CCR Anti-Oppression Policy

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1. CCR Mission Statement

The Canadian Council for Refugees is a non-profit umbrella organization committed to the rights and protection of refugees in Canada and around the world and to the settlement of refugees and immigrants in Canada. The membership is made up of organizations involved in the settlement, sponsorship and protection of refugees and immigrants. The Council serves the networking, information-exchange and advocacy needs of its membership.

2. CCR Organizational Principles

The CCR is guided by the following organizational principles:

  • The membership of the Canadian Council for Refugees reflects the diversity of those concerned with refugee and settlement issues and includes refugees and other interested people in all regions of Canada;
  • The work of the Council is democratic and collaborative;
  • Our work is national and international in scope.

3. Definitions

For the purpose of this Policy, the CCR uses the following definitions:

  • Discrimination is the treatment or consideration based on class or category rather than individual merit and that can be used to privilege (special treatment in favour of) as well as disadvantage (special treatment against) a particular group or individual.
  • Oppression is the use of power or privilege by a socially, politically, economically, culturally dominant group (or groups) to disempower (take away or reduce power), marginalize, silence or otherwise subordinate one social group or category.
  • Systemic Oppression consists of practices, policies, laws and standards that disadvantage a particular group or category of people.
  • Individual Oppression is demeaning and oppressive behaviour towards and treatment of a particular group or category of people, expressed through individual attitudes, beliefs and values.
  • Anti-Oppression is the work of actively challenging and removing oppression perpetuated by power inequalities in society, both systemic oppression and individual expressions of oppression.

The CCR recognizes that certain people in our society face oppressive experiences because of individual and systemic unequal power related to race, colour, culture, ethnicity, language and linguistic origin, ability, socio-economic class, age (children, youth, seniors), ancestry, nationality, place of birth, religion or faith or other forms of conscientiously held beliefs, sex, gender (including gender identity and expression), sexuality (including sexual orientation), family status (including marital status), and residency/migratory status in Canada.

We recognize that these forms of unequal power have impacted in particularly harsh ways on the Aboriginal population in Canada. We also acknowledge that the CCR is a reflection of the society in which we live, and that these uses of power exist within the CCR.

The CCR recognizes that individuals may have power in some way, sometimes in more than one way, even though they can experience oppression in another way or multiple, combined ways. For example someone who experiences oppression because of race, may have some degree of privilege and power because of gender.

The CCR recognizes that unequal power operates both at a personal level in interactions between people, and at a systemic level through rules, structures and practices. We recognize that refugees’ flight is the result of experiences of oppression, and that refugees and immigrants are subject to various forms of discrimination and oppression within Canada. We come together in the CCR because we recognize the need for broad change, and the need for combating oppression in and through our work, so that all refugees and immigrants are treated with dignity and their rights are recognized and protected.

The CCR values the contributions of every individual who belongs to our membership and our network, and who supports us in fulfilling our mission. The CCR recognizes that discriminatory and oppressive acts and mechanisms can prevent individuals in our membership and our network from engaging with the CCR in a way that fully reflects their ability, experience and contributions. We recognize that such barriers can limit not only their contributions, but also their potential to engage with the CCR at all levels, particularly at the levels of leadership.

The CCR recognizes that individuals and groups who are disempowered and marginalized because of discrimination have the capacity to make choices and act on their own behalf to bring about change that will eliminate oppression for themselves and others.

The CCR also recognizes that understanding, acknowledging and working to eliminate oppression is a learning process for us all. We recognize that different people can be at different stages in the learning process. We recognize that we all need to make the effort to learn, create opportunities for learning and assist each other in the learning process.

The CCR is therefore making a commitment to anti-oppression in all the areas of our work focused externally on changing our society and internally on eliminating oppression within the CCR. This commitment takes ground in our belief that change is not only necessary but possible, through an intentional process of organizational learning and change.

The CCR will therefore ensure that its work accurately reflects and uses the variety of knowledge of all peoples as the basis for all of our activities; that it recognizes the leadership of disempowered and marginalized individuals and groups to bring about anti-oppressive change; and that it acknowledges the existence of discrimination and makes a conscious effort to challenge oppression. The CCR will work towards ensuring that:

  • The membership of the CCR accurately reflects the range of groups that form our society; and that our process to develop and select our leadership is free of bias and that it promotes equitable representation of the diversity of our membership;
  • The CCR’s consultations and meetings are organized and conducted in an accessible way, so that all participants can contribute in a manner free from obstacles, barriers and oppression. This involves a particular leadership role and responsibility among CCR leaders (Executive Committee, Working Group chairs and Core Group chairs) and staff, as well as the ongoing commitment among CCR members to offer each other an environment where oppression is challenged and countered;
  • The CCR’s networking, information sharing and strategizing endeavours are informed by the goal of identifying and countering the impact of the various and combined forms of oppression affecting refugees and immigrants;
  • The CCR’s work in areas such as advocacy with government and parliamentarians, and communications with the media and the public addresses the diverse and combined forms of oppression facing refugees and immigrants, and promotes change to counter such oppression.
  • Our capacity and the capacity of our membership is strengthened to challenge unequal power and biases that lead to oppression;
  • We strengthen our capacity and the capacity of our membership to develop individual leadership potential;
  • The CCR has an effective process for resolving concerns and complaints that may arise from members’ experience of unfair, inequitable or oppressive treatment within the CCR;
  • Financial and human resources are sought to support the CCR’s commitment to anti-oppression;
  • A process is put into place to develop policies and practices that promote anti-oppression, and to implement, periodically review and improve such policies and practices where necessary.
May 2009