Camp Widjiwagan Anti-Racism Commitment
At Camp Widjiwagan, we believe that every young person deserves to have access to the transformative experiences that take place in nature and in the wilderness. We also acknowledge that these experiences are not accessible to all young people. We are committed to continuing to work on increasing accessibility, responsiveness, and accountability to communities currently underrepresented and underserved. Fulfilling Widjiwagan's mission of developing in youth respect for self, others, and the environment demands that we explicitly practice anti-racism in all aspects of Widjiwagan's organizational culture and curriculum.
Racism, systemic oppression, and violence have been harming communities for generations, specifically Black communities, American Indian communities and Tribal Nations, and communities of color. We are living through an uprising and reckoning with racial justice and injustice in the United States. This is the culmination of hundreds of years of systemic racism, settler colonialism and genocide, and occupation of Native land. Camp Widjiwagan is a part of these histories, and we are committed to taking steps to create a more welcoming community at Widjiwagan, which includes dismantling other types of oppression alongside racism and white supremacy, as we know the interconnected nature of gender based oppressions.
We acknowledge that Camp Widjiwagan is located on the homelands of the Lake Superior Bands of Ojibwe people, and within the ceded lands of the Treaty of 1854, where they retained rights to hunt, fish, and gather. We also recognize other Indigenous peoples lived on and utilized this land before the Ojibwe people including the Dakota, Cree, and other Tribal Nations. Our programs take us across the United States and Canada across the lands of many Indigenous and Native communities as well. We recognize their perseverance and survival as they continue to live throughout this region. As part of our commitment to actively decolonize our approach to honoring this land, we are creating relationships with the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa and seek to understand how to continue this work through relationships with them and other Indigenous communities across North America.
Camp Widjiwagan is focused on the journey of youth development and we are currently on a journey of our own growth and accountability. We will continue to evaluate our mission and values to root out white supremacist culture and to uplift alignment, truth-telling, and action to be in solidarity with the Movement for Black Lives and other movements for justice and equity.
The Camp Widjiwagan staff and board commit to putting this work into action. In conjunction with the Y of the North, we are actively developing a comprehensive action plan that focuses on building capacity for more BIPOC representation and support along all areas of Widjiwagan, including board, staff, campers, program and facility. We recognize that this plan will have short-term action items along with longer-term efforts. For transparency and accountability, we are offering this “progress report” on our work and commit to timely updates to the greater Widjiwagan community.
Our overarching commitments with this action plan include:
- Ensure that Widjiwagan is more accessible and inclusive by continuously examining our history and culture (past and present).
- Develop baseline demographic measurements for all constituencies; youth participants, staff, and board.
- Set goals for increasing diversity of constituencies with an emphasis on recruiting BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) representation and participation.
- Actively recruit and support BIPOC individuals and organizations to participate at all levels of Widjiwagan’s program and governance with a goal of equitable outcomes for all.
- Continue to build relationships with American Indian communities in the geographical area near Widjiwagan in order to deepen understanding of how to support those communities, integrate the history of settler colonialism into curriculum, and how to honor the land and history in land acknowledgement
- Continue to work with Tribal Nations to return the totem pole to the indigenous community where it was carved or put it to rest in a culturally appropriate manner
- Continuously provide opportunity for capacity building, learning, and growth of staff and board, including:
- Implement anti-racism training for all full-time staff, seasonal staff, and board members
- Review and update programs and camp culture to ensure all participants feel welcome and included.
- Implement facilitation training and curriculum to address racism, environmental racism, tribal sovereignty and land acknowledgment, and racism within the outdoor communities.
As an organization, we are committed to disrupting our systems and structures that uphold white supremacy culture and settler colonialism. We have seen how transformative wilderness experiences can be, and we must push forward in building and rebuilding a camp culture, policies and practices that reflect this conviction.