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.
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
Our services in anti-oppression are varied and depend on the specific context of your organization.
Many groups ask for a basic anti-oppression training as a start to their group conversations around this question. At COCo, all of our anti-oppression trainings, including the more basic ones, are tailored to the context of your group and the particular anti-oppressive issues you are facing.
At COCo, we see anti-oppression as an issue that should be a part of the ongoing reflection of an organization, and not a one time thing. We can work with your organization to develop longer term accompaniment to answer questions like:
- How do we make our workspace welcoming to employees of colour?
- What do we understand about the experience our service users have of our organization?
- What are the cultural assumptions in our organization that create a sense of alienation or exclusion for parts of our team?
- We have been talking about the same issue for years, but nothing changes. Why is that?
Anti-Oppression Resources from COCo
Over the years, COCo has produced a lot of online resources related to anti-oppression! You can find the whole collection here, and here are a few of our favourites:
- The Woman of Colour in Nonprofit Organizations
- The Oppression Tree Facilitation Tool
- Accessibility Guidelines for Events
- Inclusive Meetings Nuts and Bolts
Other Great Resources
There are lots of amazing organizations doing work on anti-oppression! Here are a few we rely on:
By Phone: (514) 849-5599 | toll free: 1 (866) 552-2626
By Fax: (514) 849-5553 | toll free: 1 (866) 560-2626
3680 Jeanne-Mance, #470 Montreal (QC) H2X 2K5
Monday – Thursday 10am – 4:00pm
Please make an appointment with us by phone or email, as we are not able to receive drop-ins.