Update on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Initiatives

Dear MAPS Canada community,

We wanted to provide an update to our valued volunteers and community about how MAPS Canada is actively working on the issues of diversity, equity and inclusion internal and external to the organization.

As you may be aware, MAPS Canada leadership has been reflecting deeply on how we can be better allies to marginalized and BIPOC communities. We acknowledge, as we have in the past, that the board and staff are white individuals who come from positions of power and privilege, and we are learning more everyday about how we can more effectively use our power and privilege to make the world a better place. While we’re still working through a long-awaited strategic planning process, it has already been decided that board composition will change. We are looking forward to sharing more details as they come.

On December 5th, the MAPS Canada Board were led through diversity and white privilege training by two skilled facilitators, Rup and Laura. The Board all agreed that the training was excellent, informative, and personally insightful. There is still so much to think about, and learn — and we commit to continued learning. As people in leadership positions, our job is not only to help MAPS Canada reach its goal to legalize psychedelics, but to help as many people as we can along the way.  We fully endorse making this powerful training available to all of our volunteers – and details and dates of a future organization and volunteer training will come soon.

Additionally, we wanted to share that the Diversity Committee has been meeting regularly and have completed the Terms of Reference (link). The Objectives as outlined in the Terms of Reference are the following:

  1. Reach out, listen to, and learn from marginalized communities including Indigenous medicine healers with lived psychedelic experiences, and holding space for people who have faced systemic oppression and colonialism.
  2. Provide education internally and externally on how legalized psychedelics can be a source for healing and will help end the War on Drugs which has disproportionately impacted marginalized communities.
  3. Create and continually maintain and update this Terms of Reference for the Diversity Committee that aligns with the objectives of MAPS Canada.
  4. Continue to explore how JEDI principles can help strengthen MAPS Canada as an organization, and achieve its vision and goals of legalizing psychedelics.

The Committee will try to meet those four Objectives through a variety of initiatives, and have identified specific short term and longer term goals. The immediate goals of the Committee are as identified below, with new action items to be added as goals are completed. Please see the full list in the Terms of Reference document.

  1. To have greater representation and engagement with marginalized communities who have been historically oppressed. Specifically:
    • Build upon our network of individuals who can participate at psychedelic conferences and events with the goal of improving representation.
    • Diversify the subject and therapist pool which currently underrepresents marginalized communities in our clinical research.
    • Fostering conversations and creating an inclusive space for BIPOC researchers to apply for funding by making the funding application process more transparent.
    • Diversify MAPS Canada volunteers to have increased representation of marginalized people.
  2. Engage people whose profession entails higher incidences of traumatic experiences, for example, BIPOC first responders, military personnel, doctors, and nurses, while acknowledging the historical harm that the police, military, and medical institutions have had on marginalized communities.
  3. Identify and educate therapists and other leaders to reach out and engage marginalized communities, with the goal of providing education on the benefits of psychedelic legalization.
  4. Begin developing a wide range of educational materials in different languages exploring MAPS Canada’s work and the benefits of psychedelic legalization.
  5. Carry out decolonization, diversity and anti-racism training in MAPS Canada to work towards: discarding and unlearning colonial ideas, values and degradation practices, dismantling historical and contemporary colonial approaches and practices, and improving literacy regarding diversity issues so we can communicate effectively as an organization.

Thank you for your continued support, and we are always open to hear your feedback on how we can better serve you and the community.

In service,

Mark Haden

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