them, and I think Sable led that, led this idea around, and she said that, actually, we really need to start thinking about the roots of EDIA in the Indigenous history of Mohkinstsis. Because there’s much, there’s a lot to that, that she talked about, you know, there were annual gatherings of people before settlers came in, where they would renew relationships to the land, relationships with each other, right, and and renew their commitment to the language. So that’s not part of Calgary Mohkinstsis history. So we have a lot of monuments around settlement, but we have very few monuments to the roots of EDIA, especially anchored on Indigenous history, and language, so that came about. That’s one idea.

And then one Wunmi and Melanee and many others talked about empowerment of Black artists, I think in the town hall summaries this has been shared as well, around the exclusion of many Black artists in the landscape of the arts and actual, actual opportunities to practice their art as well. And then ideas of, about the gathering of a conference on anti-racism arts. Building art as movements, actual physical movements within communities, among ourselves. And then researching to show a more equitable representation of art and artists in Calgary, because there are many, even in the way we talked about the sector, many are excluded. So those are the ideas that have started to emerge from the conversations when that question was posed. So we actually spent a number of Chat & Chews diving into this. And then something I, I’ve…

What’s happening here? Oops.

Jaqs Aquines: Sorry you just gotta press it like 22 times.

Cesar Cala: Thank you, Jaqs.

Jaqs Aquines: I didn’t know it was copied over the animation.

Cesar Cala: This reminded us about what Adrienne Maree Brown was talking about around emergent strategies, right, about how do you actually look at what’s, and I talked about the purple arrow, so what’s emerging from the landscape, from the actual living history that we’re looking at, from the things that are that are emerging from the, from the ground up, from the realities of the day, right, and how that we need to be responsive but also be, be humble, to learn what those are telling us. So that this can then really shape our actions, and have the capacity to, to change course, to be fluid, to be responsive to emergent realities. And so that our strategies are based on the realities of the times, rather than on strategies that are based on notions that have become false, probably, or that have become disconnected to the emergent realities and I think some of these ideas have emerged from that thinking.

And so, and then we met penguins. I think it was Pam who started talking to us about this.

You want to talk about this, Pam? Maybe this one, I can bring it in.

Pam Tzeng: Sure. So I think I’ve mentioned this and Jaqs has mentioned this in the town halls and also other virtual encounters of many folks and community, which is the work, the words of Janaya Future Khan, who is an international ambassador for the Black Lives Matter movement, and they talked about the power of penguins. And the way penguins organize themselves to take care of those who are most vulnerable. So in the Antarctic, to like survive the Antarctic freeze, those, they huddle together, and spiral and move to keep their heat; and those who are the hottest on the inside will move towards the outside, and those who are the most cold are spiralled inward to the centre. And that’s how they take care of those who are most vulnerable. And this, Janaya described this as the way in which we, in this moment, need to organize, is to consider that at the centre that we need to care for the Indigenous people, and then those who are Black, and then People of Colour and then, that those who have had more privilege to be on the outside, attending to and supporting in solidarity those at the centre. This became kind of the framework in which we developed how we would move forward with the cultural instigators foundationally, and as well through which, in the next slide.


Cesar Cala: This is the slide, right?

Pam Tzeng: There’s that slide. And so the way we would organize for imagining a really larger scale project that envisions an anti-racist Calgary. So this actual graphic is designed by Jaqs. And it shows the penguin spiral formation as a way of community organizing and it’s a visualization of a grant that was prepared for the City of Calgary anti-racism capacity building fund, which was kind of spearheaded, and like, visioned by Citizen Artists YYC, and then members of the cultural instigators who helped just get that grant in. So, you can see at the centre of the spiral you have the Indigenous-led project and framework that is speaking about colonial narratives related to monuments and land, and land use policy in Calgary. And then we have a Black-led empowerment project. And then, and then we have racialized non-Black and non-Indigenous project, and then grappling, which is this fourth one, which would be accessible to all to participate in. And then we have a coalition of partners on the outside.

And Jaqs, do you have anything to contribute to this?

Jaqs Aquines: I wanted to add to how consistently, even though I was part of the Anti-racist Organizational Change project for four years, I never was fully aware that anti-racism is an emergent process until I joined the CI, really, because it’s a, the anti-racism framework itself is consistently undoing and unlearning white supremacy and learning how urgency or how the way, or a way has become the, you know, a consistent expectation of how we do things. And, this project and working with the other instigators has made it very clear that saying, Okay, let’s just slow down here. Why is this urgent? And does it need to be urgent? And then reassessing how the process unfolds. And who’s at the table and what voices are being heard? And who’s contributing to each layer?

Really made it clear that every, every little arrow in that emergent strategy diagram is, every decision that’s been, I guess, collaborated on with every, with each project we work on. So to add to this diagram, I think it’s a great way of understanding how consistently centering Black and Indigenous voices guides and reminds us that we are here because of colonialism. We are here, and working against the system that has been created to serve a certain narrative, but now shifting that is, we have to be intentional and move with like recorrecting course every time, because like there are tendencies, like all of us have tendencies on how we want to operate. So, it is being consistently grounded and mindful, because that’s how our relationships can be maintained with each other as well, which is essential to the community organizing, the community of care that Patti also mentioned that Tyson mentioned. Yeah, we’re only gonna be able to create these changes, this anti-racist future of Calgary, through our relationships with each other, through community and, and that starts with how we, how we meet each other, and each other’s humanity. That’s my final thought for now.

Cesar Cala: So we have adapted this as both an organizing framework in recruiting cultural instigators for instance, and also supporting initiatives in the communities and so on. As Jaqs and Pam mentioned, it is around centering Black and Indigenous voices, and capacities, and learnings as well. Looking at this, as you know, the, the importance of self-organizing within these different spiral elements and supporting self-organizing, because what we’re really finding out is that this notion of solidarity also hinges on strength from each of the communities, right? That solidarity really is strengthened by stronger capacities within each of these spirals as well, so that the issues that are important to them, are surfaced. And we are also linking this to policy asks, like for instance, in terms of monuments and language, land use in Calgary, in Mohkinstsis is an important piece of policy that keeps on marginalizing the history of First Nations, of Indigenous communities in Calgary as well.


Okay, but we are also, we are also using this as a project planning tool. So, once we have really said thank-you to the penguins in giving us this insight, we decided to respond to The City of Calgary’s anti-racism capacity building proposal, and using that framework to bring together a project, a comprehensive project that uses this framework to claim public resources for this important work of artist-led social change, an artist-led movement for anti-racism. And so that’s where we are at the moment. We actually landed with the name of the proposal that we brought together for the city. And so we call it “Bringing power to truth.” This was first used by Action Dignity in Our Canada, Our Story. And so it’s important because oftentimes artists are, artists are set to play the role of speaking truth to power. And oftentimes, that gets tokenized, or, or what do you call it, or tolerated that artist, through their art can confirm and can speak truth to power. But I think the next part is often not talked about. How do you actually bring power to truth so that change can happen. How do you bring power to truth seekers around organizing and their capacity to impact systems and policy? So that’s what we call the project. Hopefully, we get resources. Or we could cobble together a spiral of resources to support this project.

Okay, I. We did a lot of talking, but any last thoughts, Jaqs and Pam, before we hand it over to Patti again.

We’re good. Okay, thanks. We, I did come up with this set of questions that maybe Patti can use, anyway around, but I think she will also talk about the community working group, right?

Patti Pon: Yeah, I will. Thank you, Cesar. If you could leave that slide up though, I think that might be a good, people can have a look at those questions and maybe add any thoughts. I also know that another question came up. I talked about 35/50 earlier on. And some people aren’t sure what that is, or don’t know what that is. So I’ll talk a bit about that.

The third component that Cesar referenced is the community working group on equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility. And earlier on, I spoke to Brea talking about how imperative it is to have an equity statement for an organization. And, again, so, for those of you who are with organizations, you know, maybe that’s a future town hall to talk about, you know, what it takes to craft one for your organization. We certainly have been working on one for quite some time.

The learnings from the town hall are something that we want to use to influence and impact us in this respect. And the community working group is going to be a group of individuals from the community who will help us and be another set of voices that can advise us as we undertake the crafting of that statement which is the next priority that we are working on. They’ll be working in concert with an internal staff working group that has already formed and met a number of times, particularly around the organization of these town halls. And I do want to thank each of you who were a part of that for helping us.

This was yet another new thing on top of many new things that happened this year. And I’m very grateful for that. In particular, today, I just wanted to thank Helen. She has helped me immensely in helping create what we call show flows, which is just laying out the order and the kinds of topics we’ll discuss. And today in particular, what you heard me read from on our EDIA journey was Helen crafting all of that, from the over, let’s see, 10 hours of town hall transcripts and meetings, all of which are the recordings, still exist on our website. So you can watch previous town halls, if you like. Particularly, well, they were all great, but Brea and Ruby’s was really great.

So thank you all very much on the internal staff team.

So, the working group. It will help accelerate our EDIA work in addressing a lot of concerns that we heard about in the summer. As I said, Ruby talked about the need for a formal explicit EDIA statement. That is the hallmark of our intentionality around our EDIA work. I would say that even though we’ve been working quite intently intentionally since 2016, it’s kind of been under the radar. We haven’t been super transparent and vocal about it until now, and we need to be. And an equity statement will help us continue to do that and hold ourselves to that kind of hallmark. Creating the EDIA statement is at the top of our list. It’s one of our priorities and this working group will be that sounding board for us in these first steps.

Some of you may have seen the call for members to join that committee, it was an application process. I have to say we were just tremendously humbled by the caliber and the thoughtfulness of the applications that we received. We received many, many more than I thought we would. And so as a result, it’s taken us quite a bit of time and some of you may very well be individuals who applied. Thank you so much. A small internal group has met, and we have identified the initial membership of that group and we’re currently in the process of reaching out to everybody who applied so you will hear from us, one way or the other, and very soon.

So, again, I thank you for applying, and we will share the work of that community working group in the days to come. I also just wanted to thank Cesar, and Jaqs, and Pam, for taking the time to talk about the cultural instigators and the Citizen Artists YYC projects. That penguin metaphor is amazing. I love that this group got together and wrote this grant. And I’m very eager and keen to see what is happening there. Thank you, Pam for articulating what the 35/50 initiative is, and Jaqs for putting the website in. So if you go to the chat box, for those who asked about what 35/50 is, the information is there in the chat box, so I won’t repeat it.

We’re at 4:47, so we do have some time for some open conversation or discussion.

So I’m just going to move my chat box over here.

So, for those of you who participated in previous town halls, maybe what you heard today, we would welcome your insights and your thoughts on what you heard, or if there are other questions you have, I welcome those at this time. I see in my show flow Wunmi and Tyson, were trying to get in and they got stuck in the waiting room. And I’m not sure I don’t see them in the participants list, so hopefully, we will find a way or they will get to see the recordings, but I’m sorry I just saw that statement now that’s probably been here for a while.

Does anybody have any thoughts or any questions that they’d like to share? I kind of feel like this is a, a bit of a closing of the loop with respect to this summer’s town halls. And we started our very first town hall with opening it up to questions from the community and so I would welcome any thoughts or insights, or, anxieties, maybe that that you feel like you might be okay to share and and that includes members of my team by the way if there was anything you wanted to add to what I articulated in our journey I would welcome that from any of you.

I’m doing a scan a little bit harder to do when we have the piece up. Anyone, anything, anybody from the team who wants to make a comment or say anything?

Just scanning, scanning. Cesar, Jaqs or Pam, anything more you wanted to add to what you’ve already discussed with respect to your experiences, or the work that’s, or the conversations that have happened so far?

Hi Pam.

Pam Tzeng: I can. Hi, I can add just a little bit, a note about 35/50 briefly which is just. This initiative is kind of grounded at first by a coalition of artists in the dance and theatre communities. And, but it’s meant to be kind of open source and adaptable across disciplines. And so, though, the actions that 35/50 is pretty like specific towards performing arts companies just understanding and taking ownership and accountability to the framework that we’re working with in terms of what is provided in the letter, this letter, this action is meant to be adaptable and used across the sector. So it’s highly encouraged that if you’re in, from the visual arts or music that working towards 35% BIPOC representation in your organizations, and 50% women and non-binary is viable.

And it’s a, it’s really challenging work and we understand that there’s a lot of barriers to it. But if we all take this as a prompt to kind of look internally and if you really look at the stats of and track records of a non-profit organization’s trajectory, the story is very clear. I highly recommend checking out. Theatre Alberta made a publication of the Citadel’s commitment to the 35/50, and the response is really encouraging and if you’re looking for inspiration, that is somewhere, something to read.

Jaqs Aquines: There’s one more thing that I wanted to add. Thanks for that, Pam.

And this is just a word that I learned from Jarett Twoyoungmen when we were writing this, that grant proposal was. Oh, wait is this (oganagan, oganagan) and I was saying it wrong. It’s in Nakoda. I will get it right but I would love to learn this word and Blackfoot and Tsuut’ina. But, it refers to the displacement of people, how we’re all scattered, how we refer to the Aho Nakoda being scattered, and this probably leads some insight to how the 35/50 could be a successful initiative by 2024 if we do rebuild and work on our relationships and renew relationships with each other. Because that’s the best way that we can build out that, those numbers in our organizations and our communities. Because it, it’s one thing to engage from a top down level, but if you actually know people, and people trust you and know that your organization and your intentions are coming from a place of deep commitment to changing how things are. I think that’s a great way to understand how we’re gonna work together.

Thanks Patti. Thanks CADA team and Cesar and Pam for putting it all together and I hope we continue these.

Patti Pon: Thanks so much Jaqs and Pam for that added piece. Pam’s put another link in under the chat box.

We have another question about, “Where can folks send suggestions for future town hall topics? What’s the best email address or if you want to provide feedback?”

We have an email address, and maybe someone from the team can put it in, If you send it to that email address, it comes to me, and Sarah, and Helen—the other members of our leadership team. So, EDIA is a commitment that we are making right at, throughout our organization.

As I said earlier, JD and Jaqs were at our board retreat recently on September 22 – Treaty Day for making, for Treaty 7. And we spent the whole morning talking about our work in EDIA. And that was really the first time, and it’s 2020, we started this work in 2016. So, there is a commitment at the leadership level in our organization to continue this work. So that email address, that email comes to us, and we would welcome any suggestions that you have. Just in the conversations among ourselves, it feels like when we have guest panels or topics, there appears to be more of a membership. So that’s the learning, and I would take that to the community working group, which will be a group that meets with me, by the way, as the, the CEO of this organization, because we really wanted to ensure that the voices around that table were directly connected to the leadership in the organization at the top most level.

So again, for those of you who are thinking about “Well, how do I even introduce this conversation? How do I connect it to our team?” All those things. The first conversation if you aren’t already, the artistic director, or the executive director, or the CEO to have a conversation with your artistic director, your executive director, or your CEO, or your board chair. Get that commitment to make the change. And if you need to haul me in to have that conversation, or a member of our team, once again voluntell them, we will be a part of that conversation. The ability to be able to speak about our journey, and our experiences from whatever perspective we bring, I hope it might be a helpful one for our community.

Thanks. Asia for the heart, design, I take it that means you might be taking us up on that offer, which is awesome. Unless there’s any other comments. I’m looking at the shared Doc. I don’t see any having come to any of our teammates. Helen I’m saying this out loud. Am I missing anything there? I don’t think I’ve forgotten anything.

Helen Moore-Parkhouse: Nope.

Patti Pon: There was a lot there.

So maybe on that note, again, thank you all very much for being a part of the journey today for those of you who have joined us in previous town halls. Again, thank you for, for being with us, and, well, and just being a part of this experience. There’s more work to be done for sure. Remember about what it is to live in that discomfort. That is a reality and I think all of us have discovered what it is to live in discomfort. Thank you very much, COVID-19.

So, you’re all here, so I know you can do it. I know you have that resiliency. And I also know that we’re all here together in this space, so thank you for being with us today.

Many thanks to everybody that it takes to put this town hall on. You know who you are. I’m really grateful. And until next time, and there will be a next time. I hope you all have an amazing rest of the day, and rest of the week and an awesome happy turkey day. We’ll see y’all later.


00:22:33 CADA Taylor Poitras (she/her) ACTIVE BYSTANDER:
Group Agreements and Instructions:

00:23:19 CADA Taylor Poitras (she/her) ACTIVE BYSTANDER:
Accountable Spaces Guidelines (AROC):

00:24:43 jaqs Aquines:
Thanks so much, Greg 🙂

00:25:26 CADA Taylor Poitras (she/her) ACTIVE BYSTANDER:
More info on Active Bystander training:

00:25:31 jaqs Aquines:
thank you, Taylor! 🙂

00:25:57 CADA Taylor Poitras (she/her) ACTIVE BYSTANDER:

00:25:58 CADA Taylor Poitras (she/her) ACTIVE BYSTANDER:
The Centre for Sexuality sometimes offers workshops (
CommunityWise are also further developing bystander training tools to accompany their Anti-Racist Organizational Change Training.
The Unlearning Channel has a great podcast which can be accessed on Community Wise’s website:

00:43:22 CADA Taylor Poitras (she/her) ACTIVE BYSTANDER:
FNMI – First Nations, Metis and Inuit

00:46:17 CADA Amy Jo (she/hers):

00:46:37 CADA Taylor Poitras (she/her) ACTIVE BYSTANDER:
Folks asked for the spelling for the dinner, art, dialogue series: Common Ground / Aisinna’kiiks

00:46:59 CADA – Gregory Burbige (he/him):
It’s long, but so fun!!! Also, you can enter to win one of 5 $400 gift cards

00:47:13 CADA – Gregory Burbige (he/him):
Arts administrators, Arts Educators, Artists!

00:47:15 CADA Taylor Poitras (she/her) ACTIVE BYSTANDER:
(Took me 45 mins to be honest but its worth it)

00:47:25 CADA Taylor Poitras (she/her) ACTIVE BYSTANDER:
Just me?! Hahaha 😉

00:49:25 CADA – Gregory Burbige (he/him):
We also use the information in the survey to help inform grant program design and CADA policies, on top of building our case for support for the City Council. For the first time, our survey has specific focus areas on individuals with disabilities, racialized arts professionals, and how gender informs the living and working conditions of arts professionals.
The deadline is October 16th:

00:52:46 CADA – Gregory Burbige (he/him):

00:54:35 CADA Taylor Poitras (she/her) ACTIVE BYSTANDER:
In case that link got lost: Emergent Strategy can be found here: (the e-book is quite affordable)

01:00:38 CADA Taylor Poitras (she/her) ACTIVE BYSTANDER:
With the group agreements we’ve shared you can also suggest alternative language, additions, or feedback on them since they are meant to be iterative and adapted for each shared space or situation as needed.

01:21:11 Cada Tech Marc:
If you find yourself stuck in the waiting room, please close zoom and then relaunch the meeting, the waiting room has been disabled to make things easier with the tech difficulties today.

01:34:29 CADA Taylor Poitras (she/her) ACTIVE BYSTANDER:
It was Allan 🙂

01:50:57 jaqs aquines (she/they):

01:51:11 jaqs aquines (she/they):
(Co-created by Pam) 🙂

01:51:43 Pam Tzeng (she/her):
The 35//50 Initiative is a coalition of BIPOC artists across Alberta who believe in representation as an actionable plan. Over the next three years, we are committed to seeing our civic landscape more equitably reflected in our professional landscape: a minimum of 35% BIPOC and 50% women or nonbinary people in paid, professional positions. Hence the 35//50 Initiative. While our main focus is on BIPOC representation within our city we firmly believe in intersectionality and that this work can also advance gender equity.

02:02:34 Barbara Amos: Re the Reflective Questions:
The circle/cycle, the penguin model, was new to me and I would like to hear more about it. Power to truth is an important concept. There was a lot of good content. Thanks to all. I have a 5pm meeting and must go.

02:02:49 Pam Tzeng (she/her):

02:03:29 CADA Taylor Poitras (she/her) ACTIVE BYSTANDER:

02:07:02 CADA Taylor Poitras (she/her) ACTIVE BYSTANDER:
Random share: I watched this panel talk today and it was pretty great “state of the arts: impacts of 2020”:

02:07:07 Joe Slabe (Forte Musical Theatre):
Thanks for all the info and for guiding this work!

02:07:28 CADA Taylor Poitras (she/her) ACTIVE BYSTANDER:
Thanks Cesar, Jaqs and Pam!

Watch the Past Anti-Racism Virtual Town Halls

EDIA Email

Group Agreements

More Active Bystander Training

The Centre for Sexuality

CommunityWise’s Website

Emergent Strategy
Shaping Change, Changing Worlds

35//50 Initiative

Theatre Alberta
Who Are We Now

State of the Arts: Impacts of 2020

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