Edward Kennedy’s 2020 Diversity Remarks

Like it has for so many people, recent events in Canada and the United States causes us to deeply reflect on the issue of racism within our society, and within our company.  We are starkly reminded, that for Indigenous, Black, and other people of colour, being discriminated against based on race is pervasive, painful and often dangerous.

While we are horrified by these racial tragedies we are rarely horrified by the systems that make them possible and reoccurring.  At least perhaps until now.  These events tell us now is the time to act, as individuals and as an organization with over 8,000 diverse associates serving thousands of people who have directly experienced racism, on a regular basis.

We can start towards being allies by committing to listen and learn from each other with care, an open mind and a willingness to learn.  We benefit immensely by having frank, uncomfortable but important conversations, with attention to the experiences of Indigenous, Black and other people of colour.

There are many ways to have these discussions. One that we’ll start next week is an online forum that will invite all our associates to share their perspectives in an open, safe manner.  We consider this step as critical to the journey we are on together, leading to meaningful actions.  We also commit to engaging in similar dialogues with communities and customers we serve and to providing financial resources towards making this happen, in conjunction with other organizations.

We also have a responsibility to sustain what we do, so that it effects actual change.  One area is our work on a public and internal response to the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission related to harms caused by Indigenous Residential Schools in Canada and the Canadian Final Report into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

Finally, we have a duty to stand up to everyday acts of racism whenever and wherever we see them and stand against oppressive systems whether they are police violence, the legal process, voter suppression practices or the privilege of economic and social power structures.  Where we don’t have answers we can challenge and question including ourselves.

Our diversity is our strength when it is based on the practice, not the words, of mutual respect, fairness and equality. That is our hope and goal as we welcome more thoughts and views on this important subject.