For the first time, federal policymakers in the Ministry of Employment and Social Services will take part in a training session led by York University Professor Caroline Shenaz Hossein to learn how to use Black political epistemologies so that funding can better reach Black and racialized women in Canada.
Hossein, a professor of business and society in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS), will train roughly 50 policymakers on Feb. 6 together with community leaders Indu Krishnamurthy of Microcrédit Montreal and Ginelle Skerritt of Warden Woods Community Centre.
The timing of the training session, titled “The Role of the Social Economy for Black and Racialized Canadians,” is significant with February marking Black History Month.
The three women are members of the newly launched Diverse Solidarity Economies (DiSE) Collective, which Hossein founded in 2018 and is a group of anti-racist feminists writing on and/or working on economic development with an eye on cooperatives and informal collectives.
Hossein says the group of 25 women in DiSE have “purposefully come together to combat erasure in the society and economy.”
For the Feb. 6 session, Hossein and her colleagues will work to educate government policyworkers on gaps in funding for racialized groups.
Buzzwords like “innovation” and “social enterprise” continue to alienate racialized people who are bypassed for resources, she says, and those same well-connected groups continue to access the goods on behalf on minority communities.
During the training session, Hossein will focus her training on knowledge, methodolgies and theories around the Black social economy to increase awareness among policymakers when it comes to racial capitalism. Training presentations will also be conducted by Krishnamurthy, who holds an MBA and has two decades of financial development experience, and Skerritt, who has a BA and more than 20 years working in economic development program in low income communities in Toronto.
Hossein hopes that by going directly to policymakers to discuss the $800 million earmarked for social finance and innovation, DiSE will make a difference in the lives of Black and racialized women by emphasizing their exclusion in business and society and championing for these women to have more access to financial goods for community development.
“These strong Black feminist influences in community development will show that solidarity, lived experience and politicizing the social economy is the way for economic change to occur,” said Hossein, adding that the goal is highlight that resource allocations from the $800M cannot exclude the needs of racialized and diaspora Canadians – especially women.
“That is something that is happening far too often, where resources in the field of innovation is not reaching creative businesses of non-white people and the Black women leading activist organizations – and this needs to stop,” said Hossein. “We have the literature, we have the skilled expertise from within the community, and now we need to train and to speak to our policymakers.”
About the members of the DiSE Collective
Caroline Shenaz Hossein is an associate professor of business and society in the Department of Social Science, York University. She is the founder and director of the Diverse Solidarity Economies (DiSE Collective), made up of non-white racialized women scholars and activists committed to decolonizing business in society. She is the author and editor of several publications, including The Black Social Economy in the Americas: Exploring Diverse Community-Based Alternative Markets (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018). Hossein has also received several awards and recognitions, including the 2019 IAFEE and 2018 Du Bois Book awards and the 2018 Early Researcher Award from the Ontario Ministry for Research Innovation and Science for the project titled “Social Innovations among the Diaspora.”
Indu Krishnamurthy is the executive director at Microcrédit Montréal where social impact investments are leveraged to finance entrepreneurship and professional projects, to build a more inclusive and prosperous society. An Executive MBA McGill-HEC Montréal graduate, her work in finance, banking and the non-profit sector has given her a solid experience in community economic development, strategic planning, project management, relationship building and partner engagement strategies. She currently sits on the board of PME-MTL Centre Ville, the investment committee of Centraide du Grand Montréal and is on the advisory committee of the Community Innovation’s Fund of the Quebec Community Groups Network.
Ginelle Skerritt is the executive director of Warden Woods Community Centre (WWCC) and she has led community development and social purpose business development initiatives, promoting a participatory and asset-based service delivery model for the agency. She has worked in the non-profit sector for more than 25 years, advancing from front line community development work with youth, volunteers and families to take on leadership roles in the administration of some of Toronto’s best-known and well-respected organizations, including United Way of Greater Toronto and UNICEF Canada. She is a member of the Board of the Toronto Neighbourhood Centres, Scarborough Executive Director’s Network, and most recently, the United Way and Bank of Montreal-led Inclusive Local Economies table, Skerritt contributes to the strategic leadership of the non-profit sector in Toronto.
Story by Ashley Goodfellow Craig, YFile deputy editor