Following considerable deliberation among our staff, Board, and partners, COCo has decided to pull out of the governmental commission on systemic racism- or rather, as it is now called, the “Forum Validating Diversity and the Fight Against Discrimination.” That change is one of many that have been put in place in the past several weeks, including a change of Minister, moving the formerly independent commission from the purview of the Human Rights Commission into the direct control of the Ministry of Immigration, and significantly changing the structure and objectives of the project.
These changes have caused serious concern for us here at COCO. In short, the substantive changes to the project felt like it has moved from being an independent commission led by a reputable organization, with the goal of truly understanding the question of systemic racism, to a government-led project largely aimed at scoring points in the electoral arena. The shift from talking about racism to immigration is significant, and, to be pointed, not what we signed up for.
The other reasons for our decision is that over the last several weeks, we have found ourselves spending countless hours on the phone with the government, the human rights commission, our partner organizations, our members and journalists trying to figure out what was happening. The changes to the commission happened as we, and other groups, were already holding consultations, and were rarely communicated to us directly, with any clarity, or with any answers to the obvious questions that would ensue. In other words, we started to realize that we were putting way too much time into dealing with an administrative circus, and not doing the work that we are mandated to do– to serve community organizations, on the ground, in the fight for social justice. We’re excited to get back down to it.