By Janet Rock of Propellus, The Volunteer Centre of Calgary
New research recently released by the Volunteer Centre of Calgary tells us something that won’t surprise anyone who has been working on decolonization, or anti-racism. Volunteers who identify as Black, Indigenous, Asian or as a Person of Colour experience barriers as they engage with charities and non-profits.
Volunteers who participated in the research are board members, one-time volunteers and everyone in between. They volunteer everywhere from small grassroots organizations to large recognizable organizations. There are no exceptions. The barriers are systemic.
Join CCVO and VolunteerConnector for a virtual panel discussion
Nonprofit Connections: An Anti-Racist Approach to Volunteering
April 26 at 1:00 PM
Learn more on the CCVO website.
Volunteering has a good reputation. We tell people it’s the way to gain experience and share skills. Volunteering is fundamental to what we value as a pillar of Canadian society, isn't it? It can be all of these things, but let’s face it. It’s also a colonized practice that pre-dates the formation of our country. The concept was born at the same time as volunteering for the military. This association may have thinned over time, but its direct origins in violent white supremacy should be considered when we look to understand the experiences of volunteers today.
It’s time we listen to the voices of volunteers who tell us that volunteering contributes to their sense of belonging, yet is made more traumatic by organizational practices. This is an opportunity for settlers who work inside of these organizations and systems to change policy, undo racist practices, and decolonize our work. Volunteer Engagement is no exception. In fact, given that 13.5 million Canadians participate in it every year, it should be a priority.