December 2018 / Toronto - As we wind down the year, it is time to take a step back and reflect on what has been accomplished, what positive change or impact we have had, and how we will appreciate our accomplishments through self-care and organizational care. We do not do enough of this as advocates and practitioners in the public benefit sector. This is as good a time as any to start.
I have been especially proud of the work of my colleagues at OCASI as we paid homage to forty years of activism and resilience. The many trainings and publications and ideas and visions you’ve created and put out for the sector. The changes that have come about because of your advocacy and research and policy and membership support. The wealth of information you’ve found and written and shared online with countless immigrants and refugees and those needing settlement and integration support. I am proud of all of it and all of you.
I am still touched by the response of those we recognized this year. Those who have fought in the metaphorical trenches and in the boardrooms; in the backrooms of government offices and in the streets with placards, spitting out rage and beauty - selling their vision of an inclusive future.
I want to acknowledge the brilliance of the women and men (Trans and Cis) and the non-binary people with whom I work. Who show up every day, making a difference in the lives of all who cross their paths. The practitioners who sit with mothers as they manoeuver through our court or child welfare systems; those who translate stories of joy and pain and longing; those who counsel about life and cultural adaptation; about education and employment; about language and place and housing.
The volunteers – our Boards who give selflessly, keeping their counsel and silently cheering on the work of the operation leads and staff on the ground. To the OCASI Board. To the Boards of OCASI member agencies, we salute you. We thank you.
And the policy-makers and funders, those who we engage and who engage us, wanting to know the pain that we witness, the joy of the first job in Canada that is commensurate with skills and education, the dance of the refugee children on seeing their first snow fall, the sweet sound of a children’s choir singing through their healing from trauma and war. We thank you for taking this journey with us in partnership.
As we wind down this calendar year in this month of celebration of the possibilities of life I wish you all a Happy Hanukkah, Happy Diwali, Merry Christmas and a Happy Kwanzaa.
Some poetry to end this last blog of 2018:
From Elizabeth Alexander:
I know there’s something better down the road.
We need to find a place where we are safe.
We walk into that which we cannot yet see.
From Maya Angelou
But today, the Rock cries out to us, clearly, forcefully,
Come, you may stand upon my
Back and face your distant destiny.