What a year! 2020 has brought to light many things for our Tri-Cities communities. In the face of a pandemic with far-reaching impacts, in our communities we found resilience, connections, support and hope.
As we reflect on this past year and look forward to a new year, I hope you’ll join us in exploring some questions that can help guide our community as we move forward to 2021.
Support and Commitment in Our Tri-Cities Communities
The pandemic highlighted and exacerbated the inequalities that have long been in our society. We saw dramatic rates of job loss, food insecurity and overt racist attacks take place in our communities. But we also saw a renewed sense of determination from our community members.
We witnessed our business community, not-for-profit organizations, community foundations, leaders, volunteers and residents come together to:
- Support each other
- Find innovative ways to pivot their services and programs
- Acknowledge the contributions and efforts of our essential workers
During this pandemic, we witnessed what the true meaning of community is. One that lifts each other up and one that relies on each other’s strengths to persevere.
How to Improve our Systems, to Best Help the People Who Need Them
But we know that we need to continue to address the inequalities that are now clearly evident. Our communities need to learn and grow to find sustainable solutions to these inequities. In the summer of 2020, the Tri-Cities Local Immigration Partnership (TCLIP) held virtual dialogues where we learned how our systems were designed and created to handle these inequities.
So, how do we intentionally re-design these systems to be more inclusive and equitable? How do we open ourselves to change and move from our comfort zone, and to challenge our societal norms?
Some of you might be saying, “Whoa! Slow down, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Here’s the thing, it might not be broken for you, but it is for someone else. So, how can we re-imagine this system, this society to work for everyone in our communities so we can all thrive, not just survive? And with societal changes, we know there can’t be a quick fix. It is a long, arduous process that requires us to commit and create opportunities that will see change from our policies to our individual actions.
So, What’s Next?
One of the things we learned during those dialogues is that we need to hear from the people that have been most impacted. Speaking from personal experience, I tend to jump in and fix issues and create solutions, but is that just perpetuating the norm?
Can we take a step back and involve the voices of those we don’t typically hear from, the under-represented voices who are more deeply impacted by any solutions we create?
Can we ask them for their ideas on what solutions may be possible, and work with them to co-design those solutions?
At TCLIP, we’ve been working at creating safe spaces for new, diverse voices to be engaged and included. From book clubs to the Diversity in Leadership project to our Immigrant Advisory Table, we continue to look for new ways to involve diverse voices in our work. After all, “nothing about me without me.”
This new blog is another way in which we can help amplify those voices to share their thoughts and ideas on our Tri-Cities community. We invite members of our diverse community to share lessons and insights on how to move us towards building a more equitable, diverse and inclusive community.
The Community Voices blog aims to present different perspectives on issues that matter to the Tri-Cities community, whether you participated in a local event, sharing a newly-discovered resource or talking about what diversity and inclusion means to you.
We want to hear from you! Our team will be happy to support you, whether it’s proofreading or helping get a point across. Want to share something on this blog? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your voice matters!
Abigail Cameron is the Manager for the Tri-Cities Local Immigration Partnership. She identifies as a settler in the traditional, unceded territory of the Kwikwetlem First Nation, a mother, daughter, partner and an immigrant who came to Canada in those awkward teen years, looking for ways to belong to a new culture. She is passionate about community engagement as a way to deepen one’s sense of belonging.