YMCAs in Canada Statement of Reconciliation

YMCA Canada Canada Day 2022 Statement

This Canada Day, YMCA Canada is reflecting on this moment in time, the state of our country, and the world. From the work to support refugees who continue to flee from countries like Ukraine and Afghanistan, to divisions around COVID-19 safety protections, and continued inequities in our society, it is clear that many challenges lie ahead of us. We have seen what is possible when we work together for a greater good, as we have throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. But we have also seen what happens when we ignore our collective responsibility to each other.

At the YMCA, we have always believed in the greater good, and even when things seem dark, we fiercely hold onto this belief as our guiding light. That together, we can be a place for people to connect, hear each other, and live up to our collective responsibility. That we can help people do more than participate —we can help them contribute. That when we do this, we build healthy communities.

We’re hopeful that the sentiment that everyone has the right to belong, thrive, and have their basic needs met will persevere. We recognize the harm to communities when that is not the dominant sentiment, and we hold no tolerance for harmful ideologies. We believe people can learn and transform and come to realize that everyone has the right to belong. This is the Canada We Want.

Last year on Canada Day, many called for the need for reflection and action on truth and reconciliation, as Indigenous communities mourned and grappled with the identification of Indigenous children’s remains at former residential school sites in British Columbia, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan. Also in 2021, Canada marked its first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Since last year’s Canada Day, more searches have begun and recoveries have been made across Turtle Island. As Indigenous communities expect the number of unmarked graves to continue to rise, today we are taking time to acknowledge the grief and outrage that is being felt through the ongoing recovery process, and to amplify calls for further progress on the TRC Calls to Action.

As one of Canada’s largest service charities, the YMCA has a vital role to play in furthering truth and reconciliation efforts within our organization and beyond. This is reflected by our Statement of Reconciliation, our 2020 report on Reconciliation Initiatives within the YMCA Associations of Canada, and the ongoing learning and dialogue events and workshops taking place for YMCA staff, volunteers, and members. We still have much work to do.

This Canada Day, we encourage all non-Indigenous Canadians to make time for unlearning, anti-colonial solidarity efforts, and truth and reconciliation actions that address the past harms and legacy of the residential school system. We express continued solidarity with Indigenous communities, including our Indigenous YMCA staff, volunteers, and members.

We remain hopeful that through the strength of caring, collaboration, community, we can move closer to achieving the Canada We Want.

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