Board Voice presents to Senate Special Committee

Terry Anne is pictured fifth from the left

Board Voice was delighted to receive an invitation this month to present to the Senate Special Committee on the Charitable Sector. Our co-chair Terry Anne Boyles was able to attend the presentation day in Ottawa on April 8. Here’s the text of the presentation, which the Senate asked to be focused on volunteerism.

Presentation to Senate Special Committee on the Charitable Sector

April 8, 2019

 Presented by Terry Anne Boyles, Co-Chair of the Board Voice Society of BC

Thank you for the opportunity to present to the committee. I’d like to open by recognizing we meet today on traditional unceded Algonquin territory.

Board Voice represents the collective voices of more than 700 volunteer board members and senior staff of community-based non-profits providing social care in BC – from childcare to immigrant and refugee settlement, from social housing to mental health care, seniors services, community kitchens, family counselling, help for children and youth, lifelong support for people with developmental disabilities. Our organizations’ services address the social determinants of health.

Our members range from small organizations like the Kootenay Boundary Community Services Co-op to large, urban service providers such as the Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre and the BC Schizophrenia Society, from the Association Advocating for Women and Community to my home Board of Family Services of Greater Vancouver.

Our member agencies and the volunteer boards of directors who lead them are experts in identifying and addressing the challenges our communities face. We know that unless we plan for better social outcomes and get to the root causes of major societal problems such as opioid deaths, homelessness, poverty, children going hungry, cultural isolation and the vanishing of affordable housing, harmful social crises will just keep rolling over us.

In particular, Board Voice wants to share our thoughts on 3 areas where we need your support:

Board Development

 The volunteer community leaders who sit on non-profit boards across this country play a vital role in strengthening social care, health care and well-being in our communities. As stewards of our organizations, board directors have a unique voice for bringing the issues of our communities to government, and partnering with you in strengthening community. Board directors have immense personal and professional networks for leveraging needed change, and a duty of accountability to the people we serve and the federal, provincial and municipal governments that fund the majority of our work.

We ask for your support in strengthening our ability to do this important work – to partake in development opportunities like those provided by organizations including Board Voice and Vantage Point, and to bring on a new generation of board members with the diversity of skills, backgrounds, cultures and life experiences that both enrich and reflect our organizations and the complex society we now live in. We give our time for free, but need funding to support board development efforts.

Indigenous recognition and reconciliation

 Board Voice strives to garner the knowledge, wisdom and advice of our Indigenous friends, colleagues, neighbours, organizations and governments.  As individuals and community leaders, we recognize the inter-generational trauma and continuing impacts of colonialization, and strive to expand that important public conversation and do our part to follow Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations.

The children, families and communities we serve continue to be dramatically impacted by fragmented policies and continuing laws of the colonial periods. Our volunteer boards need financial support to enable them to further strengthen and grow their knowledge and understanding. We ask that you lend the Committee’s support for such initiatives.

We are your partners

 Every non-profit got its start when people saw a need not being met in their community and came together as volunteers to make changes. The non-profit model is an ideal partner in the delivery of government services and supports, because we are born from community and reinvest every penny into our communities.

When government partners with us, it’s also partnering with all the other community non-profits that we collaborate with, as well as First Nations, provincial and municipal governments, and private funders. Together we build the foundation for a just, equitable and healthy country for all. We trust you agree with us that the vital work of social care in Canada must be done in partnership with volunteer-led community non-profits committed to building better communities.

In closing

 Every Canadian has a vital role to play in strengthening social care in our communities. The voices of volunteer board directors of BC’s community social service organizations are needed now more than ever. We ask you to celebrate this passionate, innovative sector with its long-standing commitment to improving community well-being and social health, and to support us in this essential work.

We appreciate that Imagine Canada, Volunteer Canada, the United Way and others will be heard by the committee later today.  We lend our voice to the insights they will share. Board Voice greatly appreciates the Committee’s invitation to share our perspective.