One Vision One Voice: Celebrating Black History Month by Honouring the Past and Planning for the Future

words black history month against a black background

Started in 2015 following extensive consultations with community stakeholders, families, and Black-serving organizations, One Vision One Voice (OVOV) has been working steadily over the last nine years to address anti-Black racism and support culturally relevant services and equitable outcomes for Black children, youth, and families in Ontario’s child welfare system.

In honour of Black History Month and in recognition of this year’s theme, Black Excellence: A Heritage to Celebrate; a Future to Build, we’re highlighting some of OVOV’s key achievements from the last year and looking forward to what more is to come in 2024 and beyond.

2023 Milestones

  • The Youth Action Committee was created in 2023 to provide a space for Black-identifying youth from the child welfare sector to feel seen, heard, celebrated, and validated. Nine youth were officially recruited to join the committee and though meetings are held quarterly, participating youth often request additional sessions!

  • The fourth annual PowerUp! Symposium for Black youth was held March 6, 2024, 2023. PowerUp! aims to provide a platform for young individuals to connect with the Black community and inspire a sense of togetherness. The 2023 event was the first one held in-person since 2019 and over 180 youth participated in workshops, networked, and celebrated their culture. Watch the 2023 highlights here.

  • As part of OVOV’s commitment to bring together experts from across sectors to identify key drivers and mitigative strategies to address anti-Black racism in child welfare, OVOV hosts annual, provincial Policy Forums. The 2023 event had 349 attendees, including representatives from child welfare, Black-serving community organizations, schools, healthcare, and government.

  • The African Canadian Service Delivery Best Practices Guide, launched in November 2023, is designed for use by child welfare practitioners to support culturally relevant and reflexive services for Black children, youth, and families.

Looking Forward in 2024

  • PowerUp: The fifth edition of PowerUp! is taking place March 4-5. It’s the first time the event has spanned two days since the inaugural event in 2018, and will include opportunities for empowerment, connection, and celebration of Black identity. Learn more, including how to register, here.

  • A key priority in child welfare is to address the issues of disproportionality and disparity of First Nation, Métis, and Inuit (FNMI), Black, and 2SLGBTQ+ children and youth in the system. OVOV is currently collecting data from child welfare agencies through a survey designed to determine the number and proportion of Black children, youth, families, and staff across the child welfare service continuum. The survey will assess agencies’ current initiatives, strategies, and gaps related to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). Responses will help establish a baseline against which to better measure disparity and disproportionality trends across the sector.

  • Cultural identity is an integral part of a child’s life, especially for Black children. That’s why OVOV has been working alongside key stakeholders, including OVOV advisory groups, academics, MCCSS, and young people to develop Kujali: Caring for Black Children – Cultural Awareness Training for Foster Caregivers. The training is designed to support foster caregivers in increasing their capacity to care for the social, emotional, and physical well-being of Black children and youth. It will launch later this year.
We are driven to continue our work alongside and on behalf of Black children, youth, and families. Despite the exciting challenges ahead, we approach them with optimism, love, and an unwavering commitment. The combined efforts of One Vision One Voice and the child welfare sector have provided us with much to be proud of. However, even as we reflect on the past, our focus must remain on achieving sustainable transformation. Black children, youth, and families are currently navigating the child welfare system, underscoring that the seeds of change we sow today have the potential to spark significant transformations tomorrow.
Keishia Facey
Interim Manager of Equity Integration and Program Manager for One Vision One Voice"