Anti-Oppression

Anti-Oppression

Introduction

COCo adopted anti-oppression as a core value of our own organization in 2010. At the time, we wrote that we understand anti-oppression as being “unfair power and privilege imbalances that have formed historically, have been entrenched institutionally and continue to be perpetuated over time.” COCo is committed to an anti-oppressive practice and workspace that:

    • Combats systemic and structural discrimination on the individual, interpersonal, organizational and institutional levels;
    • Questions and challenges systems of power and privilege 
    • Understands and redresses historical and present inequalities; and
    • Acknowledges and appreciates the people and the work that have come before us 

To us, anti-oppression is a continually-evolving practice- both for ourselves and for the organizations we work with. We explore these ideas through projects like Just Practice and Portes Ouvertes. It has since become a part of our Theory of Change, adopted in 2017, which can be found here

Over the last several years, the central lens we have been exploring and deepening is anti-racism. You can find more of our work on anti racism here and here.

Our Approach for Nonprofits

  • First and foremost, our approach to anti-oppression work starts with ourselves. As an organization, we have made many mistakes and are sure to make more- and holding our selves accountable to this principle, and being transparent about our failings, is our starting point.
  • We understand the ability of an organization to live up to values of anti-oppression and equity as tied to its overall organization health. If there is significant conflict, moving forward on these issues will be difficult. If everyone’s jobs are precarious or wildly overburdened, it will be as well. We look at anti-oppression as part of the global well-being of a group, and this informs the accompaniment we will propose to you.
  • Not all organizations are ready to do anti-oppression work. We have found that when there is a certain kind of “readiness” in an organization to self reflect, have hard conversations, and be open to change and turbulence- we can have a significant impact. Other times, trying to work on anti-oppression actually makes the situation worse. We try to be careful about starting anti-oppression work with an organization at the right time and in the right circumstances.
  • “I was able to deepen my comprehension of empathy. I learned about the necessity of trust in breaking down barriers and oppression” —participant on the Table de Quartier Peter-McGill