Impact for Health’s Intention Statement
In Canada, September 30 is a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, in which we honour the lost children and survivors of the residential school system. It is a day committed to acknowledging one’s history, learning from that history, and working hard not to repeat the same mistakes. This collective reflection on history and listening resonates greatly in the world of global public health where there is a need to decolonize aid and development. As such, we wanted to take the time to develop an intention statement that defines what we are doing to support the decolonization agenda and holds us accountable to our commitment.
In May of this year, our Impact for Health team focused our regular learning series meetings to explore the topic of decolonizing aid to learn how we might evolve our consulting practice to ensure that we are part of the solution, not part of the problem. We did a deep dive into Peace Direct’s report, “Time to Decolonise Aid.” We took time for self-reflection on what we could do, both as individuals and as a team.
We identified 5 concrete steps that we could take as we kick off projects, as we course correct during projects, and that we could evaluate ourselves against as we wrap up a project. Stated in the form of questions for ourselves, they are:
How might we bring voices to the table who haven’t been heard before?
How might we act as bridges, not experts for the national and sub-national users, patients, providers, policy makers, stakeholders for whom we work?
How might we build partnerships that last after our project ends?
How might we find ways to circle back and give back to the partners with whom we work?
How might we be more intentional about our language and visual design to ensure diversity, equity and inclusion?
The pressures of time and limited resources make it difficult to try anything new or different, and yet these deceptively simple questions have powerfully shaped our approach since May. We have had to push back and adjust processes so that we listen first and then move to action based on the voices of the actual need and demand. We now design our facilitated sessions so that every participant has an equal chance for their voice to be heard. We have had to collaborate more purposefully with clients to ensure that final products and documents circle back to the participants that were involved in the process.
Going forward, we acknowledge that there is always more work to be done, but we feel that these questions are a step in the right direction for us. We look forward to keeping ourselves accountable to this intention statement and for contributing to the decolonizing aid agenda in honour of Truth and Reconciliation Day.
We acknowledge the land we are meeting on is the traditional territory of many nations including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples and is now home to many diverse First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. We also acknowledge that Toronto is covered by Treaty 13 with the Mississaugas of the Credit.