CONNECT’s mission is to Make Lives Better, which is why we are listening to the current protests for change in the US, Canada and around the world and want to show our support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
We reached out to some of our Black colleagues and the Black people we support at CONNECT to ask them how we can respond to this movement in a meaningful way. We will continue to reach out to the Black people in our CONNECT Communities to get their feedback and input. We want this to be an ongoing open dialogue.
So far, we are being asked to help open the dialogue, try to remove the fear around conversations, get people talking to each other and asking questions about Black Lives Matter. We encourage you to talk openly and respectfully with the people you work with and support. Don’t tip-toe around uncomfortable conversations. Let’s be open and ask curious questions. These conversations will be uncomfortable for some, as you may find yourself in a grey area asking questions and learning about your Black co-workers’ lived experiences.
So, what steps can we take to make these changes? For example, CONNECT Hamilton has repurposed its gratitude board as a Black Lives Matter Board, welcoming people to provide input about the Black Lives Matter movement and express what matters to them. For anyone uncomfortable writing something on the board, you can drop a comment in the Starting the Conversation box and we will post it for you.
We have also been asked to provide some education to our employees and the people we support about Black history. We can do that, either in conjunction with Black History Month, or as part of our online learning, or both. We will start to work on that project and let you know where we land.
Another idea is to include the people we support in painting rocks outside of CONNECT to say Black Lives Matter, decorating windows or putting up black balloons. We want to hear more ideas.
As an organization, CONNECT sees all individuals as resourceful, whole and wise. We pay attention to the marginalization that can take place within the populations we support, and we are listening to the marginalization described by the Black community. When we look back at our 27 years of experience and countless conversations with employees and the people we support, we are sad to say racism exists within our locations and there have been many hurtful interactions over the years. We want your help to make things better.
As we continue to have conversations and gather ideas, we will put some plans in place and keep you in the loop. If you want to share any ideas with us, based on this message, please do so. You can email questions, comments, personal stories and ideas to Lissa at firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow the link below to read a few thoughts recently shared by some of the Black people we support and our Black employees to get all of us thinking: