truth justice reconciliation

“A racial equity lens separates symptoms from causes, but a racial justice lens brings into view the confrontation of power, the redistribution of resources and the systemic transformation necessary for real change.” – from Grantmaking with a Racial Justice Lens


In 2018 Central City Foundation began a deep and comprehensive review of our governance, which resulted in an immensely improved framework and a new Governance Manual that better reflect our values, practices and policies. In this process, we have identified our two core policies, which are known collectively as our DNA policies, and which guide all our work at CCF of helping people in the inner city improve their lives and move us closer to our vision of an inclusive, safe and resilient community in which everyone can participate, prosper & reach their full potential. We are pleased to share these guiding policies on Truth, Justice & Reconciliation, as well as our commitment to Community-focused philanthropy and community-led solutions with justice as our goal.

Board Policy #1 Truth, Justice & Reconciliation

1. Purpose

As a signatory to the Canadian Philanthropic Community’s Declaration of Action on Truth and Reconciliation (2015), the Central City Foundation Board (“CCF”) is committed to sharing networks and resources and building relationships with Indigenous communities to further the work of reconciliation and support the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The purpose of this policy is to further describe our commitment and how it shapes our approach to both governance and operations.
CCF has had a long history of funding and providing subsidized community space for a number of organizations supporting Indigenous people in Vancouver’s inner city, including (as of March 2019) Vancouver Native Health Society at the Phil Bouvier Family Centre, the Aboriginal Mothers Centre, Urban Native Youth Association, Indigenous Health at BC Women’s Hospital and Health Centre, Native Education College, Lu’ma Native Housing and Vancouver Native Housing Society.

2. Scope and Definitions

This policy applies to all CCF Directors, employees and contractors for the term of their service or such
other period as stated herein.

3. Policy

3.1 CCF recognizes and acknowledges the historical and ongoing colonization and exclusion practices of Canadian policy and law, including treaties, intended to remove Indigenous peoples from their land, ignore Indigenous rights, and the attempt through a process of assimilation and violence, to cause Indigenous peoples to cease to exist as distinct legal, social, cultural, spiritual and racial people in Canada, as referenced in the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and the Final Report, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Inquiry.

3.2 In 1982 the Government of Canada repatriated the Canadian Constitution, and in doing so formally entrenched Aboriginal and treaty rights in the supreme law of Canada. Nonetheless, CCF recognizes and acknowledges that, through the Indian Act and other policy and structures of Canadian governments, historical wrongs were entrenched within the race based Indian Act, through creation then disregard of treaties; failure to provide equitable public services; and continuing attempts to remove Indigenous people from their lands.

3.3 CCF further recognizes and acknowledges that these combined unjust policies and practices create and enable an ongoing environment of racism and exclusion, and continue to negatively impact Indigenous peoples today, including through poverty, homelessness, targeting of Indigenous women and girls for sexual exploitation, apprehension of Indigenous children, and imprisoning Indigenous people. We commit to be a strong, appreciative ally, and pledge to move forward in an atmosphere that promotes mutual understanding, dignity and respect.

3.4 We honour and respect Indigenous peoples, knowledge and cultures, and recognize the resilience and resistance of Indigenous peoples. We commit to be a strong, appreciative ally, and pledge to move forward in an atmosphere that promotes mutual understanding, dignity and respect.

3.5 We will do our part to build new relationships between Indigenous peoples and non-Indigenous Canadians, based on a deep respect for the pre-existing individual and collective rights of Indigenous peoples, including the right to self-determination, as detailed in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

3.6 As beneficiaries of the unequal systems around us, including the legacy of colonialism, Central City Foundation is committed to grappling with our privilege, understanding how our way of working may serve to reinforce the very inequalities we seek to change and, therefore, interrogating our philanthropic model, with justice as our objective.

3.7 Acknowledging that the Truth and Reconciliation process is a time of transition, we will at all times seek to understand our role in moving the transition forward.

4. Procedures

4.1 We work intentionally on this path to learn and remember, understand and acknowledge, and share our networks, our voices, and our resources to benefit Indigenous peoples.

4.2 We build lasting, reciprocal relationships with our Indigenous community partners, based on mutual understanding, dignity, respect, and self-determination.

4.3 All CCF Board and staff members will complete training on anti-Indigenous discrimination, decolonization and racism. Throughout their service, they will engage in ongoing professional and volunteer development to deepen and update their understanding of truth and reconciliation in our community.

4.4 As part of the terms of their affiliation/employment with the Foundation, all CCF Board and staff members will confirm in writing that they have read, understood and are committed to upholding this policy.

4.5 We will share our expertise through organizations we work with, and use that experience as a learning opportunity to further our understanding of the work of truth and reconciliation.

4.6 When working with Indigenous community partners, we:

4.6.1 Practice deep, radical listening, to better understand the impacts and legacy of colonization and racism; and

4.6.2 Seek to embed truth and reconciliation in all our activities.

Board Policy #2 Community-focused Philanthropy & Community-led Solutions

1. Purpose

At Central City Foundation (“CCF”), we maximize our impact and consistently deliver on our mission to improve lives in Vancouver’s inner city, by ensuring everything we do is community-focused and community-led.

This approach:

Is rooted in more than 100 years of consistent, authentic proximity and deep, radical listening to those closest to the issues or struggling on the ground in community, and amplifying those voices and solutions; and
Requires a commitment to understanding the complex history and social context of the community, giving recognition to the intersectional inequality and inequity that characterizes social interactions in our community and the very real, disproportionate material outcomes of that injustice.

Founded in 1907 by a small group of neighbours, CCF has committed to doing the work necessary to truly see the whole community and full humanity of all our neighbours, and sometimes making very difficult choices among competing needs. Part of this commitment includes taking risks to support community-led solutions that may not always be popular or easy. Thus, we sometimes invest substantial efforts in building understanding of disparate stakeholders: we are not afraid to challenge supporters, donors, or others to make the same commitment to community.

CCF’s business model reflects our commitment to community-focused philanthropy and community-led solutions. We invest up to half of our core capital in social purpose real estate that holds space and place for community, extends our impact exponentially, and ensures our financial sustainability. While our annual grant-making budget remains modest, our long-term investment and commitment to community through social purpose real estate means, for every dollar CCF invests, conservative estimates demonstrate we generate four dollars in social and financial return.

2. Scope and Definitions

This policy applies to all CCF Directors, employees and contractors for the term of their service with CCF or such other period as stated herein.
We define community as a combination of geographic, interest-based and demographic factors: a group of people living in the same place or having a feeling of fellowship and common purpose, as a result of sharing attitudes, interests and goals. While much of Central City Foundation’s focus has been on the immediate geographic community of Vancouver’s inner city, we are also part of larger provincial and national communities that work to respond to and redress the results of generations of intersectional inequality and inequity.

3. Policy

3.1. Central City Foundation is committed to remaining rooted in community, seeking to act as a trusted broker bringing together the complex resources needed to support community-led solutions that will improve lives and build an inclusive community, one in which all can participate, prosper and reach their full potential.

3.2. We will mobilize all CCF resources—our financial capital, knowledge and human resources—in pursuit of our mission to improve lives and build a more equitable, resilient community.

3.2.1. Mobilization of our resources will be informed by community-identified needs and responses.

3.3. CCF is committed to diversity plus equity and inclusion. We seek to include a broad demographic mix reflective of difference—including race, gender, ability, age and more—among our staff, Board and volunteers, all of whom have the opportunity for meaningful participation in decision making. Together, we work to understand the underlying root causes of disparities in outcomes within our community in order to promote justice and fairness.

3.4. We will minimize inequitable practices in our philanthropy, and work to balance our response to the needs of individual organizations with the impact on the whole community.

3.5. We will partner with organizations grounded in community, where those with lived experience have meaningful input into designing community-led solutions and delivering services.

3.5.1 CCF respects the agency and expertise of our grantees and community tenants—our community partners. We are committed to their right to design solutions for their lives.

3.6. CCF supports community-led solutions by making space for community. We build space by investing in social purpose real estate, and we hold space for community development through convening our community partners to strengthen cooperation and collaboration and amplifying their voices.

4. Procedures

4.1. CCF’s fundraising, grant-making and community investment are grounded in our understanding of the history and social context of our community, taking into account the intersectional inequality and inequity that characterize social interactions throughout our community. To that end, this policy will be considered in all our decisions relating to raising money, investing it for growth in financial value, and investing it in community.

4.2. We respect, appreciate, recognize and seek to build authentic relationships with our donors. We use these same principles with our community partners, staff, Board members, volunteers, government representatives, and others engaged with us in the work of building an equitable and resilient community.

4.3. We will reduce and where possible eliminate unnecessary administrative burdens on our partners generated by their requests for and/or receipt of CCF support.

4.3.1. We will regularly review our application and granting processes to ensure they are simplified to reduce the administrative burden on partners.

4.3.2. We will maintain flexibility in our approach to project management, working with community partners and responding together to material changes and opportunities over the life of their grant in ways that reinforce their autonomy and agency.

4.3.3. We will involve and listen to our partners when designing outcome measures, to balance our focus on impact measurement with awareness of the burden imposed on our partners for measurement reporting.

4.4. We will speak to the value of engagement with community as a key strategy for positive change.

4.5. We will request and participate in site visits to enhance our understanding of our partners’ community context and operating realities.