We thought our services were welcoming and accessible to everyone. A few years ago, the harsh reality struck us when we realized our services were not being accessed equitably by the Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC), 2SLGBT+, and other marginalized communities.

More recently the pandemic highlighted this inequity in our children’s mental health services. While some of our services experienced a more than doubling in demand, we did not see a corresponding increase in clients from marginalized communities despite the disproportionate impact the pandemic had on these communities.

As a community agency, we knew this must change if we are to achieve our vision of Communities where all children, youth, adults, and families experience mental wellness, financial stability, and a safe place to live.

After consultations within and across the community and some deep reflection, we acknowledged Canada’s history of systemic racism and oppression and recognized the need for structural and institutional change. We made a commitment to imbed anti-racist, anti-oppressive perspectives and practices into the fabric of the organization. We hired an Equity Leader, established an Equity Leadership Council, created spaces for learning and training, began more equitable recruitment, and prioritized the development and delivery of an equity strategy.

The equity strategy provides the clear, measurable goals necessary for dismantling anti-Black racism, anti-Indigenous racism, and all forms of oppression at Lutherwood. It outlines 5 priority areas, along with 34 actions that aim to make Lutherwood an equitable place for all. These actions are just the beginning, as this list is not comprehensive and will evolve further as we continue to grow and serve our community.

Since beginning our anti-racism, anti-oppression journey, we have learned and achieved a lot. While we have always worked hard to make Lutherwood a safe place to work and to access services, we have more to do. After all, this is what our work is really about: listening to the voices that have not been heard and serving those who have not previously been well-served.