As we mark the 150th anniversary of confederation, The Philanthropist is profiling Canadians from across the non-profit sector and putting a face to 150 individuals who work or volunteer in Canada’s social sector.
Name: Jorge Salazar
Current role in the sector: Project Director of Inner Activist, a project of Tides Canada
Years working and/or volunteering in the non-profit sector: 16 years.
What was your first job in the sector or a defining moment?
After being in Canada for just over a year, I worked labour, construction and dishwashing jobs. I also volunteered with community and activist groups. That helped me to build an amazing network of people committed to social justice and reflect on my own family’s experience, the conditions of many refugees coming to Canada and the need for systemic change. My mother encouraged me to try jobs in this sector, and I was given an opportunity to work as an outreach worker with immigrant youth with ISS of BC. I also worked at PeerNet BC running workshops on facilitation, mental health and peer support.
Describe your desk/workspace.
Inner Activist runs as a virtual office with staff and contractors working from home both in Vancouver and Victoria, except when we host our courses at the Haven on Gabriola Island. So currently, for me to describe more of my actual day-to-day work space, I’d need to describe my bedroom!
It is amazing how we can run organizations on our computers, through online programs such as Skype, Basecamp and GoToMeeting, and of course our cell phones. It’s fun to be able to work in non-traditional settings. It encourages me and my staff to be creative.
What are you reading or following that has expanded your understanding of the non-profit sector?
Power and Love by Adam Kahane
Pedagogy of the Oppressed and Pedagogy of Hope by Paulo Freire
Undoing Border Imperialism by Harsha Walia
No More Heroes by Jordan Flaherty
The Clean Money Revolution by Joel Solomon
I have started learning more about social enterprise and ethical business practices. I look to people like Joel Solomon and credit unions like Vancity that are trying to shift how people profit and what they do with their money in a way that is not based on the accumulation of profit by a few simply for personal benefit.
What do you think our sector needs to be thinking about?
Equity, diversity and justice comes up a lot. Particularly given the context of what is happening in the United States right now. Leaders in the non-profit sector are often more understanding of systemic issues, but we are not nearly where we need to be.
There needs to be more diversity in non-profit leadership. We all need to make an effort in our hiring practices, in how we engage volunteers and how we make decisions to engage with communities. We can all learn more about diversity in regards to race, gender, sexual orientation and identification, income equality and the diversity of migration journeys.
Do you know someone we should profile as part of this series? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org