The latest message from Owen Charters, President & CEO, Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada (June 5). Full transcript below.
Today is Unplug to Connect, a day where we celebrate the work we do in Clubs face to face.
Unplug to Connect emphasizes how important it is to get disconnected from our devices and meet in person. Ironically, the only way for me to connect today is virtually, through this video, for instance.
And I am going to tell you that I am tired. Really tired.
Tired of connecting virtually and not in person. And really tired of the same problems that don’t get fixed.
This was a week of unrest and upheaval—protests against anti-Black racism in the US and around the world.
These protests are against a system that has serious flaws, serious problems that are not getting fixed.
My family knows racism. When my Japanese grandparents arrived on the shores of Canada, it wasn’t long before institutionalized racism meant they were stripped of all their belongings—their homes, their business—and incarcerated in internment camps in the interior of British Columbia as enemy aliens. It’s only one incident in a legacy of racism that continues today in this country.
Racism against Blacks, Indigenous, and People of Colour is insidious. It is what our Clubs contend with each and every day—the effects of pervasive racism.
I’m not alone in being tired of this fight—our National Youth Council have stated that “we are frustrated, angry, and emotionally exhausted.” Read their full statement here, and read Boys & Girls Clubs of Canada’s statement here.
Clubs are part of the solution, and they continue to work hard to confront and eradicate the effects of racism. They teach core values like Belonging, Respect, Speaking Out, which are central to creating inclusion.
It is also the start of Pride Month. Our work to create a society that is just, equitable, and safe for all is paramount. Our goal is to ensure youth can see and access all the opportunities that should be open to them.
I know that despite my heritage I now stand here as a person with privilege, and as an ally. I must take action. You must take action.
We must have the difficult conversations and open dialogue that are necessary to move forward and ensure Black, Indigenous, and all youth of colour have the right to be full participants in society and to walk without fear. Be an active part of the solution. Do as our national youth council asks: Sign petitions. Call, text, and email. Write letters. Walk, demonstrate, donate. Educate yourself and your family. Check on your affected friends.
And take care of yourself.