Black lives matter. This needs to be asserted strongly and defended unequivocally. To be silent on the injustices faced by Black people in Canada, the United States, and around the world, is to be complicit in their oppression. It is to lose a part of our humanity. It is to dishonour the memory of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and countless others who have needlessly lost their lives to police brutality. We will not remain silent and we commit to action.
We acknowledge that while racism and oppression have come to the fore again recently in the United States, Canada has its own historic and present day systemic racism toward Black and Indigenous peoples specifically, and towards people of colour broadly.
White European colonizers built the foundation of Canada using Black slave labour on stolen Indigenous lands. Reparations have not been made to these oppressed groups and this history permeates our society to this day. Black people continue to be subjected to racial profiling and disproportional carding by police. Black and Indigenous Canadians are much more likely to be killed in interactions with police. Indigenous Canadians are incarcerated at disproportionately high rates. Progress on investigating cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women is far too slow.
In addressing this history and the current circumstances, it is not enough to not be racist. We must be actively anti-racist in sustained, meaningful ways.
We also acknowledge that white people predominantly hold positions of power in the sustainability, climate change, and urban planning fields in which our organizations work—as well as the co-operative sector of which we are a part, making the work and workplaces in these fields subject to white biases. Solutions to environmental problems must be created and implemented in ways that do not replicate this systemic racism and inequity.
Sustainability Solutions Group (SSG) and whatIf? Technologies express our strong support for the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and protests. Our workers are attending protests in their communities and are donating to BLM support funds. SSG and whatIf? support our workers in these acts. Our organizations are donating $3,000 to BLM community bail funds and $1500 to the Black Health Alliance as part of our ongoing commitment to anti-racist action.
We commit to reviewing and revising internal policies and practices—including hiring processes, organizational structure, professional development and education, and project delivery processes—to combat racism in our organizations. We commit to sharing our stance on issues of racism and oppression to our clients and colleagues. We commit to continuing to join and support anti-racism and social justice protests and movements.
These recognitions and commitments are a step in the right direction, but only a step. We call on our colleagues and peers in the sustainability, climate change, and co-operative sectors to take these steps with us—to authentically know and feel deep in our hearts that racism is in us and embedded in our systems—and then to work to dismantle harmful attitudes, damaging beliefs, and oppressive systems.
Join us in this critical work that we ourselves must do.
SSG is a Canadian worker co-operative founded 20 years ago by activists in social, environmental, and climate change movements. whatIf? Technologies is a worker-owned company founded 30 years ago. In our work together, we strive to build decarbonized, healthy, equitable communities for everyone.