A word from FGM, August 2022 (part two)

Read the first part of this post, “Cross-border philanthropy; it’s big money

In 2016, of a population of more than 34 million people, Canada was home to more than 14 million first- or second-generation immigrants[1]. Among them, more than three million had settled in this country since the year 2000. Many of them belong to racialized communities. In Quebec and in the Greater Montreal area, which continues to take in the vast majority of new arrivals, there are close to 2 million such immigrants, including about 500 000 who settled here over the last 20 years or so.

That is a substantial number of people. Among them are creators of wealth, agents of change, entrepreneurs and philanthropists, though they may not think of themselves as such. They are individuals who have a desire to give back, to contribute, both to their community of origin and their host society. But they often do not know how to do so, or don’t feel any connection with the philanthropic institutions that are traditionally the vehicles for giving.

In contrast to the more well-established European immigrant groups – for instance the Jewish, Greek, Irish or Italian communities – that have over time built several well-known organizations that combine the promotion of their identities with the development of their local communities, these individuals are often termed “visible minorities” or persons who come from “racialized communities”. This is a reflection of the great diversity of origins within their groups.

An approach that needs updating

But such labels can also often trigger various types of prejudice, regarding for instance these individuals’ capacity to integrate, their economic standing or their supposed lack of participation in civic affairs. And sometimes these communities are simply ignored. In an era where we are actively discussing equity, diversity and inclusion, would it not be a good time to look more closely at, and bring into play, what these individuals have to offer? If we fail to do so, society as a whole will lose out.

The money is there. The culture of giving, and the desire to contribute, are there too. The spaces and mechanisms for collective action that would make this all possible are emerging, if with some challenges, here and elsewhere. So, what are we missing in order to unlock all this potential, and have it make a difference? An attitude and a discourse that would engage and recognize the value of the contributions of all our communities, beyond the clichés. As the rest of society must do, philanthropy must become a reflection of the diverse communities it aspires to serve. The “cultural communities”, regardless of their origins and of the length of time they have been established here, all have the capacity to act, and a contribution to make, in developing and strengthening our society. Now is the time to recognize that, to start listening and to reach out.

Linda Tchombé
Director of Philanthropic Development
Foundation of Greater Montreal

[1] According to Statistics Canada’s definition, first-generation immigrants are born outside of Canada, and second-generation immigrants have at least one parent who was born outside the country. The data presented here is from the 2016 census.