Anti-Oppression

Commitment to on-going Anti-Oppression work

On February 19, 2021, the Grand issued a statement of its commitment to ongoing Anti-Oppression work.

Following both the tragic death of George Floyd in May of 2020, and the subsequent public actions via Black Lives Matter marches around the world, leadership at the Grand Theatre felt compelled to examine the theatre’s own history and complicity in systemic racism within our community.

In this, the final week of Black History Month 2021, the Grand Theatre is publicly acknowledging the need within the theatre community to dismantle the systemic racism and oppressive history of which they have been a part. Acknowledging their participation in this history required reflection, research, and a plan to move forward, the Grand announced that during the past nine months, the Board and Staff have embarked upon the first phase of a journey to disrupt the cycle of oppression, marginalization, and exploitation. The work required to move forward towards a more just and equitable company and industry has begun.

Readers may access the full press release by clicking here.

To guide Board and Staff through the required first phases of unlearning and re-learning, the Grand retained the services of E.B. Smith of HC Smith Ltd. Both an actor and former member of the Grand’s Board of Directors, E.B.’s unique perspective was instrumental in assisting with the establishment of the Grand’s Anti-Oppression Committee, comprised of both Staff and Board members, the development of the Anti-Oppression mission statement, and executing a strategy for ongoing, meaningful sets of internal conversations across and between departments.

The mission statement, as developed by the eight-member Anti-Oppression Committee and unanimously approved by the over 70 members of the Grand’s Board and Staff, is a fluid, working document intended to inform the choices we make, and the directions we take in our everyday policies and practices.

Anti-Oppression Mission Statement

Institutions across Canada are being called upon to recognize and address historical and contemporary practices that have resulted in and perpetuated social inequity and harm.

We at the Grand Theatre recognize and acknowledge our part in this history and current reality. The Grand Theatre has a responsibility to take decisive action to ensure that the theatre is an inclusive and accessible place. To this end, we will name, address, and eliminate harmful behaviours, practices, and inequities that we have both produced and reproduced. Our Anti-Oppression work will examine how race, gender, class, region, religion, ethnicity, sexuality, ability, and all intersections of those categories interact with our organizational processes, so that we do not reproduce harm in our hiring, programming, and daily business operations.

While the Grand Theatre has benefitted from diverse cultures through performances on our stages, we have not fully acknowledged our cultural impact on these communities.

We have much to do to build trust, consistency, and accountability as allies with Black, Indigenous, People of Colour, and other marginalized groups. Therefore, we will remove systemic barriers to participation and ensure our organization is a physically and emotionally safe space for BIPOC and other marginalized groups at all intersections of identity.

As well, we will deliberately seek out and recruit BIPOC and other marginalized groups to work and participate at every level of our organization ensuring that people are welcomed, respected, supported, and valued in our theatre.

We commit to building and fostering authentic and sustained relationships with the communities we value but have excluded.

Through the work described above, we will achieve an accessible, equitable, and inclusive Grand Theatre community of artists, audiences, donors, boards, and staff.

This will be the foundation of our work and practice at the Grand Theatre.

The Grand Theatre's Anti-Oppression Committee

Daniel Bennett - Technical Director
Paul Fujimoto-Pihl - Project Manager
Dennis Garnhum - Artistic Director
Deb Harvey - Executive Director
George Kerhoulas - Board Member (Vice-President)
Anita Shah - Board Member (President)
E.B. Smith - consultant (HC Smith Ltd.)
Megan Watson - Artistic Associate

Additional Resources and Information


E.B. Smith

On Wednesday, February 10, 2021, E.B. Smith was the featured speaker at the Canadian Club of London where he spoke on the topic of "The Myth of Canadian Politeness". With the permission of E.B. and the Canadian Club, the link to this compelling and necessary address is available here: The Myth of Canadian Politeness

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