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A Framework for Equity, Diversity, Inclusion
Business and Arts Newfoundland and Labrador (BANL) believes that the arts, and all forms of cultural expression, have a unique role to play in advancing our understanding and support of the principles of equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) in our creative practices. The arts can bring challenging and different perspectives to the advancement of EDI. BANL has a uniquely important role in supporting this discussion by helping arts organizations with governance and leadership built on EDI principles. We note here that decolonization should be deeply embedded in the commitment to EDI principles and practices.
Through its focus on assisting arts organizations with best governance practices and with facilitating sound, sustainable operations, BANL wishes to foreground the importance of a commitment to EDI in our communities.
Several edits of this document took place as a result of paid consultation with members of equity-seeking groups in our community. We thank these individuals and organizations for their time, their openness, and their insights.
Accessibility: People are not excluded from using something on the basis of experiencing a disability; they can do what they need to do in a similar amount of time and effort as someone who does not have a disability. It means that people are empowered, can be independent, and will not be frustrated by something that is poorly designed or implemented. It also means designing structures that are attentive to needs of people with disabilities.
Anti-Racism: Opposing racism and promoting racial equality.
Decolonization: A long-term process involving the bureaucratic, cultural, linguistic and psychological divesting of colonial power.
Diversity: The traits and characteristics that make people unique mark their difference, their diversity. Diversity in the workplace or in an arts organization describes the variation in personal, physical, and social characteristics, such as gender, ethnicity, age, and education.
Equity: In a diverse field, whether arts- or business-based, people require support in different ways. People from marginalized groups often have more barriers to overcome when accessing resources and opportunities than those from dominant or more privileged groups. Equity-inspired design identifies barriers and inequities and helps to elevate the people on the margins to fully participate, and creates spaces for meaningful (sometimes difficult) conversations that enable better understanding.
Inclusion: Inclusion is about value, about honouring the quality of human experience. Inclusion is critical for diversity to succeed. Creating an inclusive culture generates productivity and well-being, where all individuals who wish to contribute can do so.
LGBTQ2SIA+: An acronym for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Transsexual, Queer and Questioning Two-Spirit, Intersex, Asexual, Plus people.
Systemic Inequities: Systemic Inequities: Systems, policies, practices and procedures such as laws, regulations, and unquestioned social structures tend to normalize or hide inequities.
Universal Design: The design and composition of an environment so that it can be experienced, understood, and used to the greatest extent possible by all people regardless of their age, size, ability, or disability.
A strategy for advancing EDI in our communities should take into account both our past and present moment, but should also look ahead to social and cultural trends. We support increasing immigration to our province, and need to assess the way newcomers are welcomed, introduced, and integrated into all facets of our society. We need to be vigilant about how the Truth and Reconciliation Committee’s calls to action are or are not being advanced, how the persistence of racism and xenophobia harm efforts to create an inclusive civil society, and we need to acknowledge the fluidity of gender categories.
This framework document is being forged in a moment of radical social unrest and change, as the time-honoured structures and assumptions of colonialism, race and class difference are being challenged everywhere, from the streets to the classroom and board room. A global pandemic has put into stark relief the pervasiveness of inequities and social injustice; these are threaded through virtually every aspect of our lives, whether we have recognized them or not.
The 2016 Canadian Census is the most recent detailed enumeration of the Canadian residents. The next census is scheduled for 2021, and will, undoubtedly, reveal significant increase in the immigrant population to all of Canada, including to Newfoundland and Labrador.
According to the 2016 Census, there were 7,540,830 foreign-born individuals living in Canada who had arrived through the immigration process, representing over one-fifth (21.9%) of Canada’s total population. This proportion is close to the 22.3% recorded during the 1921 Census, the highest level since Confederation. In 2016, the Atlantic provinces were home to 2.3% of all recent immigrants in Canada. Each of the Atlantic provinces received its largest number of new immigrants, which more than doubled the share of recent immigrants in this region in 15 years.
The 2016 census identifies Newfoundland and Labrador as being the most linguistically homogeneous province in Canada, with 97.0% of residents reporting English (Newfoundland English) as their mother tongue. The majority of residents are descendants from (other) places in North America and the British Isles. The largest ethnic group in Newfoundland and Labrador is English (39.4%), followed by Irish (19.7%), Scots (6.0%), French (5.5%), and First Nations (3.2%). In Labrador, where the majority of Indigenous people reside, the Indigenous languages Innu-aimun and Inuktitut are also spoken.
Human habitation in Newfoundland and Labrador can be traced back about 9,000 years. Partly because of its geographical uniqueness, but largely because of familiar patterns of colonial settlement, such a long timeline of habitation has discouraged diversity in the population. Notable is the government’s official commitment to diversifying the population.
The Way Forward on Immigration in Newfoundland and Labrador” is a five-year, collaboration- and partnership-driven roadmap for increasing immigration to 2,500 newcomers by 2022. It is premised on the objectives of improving immigration outcomes and immigration services for increased newcomer attraction and retention. Informed by input from employers, industry and sector groups, cultural communities, labour, K-12 and post-secondary, as well as municipal and federal government and other partners, this action plan recognizes that successful immigrant attraction and retention entails leadership on all fronts: increasing immigration to Newfoundland and Labrador is the responsibility of all stakeholders.https://www.gov.nl.ca/immigration/files/ImmigrationInitiatives201920web.pdf
In June, 2021, the Provincial Government increased investments to support work to welcome 5,100 newcomers per year by 2026, including employment training, foreign qualification recognition, language training, cultural supports, supports to help navigate the immigration system, and with settlement and integration.
Recent data indicates that newcomers to the province are arriving from East and Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and Latin, Central, and South American regions. The visual landscape of St. John’s is obviously changing, as more and more racialized minorities take up residency, pursue undergraduate and particularly graduate studies at Memorial University, and occupy positions in the workforce. International talent, supported by government and post-secondary immigration and recruitment efforts, has been welcomed, largely benefitting the provincial labour force, economy and increasing cultural diversity within communities – including the arts sectors.
The 2021 Census will reveal so much more about demographic changes in the Canadian and provincial context, undoubtedly illuminating a new multicultural reality. To date, data on the provincial government site is remarkably skimpy on these changes, offering population statistics only on age and gender. The interactive map on the StatCan site does indicate immigration country of origin in NL for 2017, suggesting the trend of a more diverse local population. With increased immigration, naturally comes increased representation from racialized individuals, ethnic and religious minorities.
BANL cannot draft an EDI framework without acknowledging the province as the ancestral homelands Mi’kmaq, Beothuk, Inuit and Innu. The 2015 report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) identified 94 Calls to Action. These calls have in turn generated many activities aimed at honouring the findings of the TRC, but in 2019 also reveals “dreadful progress” has been made. The former chair of the TRC, Senator Murray Sinclair, did acknowledge it would take generations to make the changes in Canadian society called for in the report. It is worth noting, in the context of BANL, these two calls directed at the arts and business communities respectively:
63. We call upon the Canada Council for the Arts to establish, as a funding priority, a strategy for Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists to undertake collaborative projects and produce works that contribute to the reconciliation process.
92. Ensure that Aboriginal peoples have equitable access to jobs, training, and education opportunities in the corporate sector, and that Aboriginal communities gain long-term sustainable benefits from economic development projects.
It is well worth asking ourselves how far Canada and the Province have come to honouring these calls to action, how directly, mindfully, our local cultural industries and business practices have responded to them.
The publication of Demographic Diversity of Artists in Canada in 2016 by the Canada Council underscores the inequities in the arts sector. This report, based on data from the 2016 census, focuses on four demographic groups of artists: women, Indigenous people, members of racialized groups, and members of official language minority groups. The report points out that not only are these demographic groups underrepresented in the arts in Canada, but those who do participate earn well below the already low median salaries of dominant groups.
Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
BANL would like to ask to what degree do our arts and business communities reflect the changing face of Canada, the changing face of NL, and our acknowledgment and implementation of the calls to action of the TRC.
How can we ensure that BANL is creating opportunities for full participation in equity-seeking groups (including but not limited to women, racialized peoples, Indigenous peoples, people with diverse gender and/or sexual orientation identities, and people of all abilities) in both the arts and business communities?
BANL commits to the principles and practices of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.
This is our expressed commitment to the transformational change necessary to advance equity, diversity, inclusion, and decolonization by those within the communities we serve. It is a recognition of the urgent need for our communities to transform experiences and conditions of inequity faced by, but not limited to, women, Indigenous Peoples, members of visible minority/racialized groups, persons with disabilities, members of LGBTQ2SIA+ communities, as well as linguistic, ethnic, and religious minorities. The endorsement is also a commitment to enact concrete measures necessary to effect change by identifying and eliminating obstacles, barriers and biases that impede accessible, equitable, diverse, inclusive opportunity in our fields of work and in our artistic endeavours as well as in our organizations and offices where our work is located.
- We acknowledge that our artistic and business communities take place on diverse Indigenous territories.
- We affirm the importance of Indigenous languages, appreciate the growth in multilingualism, and recognize the importance of our diverse linguistic inheritance for culture and community.
- We recognize that equity, diversity, and inclusion are foundational to the realization of inclusive excellence in our artistic and business practices, and that the talents of all members of our communities are best achieved in an equitable, respectful, and inclusive learning, teaching, research, and working environment.
- We acknowledge that systemic inequities have impeded the access to and success of various members of our community including, but not limited to women, Indigenous peoples, members of visible/racialized minority groups, persons with disabilities, members of LGBTQ2SIA+ communities, and individuals with diverse gender expressions and gender identities.
- We commit to proactive measures to ensure fairness for members of all equity-denied groups including, but not limited to, gender equity, racial equity, disability equity, Indigenous equity, and equity for LGBTQ2SIA+.
- We recognize that a diversity of people from diverse backgrounds and experiences contributes to a diversity of thought and perspectives and, among other things, improves decision-making, creates better collaborative efforts, fuels creativity and innovation, and enhances the environments we inhabit.
- We acknowledge that accessibility, equity, diversity, and inclusion require concrete action and commitment to specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-oriented (SMART) goals and objectives to identify and transform the obstacles, barriers, and biases that impede access to and success within our fields of endeavour.
- We commit to removing barriers and obstacles that impede the equitable representation of women, Indigenous peoples, visible/racialized minorities, persons with disabilities, LGBTQ2SIA+, and individuals of diverse gender expressions and gender identities, and sharing our work with our stakeholders in our artistic and business practices.
- We commit to including feedback from those within marginalized populations in our evolving work, and to compensate those individuals for their contributions.
- We recognize that an equitable and inclusive workplace is fundamental to human flourishing, and commit to eliminating chilly climates and hostile environments and to creating a healthy culture free from discrimination, harassment, and bullying.
- We recognize that inclusive leadership, governance structures, policies and processes and the active engagement of business and organizational leaders are necessary for the commitment and enactment of systemic change in our society.
- We commit to a spirit of continuous learning, reflection, and improvement.
- Ensure web sites are accessible and acknowledge principles of EDI.
- Review governance of organizational structure and assess and modify, as necessary, in order to reflect our commitment to EDI practices.
- Embed EDI principles and anti-racism statements in strategic plans, and ensure mechanisms for benchmarking progress.
- Review EDI goals regularly and benchmark progress, while keeping accurate, intersectional data up to date.
- Embed unconscious bias training in organizational practices.
- Ensure diversity of panels (no manels), shows, workshops, decision making bodies, committees, etc. without tokenism.
- When hosting a conference, meeting, event, or workshop, acknowledge the treaty and Indigenous peoples territory of the host site accurately and appropriately.
- Opening sessions should be a welcome to the territory and an account of its Indigenous history — a sharing of Indigenous knowledges.
- Work to increase participation by Indigenous peoples in the events organized.
- Facilitate spaces at the event meant to specifically engage with Indigenous peoples.
- Adhere to best practices for accessible spaces, websites, and communications.
Business and Arts has formed an internal Equity, Diversity and Inclusion committee who are responsible for developing and maintaining our EDI Action Plan. The EDI Committee has also designed a Working Policy to ensure that our values are reflected in our choices as we design programs going forward.