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While July 1 is a time of celebration and rest for many, the YMCA-YWCA of Winnipeg, YMCA Canada and other Ys across the land now called Canada would also like to recognize how challenging a year it has been. There has been a lot to be thankful for, but this is also a time to pause and reflect on where we have been, and where we want to be as a country.

In recent months, we have witnessed the discovery of the remains of 215 children buried on the grounds of the Kamloops residential school, the 104 remains uncovered at the former site of the Brandon residential school, and the 751 remains found at the former site of the Marieval Indian residential school at Cowessess, Saskatchewan, and with the knowledge that many more discoveries are to come. In the same time period, we have also witnessed the Islamophobic attacks in London, Ontario, and a documented rise in Anti-Asian hate crimes. This is not the Canada we want to be.

We have a lot of work to do to live up to the promise of the Canada We Want. The Canada We Want is a place where oppressive and systemic barriers have been removed and replaced by opportunity. And we know a lot more work, by a lot more people and organizations, including ours, is needed to get us there.

As one of Manitoba’s longest-serving charities, we have a role to play in fostering social inclusion. Over the last year we have been expanding our focus on anti-racism and addressing systemic discrimination, including creating a Reconciliation, Equity and Inclusion Committee. This Committee is looking at learning opportunities, policy changes, organizational shifts and other opportunities to be a stronger community partner. We will continue to invest in these efforts and engage in listening, learning, and improving, to ensure that Y Winnipeg is a space that is safe and welcoming for everyone.

Canada continues to grow and develop as a country, and we can choose what kind of country we want to be. By fostering belonging and inclusion in our organizations and in our communities, we can be the Canada We Want.

Here’s to building that better future, while never forgetting where we’ve been.