Latest News | April 2022

A Conversation About An Anti-Racist Approach To Volunteering

Published: Apr 27, 2022 @ 4:03 PM

people holding hands on a hill with the sun behind themYep, there was an important report released in January. Yesterday, with CCVO, we jointly hosted a conversation about the report with panelists invited to share their perspectives. I heard a lot, a lot, of challenge to progress the conversation to action. Intentionally the January report does not include “solutions” as without listening that would be an attempt to recolonize the practices of volunteer engagement vs decolonize those same practices. We know from all our work in anti-racism and here on the VolunteerConnector, everything has to center on volunteers and their voice, not ours.

As a reminder, what we are talking about is belonging in a community of like-minded individuals, belonging in a city, belonging in a province, and belonging in Canada. Typically, volunteering statistics recognize formal volunteering in organizations. This is huge but only represents the actions of just over half the volunteering that individuals do each year. Belonging requires us to recognize the actions of grassroots and neighbourly support for one another . . . we heard from the panel that this can be where the most meaningful societal change can take place. We also heard there is still a lot of exclusionary practices alive and strong.

I heard so many things, but when it occurred to me to write down a few things to contemplate later this is what I captured:

  • White supremacy in our society still needs to be named
  • Trauma, for racialized people, is always present
  • Volunteerism is too often white saviours asking people to reinforce white supremacy
  • Power is still performative
  • Volunteering is the hope of inclusivity, yet is still so extractive
  • One person always needs to call out white supremacy in organizations
  • Volunteering is/can be a radical act of love
  • Belonging is being part of a beloved community

And in case you missed a very basic human insight:

  • Yelling at people is not helping people belong, just stop!

The overwhelming sense I had as I listened to the panelists was – there is zero conversation about anti-racism in volunteering as a system without looking at the intersections of all the systems volunteering seeks to hold up . . . systems of white supremacy that still need to be named.

It’s a tough conversation. But if we truly care for one another, if we truly want belonging for all, then we will need to abolish harmful systems and provide hospice care as we do it.

Thank you to all the speakers who joined us. Thank you for your vulnerability and risking sharing the hard words we all still need to hear. Thank you to:

Our role is to continue to listen to volunteers, continue to remove barriers in volunteering for everyone using the tools we have - VolunteerConnector - and invite more partners to join the movement to decolonize.


Free On Tuesday?

Published: Apr 19, 2022 @ 3:53 PM

We, and our friends at CCVO, cordially invite you to join us in conversation with an exceptional group of humans about anti-racism in volunteering.

Panelists will be Dr. Sonia Aujla-Bhullar, Jeff D'Silva, Taylor McNallie and Dr. Moyo Mutamba. It is bound to a vibrant conversation for wherever you are at in your learning or unlearning journey. We are excited to celebrate National Volunteer Week with this symposium. Perk of Zoom means you can join us from around the country, see you there! 


Sign up here



Countdown Is On!

Published: Apr 12, 2022 @ 9:55 AM

We are officially two weeks out from Canadian National Volunteer Week, how exciting! If you are in full swing of planning, hooray - no doubt your thank you soiree will be epic no matter what form it is taking!

If you read 'two weeks' and panicked do not worry at all, Volunteer Canada has an awesome collection of resources (Volunteer Week Resources) to get you started. Additionally, the research says it over and over again - volunteers just want to be thanked with acknowledgment of the impact of their work - handwritten card, email, text, WhatsApp message...maybe include a fun gif to kick it up a notch! 

An important note that we all sometimes forget, boards are made up of volunteers ... so if you spend some of your time in those spaces make sure you figure out a way to acknowledge each other and work you all do. Order pizza for your next meeting, get matching sweatshirts or take a moment at the start of your next meeting to say what you appreciate about the perspective the person next to you brings. 



Volunteering With Minor Sports

Published: Apr 6, 2022 @ 12:23 PM

If you are involved in minor sports this one is for you ... if not keep scrolling! 

The signs are going up in neighbourhoods across the country promoting enrolment in soccer or baseball or another outdoor ball/field combination. There are tons of perks to children engaging in sports, so definitely think about it if you have not before.

However, we would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the thousands of volunteers that make these sports possible. First off thank you - you are doing wonderful work! Coaches, equipment managers, team managers, change room attendants, team coordinators, orange slice providers ... so many more, HOORAY for all of you!

If you are involved in these spaces as a board member or staff here are some quick morsels of support as you think about recruiting support for the teams:

  1. Include a couple sentences describing the role, even two. We have all been out of routine and capacity has shifted significantly in the past 2 years. We might have just forgotten what is actually meant by "co-coach" or maybe we are new to the whole experience. 
  2. Include a time commitment in hours (even just a best guess). Sometimes that shared google calendar has lots of room and sometimes it's on overload. A human needs to know what they can expect and that includes the surprise mandatory training in 2 weeks on a Saturday morning. 
  3. Add what the volunteer will gain from the experience, will you keep them caffeinated? Is the coach training transferable? Do they get an opinion on uniforms? A discount on next year's registration fees? Lots of things motivate lots of people so give it a go!