Huzaifa Faisal and Sierra Swallow
The non-profit and voluntary sector (NPVS) is a critical economic engine as well as a social and environmental progress leader that supports our society’s increasing demand for services. The future stability of our communities depends upon this essential sector. The Community Development Unit (Alberta Government) works to proactively create capacity development and systemic change in the non-profit ecosystem. However, the NPVS is rooted in old systems and policies (nearly 100 years) that can sometimes inhibit system innovations and diversity of approach.
One of the ways to determine whether system innovations are possible is to look at leadership, leadership representation, leadership structure and systems. Canada’s NPVS sector’s leadership is predominantly rooted in Western epistemologies which creates a trickle-down effect of who feels comfortable standing in those spaces, and thus, the decisions that are made, which affect the whole of our society and its resiliency.
The workshop is part sharing about our journey related to a project, “Two-eyed Governance in the Non-profit Sector”, and part invitation to a conversation to look at Indigenous governance approaches in Alberta’s NPVS. Alongside supporting the deep cultural healing and relearning of Indigenous systems of governance and leadership, we see an opportunity in the possibility of interweaving Indigenous ways of knowing and being and Western epistemologies and systems of governance and leadership. In interweaving both approaches, we see the potential for increased strength and resiliency in NPVS by adopting the guiding principle of two-eyed seeing, which sees from one eye with the wisdom of Indigenous ways of knowing and the other eye with the strengths of Western knowledge, for the benefit of all.
Our project intends to a) increase awareness and legitimacy of Indigenous models and ways of being in NPVS governance/leadership; b) support understanding needed to make policy more equitable; c) Increase the number of leadership spaces that support recognition of and safety in presenting different models and approaches to governance; and d) Increase diversity of thought and approach in NPVS governance.
KEYWORDS: leadership, Indigenous ways, non-profit sector, voluntary sector