The Calgary African Community Collective (CACC), in partnership with the Network for the Advancement of Black Communities (NABC) and the Calgary Foundation, hosted a two-day summit on November 9 and 10, 2023 to launch the African Canadian Collaborative for Systems Transformation initiative. Guided by the Nguzo Saba principles, this initiative aspires to shift the dynamics of power and drive change by empowering African Canadian grassroots organizations and associations through knowledge mobilization, research, adaptive capacity building and systems thinking.
The Summit served as a platform to expand on future aspirations outlined in the initiative’s framework by using collective knowledge and wisdom to advance critical pieces of the initiative. Co-creative spaces facilitated vibrant dialogue and exchange on critical items, including expanding on the initiatives Theory of Change, identifying key elements of a Knowledge Mobilization Framework, crafting a Training and Development plan, and exploring how Black communities and organizations can better collaborate to ensure effective change.
Allan Boesak, Senior Co-ordinator for Strategic Initiatives at NABC and Summit Facilitator, emphasized, “When one recognizes that the complex challenges that Black communities face, cannot be solved by individuals but requires collaborative and diverse efforts, the conversations we have and questions we ask will start to change which opens the door for new approaches on how we address these challenges.”
Thought provoking presentations, story-telling and interactive discussions deepened participants collective understanding of Systems Transformation in the context of a Black eco-system. These sessions acknowledged both accomplishments and stories of success, while equally addressing the challenges that we must face and overcome to effect meaningful change. “The data and our collective experience tell us that singular interventions that happen in isolation are not moving the needle for Black communities. This initiative aspires to intentionally drive collaboration and find co-created solutions to our toughest challenges,” commented amanuel melles, Executive Director of NABC and Summit facilitator alongside Boesak. Participants also learned about the journeys of two Black leaders, Jerome Morgan (innovations expert and change agent) and Kizito Musabimana (founder and Executive Director of the Rwandan Canadian Healing Center) as they engaged in conversation with amanuel melles to share their personal stories of Systems Transformation through an Afrocentric lens.
The Summit culminated with the official launch of the initiative, led by Farah Ali, Executive Director of the CACC, and its Board members. He commented, “We are excited about our collaboration with NABC, it will allow us to mobilize resources, interest and partnerships to create the conditions to tackle generational poverty and inequity that have marginalized our communities.”
As a learning partner, the Calgary Foundation initiated a 3-year pilot program dedicated to supporting transformational and lasting change by empowering impacted communities to shape their own futures. As part of this initiative, the Calgary Foundation awarded CACC with $1,100,000 in funding over three years to implement the African Canadian Systems Transformation initiative. NABC will play the role of strategic collaborative advisor to CACC, providing guidance in driving system-wide transformation, knowledge mobilization, sustainability, and evaluation support.