Black Lives Matter.
The SHORE Centre team stands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.
We recognize that anti-Black racism is not only inherent in systems like government and justice, but also in the education, healthcare, and social work fields of which we are a part. Reproductive gains for white women often come at the expense of Black, Indigenous, and people of colour (BIPOC) community members’ health and safety – for example, the field of modern gynaecology began with involuntary and torturous experiments on enslaved Black women.
We often use the terms “pro-choice” and “reproductive justice” interchangeably, but they are, in fact, different. Choice is a privilege that BIPOC often do not have access to when facing an unplanned pregnancy. Reproductive justice, a term created by and for women of colour, is an intersectional framework that asks feminists to centre the most marginalized people, families, and communities. We cannot claim to be doing reproductive justice work without being explicitly anti-racist in our approach.
In the United States, Black women are three times more likely to die in childbirth than white women. It is likely that Black women in Ontario are at a similar risk, but we have no data to support that theory because the province of Ontario does not collect race-based health data. SHORE Centre joins the calls for the Government of Ontario to declare anti-Black racism a public health crisis and immediately begin the collection of race-based data in healthcare.
Additionally, we support Black Lives Matter Waterloo Region in their demands to defund the police budget by at least the last three years of increases and reallocate those funds to community-led initiatives, and remove police officers from schools and community centres. Participants in our after-school youth programs have shared with us the trauma caused by school resource officers and the over-policing of their neighbourhoods. BIPOC in our community deserve to live their lives free from harassment and ongoing violence.
We wish to hold ourselves accountable for deconstructing white supremacy within our organization. In an effort to address instances of racism, discrimination and bias in our organization, these are some of the actions we are taking:
- Staff, board, volunteer, and student participation in ongoing anti-racism training
- Updates to the process for hiring and onboarding of staff, board, volunteers and students, including an active approach to recruit racialized people
- Changes to our demographic data collection to better understand gaps in our services
- Updates to our Strategic Plan to include anti-racist language and initiatives
It is our duty to educate ourselves and not rely on BIPOC to teach us. We must build anti-racism into the foundation of everything we do. We also need to accept feedback without causing further harm. If you want to anonymously share your experiences with our organization please click here. We want this statement to act as our launching point. We are committed to the ongoing process of unlearning racism and using our actions to counter the systemic racism that exists in Waterloo Region.