As a community services agency Breakaway has a responsibility to be an active ally and to make the changes desperately needed to create a just and equitable society. We stand firmly with the Black community and our colleagues to condemn all forms of racism. When we commit to pushing back against anti-black racism, we are also condemning all forms of racism towards all members of the BIPOC community. As a predominantly white organization, Breakaway recognizes its privilege.
We recognize racism as a public health crisis that reveals itself in many ways: from micro-aggressions to physical violence to systemic perpetuation of power and privilege. These societal, structural and individual aggressions have had a significant impact on the mental health and life outcomes of Black community members.
We acknowledge the tragic and substantial losses that people have faced due to the ongoing drug poisoning and overdose crisis. These losses and the grief experienced are immeasurable. We acknowledge that this crisis is rooted in systemic discrimination, and that people who use drugs often experience multiple, intersecting forms of discrimination, including colonialism and racism.
We recognize that the manifestations of systemic anti-Black racism we have seen spotlighted this year have existed for generations, having devasting impacts and lending themselves to the inequitable silencing of black communities. As leaders, a community service, a community, and as a society, we cannot act as if these inequalities do not come to inform the lived realities of the Black community. We have the responsibility to commit ourselves to being change makers in the fight for equality.
Recognition is only the first part of the change. Our actions to date:
• We have struck an Anti-Racism/Anti-Oppression Working Group.
• We have changed some of our oppressive HR practices and recruitment strategies in order to be more inclusive and diverse.
• Requiring white staff and board to engage in ongoing learning and uncomfortable and challenging conversations.
We are committed to:
• Aligning our programs, policies and practices with best practices in anti-racism and anti-oppression.
• Assessing and improving our service delivery for racialized clients.
• Increasing our efforts to recruit skilled BIPOC and people with lived experience.
• Challenging colonial and oppressive employment “requirements” that impede BIPOC and individuals with lived experience from promotions to higher paying, permanent and management positions.
The language and content of this statement are a combination of our own and other community agencies that align with the ethos of Breakaway.