Karim Mamdani

Ontario Shores

Karima Velji

Sanaz Riahi

We Must Act Now to Stop Hate

It’s the time of year at Ontario Shores when we look back in celebration of our achievements over the past fiscal year.

The 2020/2021 year was challenging and unique as we continued to deliver safe and quality mental health amid a global pandemic. Despite many obstacles, we continued our collective work and continued to position the organization to best meet the needs of our community and the people who need us most.

As we look back with pride, it’s also critically important that we look ahead and set course for a future that is representative of all of our interests, both professionally and personally.

The world is far from perfect, but in Canada we like to believe we have it right. As we scan the laundry list of global issues, many of us believe our Canadian values make it a safe and welcoming place for all.

The truth is, Canada has the potential to be great, but we still have considerable work to do in ensuring everyone is truly accepted for who they are.

A stark reminder of that came recently with the discovery of remains for 215 Indigenous children on the grounds of the Kamloops Residential School in British Columbia. It was a revelation that shocked some, but not others who were already fully present in the reality of this stain in Canadian history. While the country mourned, I could not imagine the pain being felt by our Indigenous communities. Their grief is great and transcends generations.

As we come to terms with this tragedy, we were presented with another example of the consequences of hate and intolerance when a family in London, Ontario, was targeted and killed last Sunday. Police have described the mass murder as motivated by racism and Islamophobia.

Of course, we also remember George Floyd and how his murder brought to light injustices facing black people across the world, including right here in Canada.

While these incidents are separate, they share an urgent need to create a society that acknowledges mistakes of the past while authentically being welcoming and accepting of everyone.

In the moments of darkness, in facing unspeakable events, the hands of friendship guide us back to light.

We can no longer keep saying sorry, society has to stand up for the values and ideals that this country is known for. We owe this to our children and our country. The ideals of pluralism, safety, equality are what should guide us. Together we will prevail.

The work does not begin and end with a national strategy. Organizations, including Ontario Shores, have a role to play in making certain Canada reaches its full potential. Serving as a road map on our journey is Ontario Shores’ Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Anti-Discrimination Plan, which is set to take shape this summer with surveys, focus groups and other engagement activities involving everyone at Ontario Shores.

I believe the time is now to get this work done. The world is telling us, loud and clear, that more can be done to ensure equity and acceptance for all.

Ontario Shores has a special place in my heart. It’s where I have spent half of my career and where I have experienced significant professional and personal growth. There is a family atmosphere within our organization that doesn’t exist everywhere and I cherish that. With that fondness, though, is an understanding that we can and need to be better for everyone. It’s vital that we position the organization in a manner in which it can foster and grow for future generations.  I hope you will join me on this journey and dedicate yourself to ensuring Ontario Shores is an accepting and understanding place for everyone.