Statement on Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

Statement on Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

Outward Bound Canada’s vision is for a healthy, resilient society formed through lasting connections to self, others and the natural world. Our purpose is to cultivate resilience, leadership, connections and compassion through inspiring and challenging journeys of discovery in the natural world. As a charity, we strive to increase access to empowering educational adventures in nature for people from all backgrounds. However, we recognize we cannot achieve this without addressing systemic oppression.

We acknowledge that access to nature, including wilderness expeditionary programs, excludes those without privilege. Those who are: Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC), are Two-Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual (2SLGBTQIA+), non-binary, female-identifying, newcomer, refugee, low-income, have certain religious affiliations, spiritual practices, and people with disabilities continue to face economic, accessibility and social barriers that prevent them from accessing the natural world, including to pursue recreational activities and education, as well as careers in the outdoor industry. The outdoor industry is not a welcoming and safe space for many people due to the widespread and ongoing systematic racism and discrimination of communities that are marginalized.

Over our 50-year history, we have had many successes working with various communities through our programs. However, we recognize that we are a part of the ongoing impacts of bias, racism, discrimination and systems of oppression that perpetuate inequities if we are not actively working to correct them. As a predominantly white-led nonprofit organization, we have participated in and perpetuated these systems, perhaps unknowingly and implicitly in our ignorance, but still with significance. We have much work to do to understand better, identify, address and hold ourselves accountable for the issues that impede the inclusion and representation of communities that are marginalized.

In addition, the land that our programs take place upon, Turtle Island and beyond, continues to be stewarded by Indigenous people and has been since time immemorial. Through the delivery of our programs, we benefit from our interactions with stolen land. For those of us who are settlers, we recognize that we were, and continue to be, actively involved in this process that results in stolen lands and the continued marginalization of Indigenous People. We recognize that to remain silent and uneducated on social movements is to be complicit. We must actively extend beyond our current way of being to correct historical and ongoing abuse for reconciliation.

To do this work, we must live up to our values of compassion, trust and adventure. We need to embrace vulnerability and positive risk-taking, and embark on purposeful journeys that redefine our perceptions of what is possible. We must commit to advancing justice, equity, diversity and inclusion in our organization, through our programs and in the outdoor community and society at large. We must make space for, listen to and amplify the voices of Black, Indigenous and People of Colour, and other equity-deserving communities. Through embracing a diversity of thinking, lived experiences, and voices, we can create a sense of belonging for everyone.

This journey will not have a final destination; our learning and growth will come through challenges, opportunities, mistakes, failures and successes along the way. We are committed to openness and transparency as we continue doing this work:

Progress we’ve made:

• In March 2020, we established a Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee. We recognize that this committee does not replace the expertise of internal and external professional experience. Outward Bound Canada is committed to supporting the committee’s work by engaging professional consultants when needed.

• In the summer of 2020, we internally delivered a series of 4 mandatory 1.5 hr workshops to develop a base set of knowledge and common language about justice, diversity, equity and inclusion amongst the 29 person full-time staff team. Topics of these workshops included Definitions, Diversity Wheel, Intersectionality, and Decolonization.

• Increasing diverse representation on our governance board was a priority during our most recent board nomination process in June 2020. To continue this work of making our governance board more inclusive and reflective of the community, we will develop and execute a board diversity plan, including reviewing our policies and distributing a demographics survey to better identify gaps and inform next steps.

• Since 2017, we have been striving to increase the representation and diversity of outdoor educators through our Indigenous Instructor Development Program at no cost to participants. We recognize that our efforts only play a small part in addressing the multitude of barriers that exist within the industry that impede the participation and advancement of people who are Indigenous, not yet reaching those that are Black, People of Colour and other equity-deserving groups. We have more work to do, alongside other partners in the industry to remove barriers to participation and development for those who wish to pursue a career in the outdoor industry.

• As of 2021, we are including performance goals and measurements related to the advancement of justice, equity, diversity and inclusion in staff performance plans and evaluations.