Much has happened in the past few weeks, and we are committed to taking steps leading to equity and increased diversity and inclusion at the Chemainus Theatre Festival. We gratefully acknowledge we create theatre on the traditional territory of the Central Coast Salish peoples, particularly the Penelakut Tribe (https://penelakut.ca/). CTF also recognizes a need to better understand and take appropriate action to form stronger anti-oppressive and barrier-free policies, practices, and theatre. We look forward to building relationships and bridges as we anticipate returning from closure. As promised last month, here is a summary of actions taken to date:
- We have convened a Special Committee of the Board with several goals.
- Create an Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) statement and goals.
- Contract an EDI Advisor and/or create an Advisory Committee of community members, sponsors, donors and artists to recommend and review developing EDI Statements and planning.
- Relationship-building with Indigenous First Nations living in the region and confirm and detail the Land Acknowledgment incorporated in 2020.
- CTF has identified anti-oppression and EDI policies as safety issues. The Health and Safety Committee is reviewing Health, Safety, and Wellness policies to incorporate updated knowledge and practices.
- Staff who remain at CTF during this period of reduced activity have taken Indigenous Cultural Safety Training with Lucy Thomas of Hiiye’yu Lelum (House of Friendship) Society. We are evaluating how to incorporate similar or additional training for more staff when full operations resume. Artistic Director Mark DuMez attended Staying Warm: A Guide to Allyship in Action presented by Jacquelyn Cardinal and Equity member Hunter Cardinal from Naheyawin (https://www.naheyawin.ca/). What we are taking away from this learning is to approach Indigenous allyship through action, courage, and humility, and to deliver meaningful change.
- Additional continued learning through webinars and reading among individual members of the Special Committee and Staff.
- We acknowledge that the above actions, goals, and next steps are moving forward while CTF is at minimal staff levels during closure and amidst financial crisis. We also recognize that to proceed respectfully and thoughtfully, some of the above steps (and ensuing actions from these steps) may require additional time. During July and August we will be taking time to recharge, scheduling staff and Board meetings to discuss EDI work, post-COVID safety and reopening plans for 2021. Our next formal update will be issued by September 15, 2020.