YMCAs in Canada Statement of Reconciliation

YMCA Canada Canada Day 2021 Statement

While July 1st is a time of celebration and rest for many, YMCA 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 where all have a deep sense of belonging. 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 Canada’s largest service charities, the YMCA has 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 learning opportunities for staff and volunteers, working with community partners, and conducting research on our practices to help us understand how we can better reflect the diversity of the communities we serve. We will continue to invest in these efforts and engage in listening, learning, and improving, to ensure that the YMCA 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.

The YMCA Federation in Canada’s Statement of Reconciliation was unanimously approved by all YMCAs in Canada and strengthens our dedication to reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples and communities in Canada. It is reflective of the YMCA Federation’s commitment to fostering a sense of belonging for all and its values of inclusiveness, accountability, and collaboration.

The YMCAs in Canada have a commitment to building healthy communities through the power of belonging. Communities that are safe and vibrant, with a strong economy and a sustainable environment. Communities within a Canada that demonstrates:

  • leadership in improving the health of all people;
  • respect for diversity and pluralism;
  • combatting inequality;
  • protecting its most vulnerable; and
  • nurturing the potential of young people. 

For our country to become the Canada We Want, the YMCA recognizes that we must place a special and intentional focus on Canada's relationship with Indigenous Peoples.

The YMCA movement in Canada declares its commitment to reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. We acknowledge and respect that our programs, services, and community facilities are on the traditional territory of Indigenous Peoples. 

YMCAs in Canada are aware of the impact that colonial actions, including residential schools, have had on Indigenous Peoples, and we remain committed to understanding past injustices and will continue to move forward for a better future.

YMCAs in Canada are committed to playing our role in addressing the Calls to Action that have been made by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, such as:

19. …. close the gaps in health outcomes between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities;

92iii. Provide education for management and staff on the history of Aboriginal Peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal Crown relations. This will require skills-based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism.

We are committed to developing and sharing program models, tools, and resources that will improve Indigenous Peoples’ access to our programs and services.

We will work with Indigenous communities as partners to find opportunities to have an active presence where it is desired.

YMCAs in Canada are committed to moving beyond a Statement of Reconciliation to the development and implementation of an Action Plan which will be reviewed regularly.

The YMCA Federation in Canada’s Statement of Reconciliation was unanimously approved by all YMCAs in Canada and strengthens our dedication to reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples and communities in Canada. It is reflective of the YMCA Federation’s commitment to fostering a sense of belonging for all and its values of inclusiveness, accountability, and collaboration.

Learn more about our journey towards reconciliation

This report provides an update on initiatives happening across Canada within YMCA Member Associations, as part of our commitment to reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.

Read the report