23rd Canadian Race Relations Foundation Annual Public Meeting
Tuesday December 8, 2020– 4:00 PM Toronto Time
Virtual Meeting, via Webex
Vice-Chairperson: Gina Valle
Executive Director: Mohammed Hashim
Chair of the Finance and Audit Committee: Moses Gashirabake
Director, Finance and Administration: Arsalan Tavassoli
- Welcome & opening remarks by Chairperson
The meeting began promptly at 4:02 PM EST
Gina Valle, the Vice-Chairperson, was requested by Chairperson Teresa Woo-Paw to share today’s sentiments. Ms. Valle welcomed and thanked all participants for attending the meeting before stating the land acknowledgement. She began by citing the challenging time for race relations in Canada and the many demographics that have been impacted. Specifically, she stated:
- The tragic death of George Floyd sparked a long needed, revitalization of commitments towards tackling racism. This renewed commitment from governments, corporations, non-profits, labour and community members is deeply welcomed, and long overdue. The pain of anti-black racism isn’t new, in fact it has long been ignored, and though we mourn the loss of so many innocent lives, we must also recognize this moment as one to deepen our resolve and move forward with intentionality.
- In this unprecedented time, we must also acknowledge the rise of Anti-Asian racism, particularly as communities are being scapegoated for causing the pandemic. Hate crimes in BC has tripled over the last year, and we see a continuous stream of incidents through media reports.
- In Quebec, we witnessed an indigenous woman screaming for help in a hospital, while health care officials mocked her. This was a painful moment, not only because it shows so clearly the racist attitudes that exist today, but particularly more so because it came from those who are trusted with our care. To many the screams brought back the nightmares of residential schools, where those were entrusted to take care of children, were the very same who perpetuated the violence.
- Canada has recognized this moment. Canadians are asking for governments, institutions, corporate and labour leaders to step and make good on a promise of equality, respect and human rights for all.
Ms. Valle concluded by thanking the previous Executive Director Lillian Ma for her leadership and commitment in fostering positive race relations towards the organization and Canada as a whole. She also thanked Alicia Damley as the Interim Executive Director for bringing new life and energy to the organization, despite the short period. Finally, she thanked all staff and board members before welcoming CRRF’s new Executive Director, Mohammed Hashim.
- Highlights of CRRF’s activities by Executive Director
Mohammed Hashim, CRRF’s new Executive Director, thanked Gina, all staff and board members for joining today’s APM. He described continuous partnerships that will take place during this new transition. He continued to describe his new role and the massive journey ahead, the deep history of the organization and the numerous pillars that are essential to the work conducted by CRRF. He summarized the following achievements of the 2019-2020 year:
- Two successful roundtables in Toronto and Vancouver, partnering and leading initiatives with many like-minded agencies such as the Mosaic Institute, the Centre for Civic Religious Literacy, the Environics Institute for Survey Research, The National Association of Japanese Canadians and others. These events, workshops and panel discussions spread from Toronto, to Winnipeg, to Calgary, Halifax and more.
- We also greatly expanded our online presence to facilitate reaching more Canadians. We revamped our website, ran successful webinars and are growing our social media presence daily.
- We have also successfully secured funding for several promising projects that we will deploy within the months and years. As we forge on with this essential work, we would like to thank you for your continued support, engagement and interest in our activities.
Mr. Hashim concluded that the progress towards the Japanese Redress is still ongoing before turning it over to Moses to summarize the financial aspects.
- Financial presentation by the Chair of the Finance & Audit Committee and CRRF Director, Finance and Administration
Moses Gashirabake, Chair of our Finance & Audit Committee spoke on some highlights of the CRRF current financial status and standing.
- The impacts of the pandemic onto the foundation in terms of staff in adapting to new reality
- Revenue stream relies on investment income of endowments – $12 million from the Government of Canada and $12 million from the Japanese community
- Total assets valued at $30 million, with the year 2020 closing at $24 million
- CRRF will continue ahead strongly
- Audit aspect – report that we have positive comments; foundation is able to be in a good position
Arsalan Tavassoli, Director of Finance and Administration reviewed the CRRF 2019/20 fiscal year financial state-of-affairs and informed the participants that he could answer to any questions they might have regarding the Foundation’s financial statements and resources.
- States the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic
- Revenue and financial statement - $218,000 in revenue from different sources; investment income is mostly from interest and dividend of $4 million, with additional $5 million
- Expenses – $1 million and 44 thousand in expenses: 200k related to project from the Department of Heritage and implementation of “Behind Racism”, 844k for admin costs, 100k in public fees
- Overall assets - we lost $5 million but overall the total has been $260 million compared to previous year
- Closing remarks by Chairperson
Gina concluded with:
- Current events here and abroad have certainly had an impact on our Canadian society that will reverberate for some time. Racism, hate speech, discrimination & extremism – all are now commonplace, every day topics that, just a decade or so ago – used to be just occasional news blurbs. These challenges to healthy and productive race relations, some would argue, threaten the very fabric of Canadian society as we know it.
- I see opportunity. For growth. For dialogue. For expansion and leadership. And this is where I see the role of CRRF. The work of this Foundation has never been more important, and indeed I and my fellow board members intend to steward the CRRF over the next year to help the country heal, learn and move forward. We cannot do this alone, of course, and so will look to take a broader role and expand our partnerships. This year, the CRRF has embarked on a thorough strategic planning initiative to re-align the Foundation’s priorities for the years ahead. We plan to establish the CRRF as a thought-leader in the anti-racism space and as a positive convener for race relations in Canada.
- We will travel to more provinces and territories and we will expand our online role. I have high hopes and higher expectations of the Foundation for 2020 and onwards. We will defend our vision of an inclusive Canada that can be free from racism and discrimination and ensure a meaningful progress towards achieving our mission. We will coordinate and cooperate with all sectors of society, and develop partnerships with relevant agencies and organizations at the local, provincial and national levels
She wished everyone to be well and to carry strength with family for the next little while.
The meeting was adjourned at 5:15 PM EST.