As was promissed, below you can find a sample letter to the Chair and President of the YMCA of Greater Toronto. Please take few minutes to send this message and distribute widely. The letter can be cc’d to the CEO of United Way of York Region to inform them of the situation as a funder. Here is contact for the CEO of United Way:
Chief Executive Officer
please also cc it to any media contact you may have.
Scott Haldane, President YMCA of Greater Toronto: email@example.com
Bahadur Madhani, Chair of the Board, YMCA of Greater Toronto: firstname.lastname@example.org
I am writing in regards to Human rights at the YMCA of Greater Toronto.
YMCA of Greater Toronto is an organization which receives funding to provide services to diverse communities. In order to serve a diverse community an organization needs to develop policies and structure to effectively meet the needs of its diverse service users, staff, volunteers and other stakeholders. This system has to have accountability built into it to ensure that the culture and practices of the organization support an anti-racist structure.
Anti-racism emphasizes a holistic approach to the development of anti-racist ideologies, goals, policies, and practices. As an organizational response it requires the formation of new organizational structures; the introduction of new cultural norms and value systems; changes in power dynamics; the implementation of new employment systems; substantive changes in services delivered; support for new roles and relationships at all levels of the organization; new patterns and more inclusive styles of leadership and decision-making; and the reallocation of resources. Strategic planning, organizational audits and reviews, monitoring and accountability systems and training are all considered an integral part of the management of anti-racist change (Carol Tater, Dec 2004).
YMCA’s practices and lack of accountability about racism impacts our youth tremendously. Practices of the YMCA of Greater Toronto bottom streams people of colour and Aboriginal peoples, especially youth. Ongoing devaluation of youth result in low self-esteem and ultimately in behaviours such as direct acts of violence. Youth of colour are killing each other in the streets of Toronto; Aboriginal families are enduring high rate of suicide among Aboriginal youth while organizations such as YMCA, which are receiving funding to provide services to youth, are refusing to deal with existing racism within their organizations.
Current structure of the YMCA of Greater Toronto pays lip service to “diversity” and “anti-racist” issues while the structure and practices clearly upholds and maintains a power relation that supports white supremacy. Practices of YMCA of Greater Toronto shows that differential access are built into the every day norms, policies and practices of this organization, as well as the behaviours and assumptions of individuals within this organization. Its diversity “policy” is a statement of high-sounding principles and empty promises with no implementation plan.
I am writing to inform you that I am not willing to offer any donation to the YMCA of Greater Toronto until such a time that this organization develops a comprehensive anti-racist policy with clear implementation and accountability process. A policy that mandates an appropriate complaint investigation process which includes clear and detailed written notes of all complaints and witness statements. A process that requires investigation by a trained and independent person with in-depth knowledge and understanding of racism. A policy which includes built in accountability such as proper report to the complainer about the finding of the investigation and the process which was used to arrive at that conclusion. The process should include measures to give the individuals involved an opportunity to examine the investigation process and raise policy related issues.
An organization should make its policies and procedure available to its stakeholders, specially those who are involved in the complaint, in order for them to be aware of their rights and responsibilities and assess the process used against the policy.
Furthermore we ask for proper investigation of existing complaints of racism with proper reporting mechanism to the complainer.
Ontario Human Rights Commission’s document states:
“Anti-racism implies a goal of producing an understanding of what racism is and how it can be challenged.”
“No institution can address the issue of systemic racism without a system of both individual and organizational accountability. A powerful example of the impact of a lack of accountability is identified by Verma and Wente (no date) in the case of McKinnon v.Ontario (Ontario Ministry of Correctional Service). The lack of accountability is reflected in the total absence of management action against the racial discrimination experienced by a correctional officer of Aboriginal descent employed at the Metro Toronto East Detention Centre. In the initial decision in 1998, the Board found that there were several factors contributing to a poisoned work environment and that management at every level failed to seriously investigate allegations of racial discrimination or to take measures to avoid their repetition. Mr. McKinnon was "bullied" by management when he raised the complaints. The complainants were subject to reprisals from other employees with no response from management. Despite the order of the Board to implement action toward systemic change in the Ministry of Corrections, by 2002 it was clear that the Ministry had failed to comply fully with the orders; and the environment of the workplace and organizational continued to remain poisoned. The new orders were based on an acknowledgement by the Board that the redress of institutional racism rests with every level of an institution.”
Above example clearly explains the situation at the YMCA of Greater Toronto and we ask for immediate action by the board of the directors and senior staff at the YMCA of Greater Toronto.
Furthermore we urge donors and funders to withdraw all funds and donations from YMCA of Greater Toronto until such a time that this organization develops a comprehensible policy and makes appropriate and necessary changes to its structure.