Cooperation Canada recognizes the importance of strategic collaboration in efforts to dismantle systemic racism in Canada and abroad. The organization is undergoing its own internal process of anti-racist institutional change and collaborating with the rest of the sector to ensure collective and inclusive approaches.
Systemic racism exists everywhere, including in the international cooperation sector, which aims to contribute to building a better and fairer world. To do that, our organizations must address the sector’s legacy of racial bias (particularly anti-Black and anti-Indigenous bias). We must also work to redress global interventions that have denied peoples and institutions from historically disadvantaged countries their agency and right to self-determination in the name of economic and social progress. As a signatory to human rights treaties (including those addressing reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and protecting all persons from bias based on race, ethnicity, or other identity factors), we are committed to upholding values of equality, dignity and inclusion and advocating for their application across all areas of Canada’s global engagement.
Cooperation Canada has convened an advisory group, which has articulated avenues of collective action towards a more anti-racist sector in the Anti-Racism Framework for Canada’s International Cooperation Sector. The Framework outlines key commitments ranging from efforts to shift institutional structures and processes, to addressing racial bias in the work of sector organizations, particularly relating to partnerships, program design and implementation, advocacy, storytelling, and communications more broadly.
In its first year, 71 sector organizations signed onto the Framework and provided institutional surveys to inform the sector’s first baseline report on anti-racism. A Task Force for Accountability formed by colleagues from signatory organizations developed the methodology and produced a forward-looking baseline report. The report was launched on 21 June 2021 during an event attended by 170 people and opened by the Honourable Karina Gould, Minister of International Development, who expressed appreciation for this sector initiative. The report lists seven overarching recommendations as organizations undertake a long-term process of anti-racist change.
Moving forward, organizations will be able to sign onto the Framework on an ongoing basis and become signatories on 21 March of each year, having submitted the annual survey that will inform annual progress reports. The Task Force for Accountability will be hosted by an Anti-Racism in Cooperation (ARC) Hub, the institutional and collective capacity of signatory organizations to make progress against the commitments outlined in the Framework.
This Framework is not perfect or final, nor is it our destination. This Framework, however, will provide a common ground, guiding instruments, and a momentum for a more anti-racist international cooperation sector. We invite you to sign on to the Framework (available below in English and French), reach out to others to do the same, and engage with us moving forward. This is just the beginning, and we can’t wait to begin this work with you.