Mark Smith on Facebook: We’ve been here before

Mark, a highly qualified doctor (or a sort – he heals sick organizations), worked on the Community Advisory Panel and sat on the Pride Toronto board. He writes on his Facebook (2016.07.07; copy-edited).

See also

Mark’s original discussion paper “Rebuilding Our Pride.“

To the Board of Directors of Pride Toronto

My neighbour’s strength is my strength. What can I do to support my neighbours in the community? How can I use my position and privilege to build a foundation for better equality across the city?

– from the City of Calgary Homeless Policy

In 2003, Pride Toronto hit a bump, and over the next year and a half, with the help of many I drafted a document called Rebuilding Our Pride. I presented it in my last meeting in that term on the Board.

In 2009, Pride was heading for another crisis; this paper was presented again, and became the impetus for the Community [Advisory Panel], resulting in the CAP report. This paper became part of Recommendation Nº 8 in that report.

Can I suggest that it is now time to revisit this document?

The Board of Directors is the community’s voice within Pride, and being on the Board is acceptance of responsibility to act on behalf of the community. I am reaching out to you to take the initiative to get this started.

The community is hurting, and sadly this is not new news! The one thing we know for sure is that the community spoke and Pride ignored the cry. We must move forward and to do that we need to start with a solid and sturdy foundation.

Yes, you are having a town hall in August, but this is something that should start now because it will address bigger issues, like Pride’s purpose, mission, values, vision, and governance structure; the role and structure of the board; staffing; sponsorship; and corporate support.

Amongst the many things that need to be addressed is a revisit of the criteria for participation in the parade, Community Fair and Marketplace. This would include sponsorship and its role.

It is important that you take on this necessary challenge, in some form, because none of this is new news. How long can voices be raised and nobody hears?

It is important you do this without staff support, as any decisions made in this process will ultimately affect their jobs and how they do them. Staff has a key element in their job description with Pride and that is to close off the year and, in the next 60 days, prepare the audit for annual general meeting.

I debated taking this to you privately first, but in the end felt that conversations have already taken place – in 2003 and 2009. In 2010 the community spoke loudly and clearly with the CAP report. Subsequent staff and boards (including ones I sat on) dismissed or ignored the community’s voice. If CAP had been addressed and understood you would not be feeling the way you do this week.

History has proven that a lack of transparency and failure in communications are what get you in trouble. Let’s fix that…. Let’s do this. And do it right.