The Dyke March Toronto Team hosted an information session about the upcoming Pride Toronto Annual General Meeting and proposed bylaws on October 17. Current board members were present, as well as Pride Toronto staff, volunteers, community organizers and concerned members of the trans and queer communities. In advance of the meeting, some of our Dyke March Team Members read the current bylaws, the proposed set of bylaws, the 2010 Community Advisory Panel (CAP) report, and attended community consultations to put together the following summary:
What’s happening at the AGM?
• election of new members to Board of Directors
• presentation of new bylaws for approval
• presentation of financial statements
What’s missing from the new bylaws?
• a sliding scale membership fee (the fee is fixed at $10)
• ability of members to add items to AGM agendas
• ability of members to call special meetings
• no account for member’s accessibility requirements
• mandated community consultations (ie: a Pride Toronto community meeting to recap the past festival and/or solicit suggestions for the coming year)
• mandated standing committee (such as the Community Engagement Committee)
• no stipulations on the composition of the Board to ensure diversity and representation
• no access to Board meetings, minutes, or agendas
• no implementation of the CAP report recommendations
Overall, the new bylaws do not empower the membership and do not demonstrate the importance of inclusion and representation of our diverse queer and trans communities. Instead, the bylaws maintain the status quo of the Board’s hierarchal governance, perpetuating a lack of accountability and transparency.
This summary, as well as questions from other members of the community, guided the discussion. Some key concerns were: accountability and transparency; communication with members; community consultations; accessibility; and diversity within the board.
The CAP report was produced in response to many concerns about the 2010 Pride Festival. The report put forward 135 recommendations, 12 of which were related specifically to governance. The discussion revealed that none of these governance recommendations are included in the new bylaws. Pride board members insisted that many concerns raised, such as recruiting board nominees from marginalized groups, are already taken into consideration. The community suggests that mandating things like the commitment to accessibility and the diverse composition of the board by putting them in the bylaws will improve transparency within the organization, will demonstrate that the organization listens and cares, and allow for greater accountability. If these are already common practices, putting them in the bylaws will simply underline Pride’s commitment to these issues. You can download the full CAP report on the Trans March Toronto Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/trans.march.toronto/files/
Many attendees raised concerns about unacknowledged biases within the board and the board selection process that disadvantage marginalized communities. Some were curious about what anti-oppression practices and training board members participate in to uncover the ways these biases may play out in their various roles. Others challenged the board members to reconsider what qualities signal a suitable candidate, as some forms of knowledge are valued while others are devalued based on assumptions about class, race, and other systems of oppression. The community suggests that these anti-oppression practices be added into the bylaws in order to improve transparency, accessibility, accountability, and its relationship with queer communities.
The Dyke March Toronto Team tried to determine: are these bylaws good enough? If not, what are our options? If we decide to pass sub-par bylaws, how will it affect our communities?
What we are hearing from the folks who attended is: No, these bylaws are not good enough. We are concerned that passing sub-par bylaws will negatively affect trans and queer communities, and limit their abilities to participate in the organization. Fortunately, we are also hearing from Pride that many board members are willing to engage with these issues, so we will continue to seek more opportunities to make changes that will positively affect our communities and facilitate their participation. We appreciated the presence of Pride Toronto board members and their efforts to engage with us. We acknowledge that being critiqued and challenged is not always a comfortable experience. We look forward to continuing our work together and creating positive change.
All members of Pride Toronto have a vote at the AGM on Thursday, October 24. To be a member, you must have volunteered 8 hours or more during the Pride festival. If you are not a member, you are still invited to come to the AGM to share your thoughts on the bylaws, new members, and more.
Pride Toronto Annual General Meeting
Thursday, October 24, 2013
Hart House – Music Room
7 Hart House Circle
6:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
If you have questions or concerns, contact us at:
Facebook: DykeMarch Toronto