Diversity & Inclusion Series Part 1 – Social Justice

“You plant the seed, you may not see the bloom, but you helped plant that seed for their future.” – Laverne

Laverne has been an essential part of Quint since it was created. She is a founding board member of Quint, and one of the reasons the organization has the pulse and impact it does today.

As a lifelong resident of Pleasant Hill and many years of community organizing in the core neighbourhoods,  Laverne’s leadership was an instrumental part of the vision that led to the formation of Quint. As a member of the founding Board, Laverne helped ensure that the foundation of Quint was solid with a clear strategic plan and policies that have shaped the organization as it developed in the early years.

During Black History Month, Quint participated by observing, listening, and sharing with the intention to reflect on how as an organization we can amplify voices of the BIPOC community throughout the entire year, and not just in February.

To honour our commitment, we are starting by amplifying BIPOC voices of Quint staff who have personally chosen topics to share about with the greater community.

Dominic, a staff member with Quint’s Male Youth Lodge shares about why social justice is important to him as a person of colour. Dominic’s words provide a deeper understanding of the social injustices faced by the BIPOC community and it is something we take seriously as an organization as we work towards being the best ally that we can be.

Why is social justice so important to you?

“Social justice is very important to me as a person of color, a social worker and a frontline staff in human/social services. The reason being that as a person of color living in Canada, I found myself affected by the same structural injustices that affect the persons of color in general in Canada and in Saskatoon.

Social justice helped me to understand the history and prevalence of oppression, institutionalized injustice and systemic racism against the Indigenous and the colored persons. I belong to a group that is characterized as a visible minority, but my experience as a conscious black person is that oftentimes we are treated as people who are invisible to this society. This presents a lot of struggles to many black individuals and families, who do not know how to interact with this society that is our home. Evidence of this could be seen from the point of view of low community engagement and participation of black people in Saskatoon.

Another example could be the limited opportunities available to black people within the community-based organizations, business organizations and the public services. The consequences of this is that the black people in Saskatoon will continue to live as outcasts in their apartments and houses, and miss out on being active members of this society.

Saskatoon is blessed with many learned black professionals who serve as medical doctors, pharmacists, nurses, engineers, computer and IT experts, social and human services workers, just to mention a few. Beyond their professional expertise and personal contributions, the black people in Saskatoon should be seen as bona-fide members of this community, and they should have a voice in the community. 

We are at the bottom of the caste. We do not have strong voices of our own, nor allies speaking for us in decision making tables.  This is where it is important that an organization like Quint would lend its strong voice to the struggles of black people in Saskatoon. And I want to commend the management of  the Quint Development for giving me and other black staff members, the opportunity to represent our community at Quint. This speaks deeply to the reputation and integrity of Quint Development. 

For its size, Quint Development especially the Youth Lodge and the Pleasant Hill Place have a strong presence of black staff when compared to bigger organizations in Saskatoon. And we appreciate the excellent supports that we receive from our managers and co-workers, which have been very amazing.”

As the organization continued to grow, Laverne’s position evolved into the  Director of Operations but she continued to oversee and guide the affordable housing program. She is also one of our main social function organizers ensuring that we maintain a strong and cohesive staff team/family, something that she prides herself on. She has worked hard to make sure staff feel included, heard and part of the decision making process within the organization.

Laverne also played a large role in organizing Quint’s community events, what she calls “the fun work”. This included launching and planning the annual Our Core Communities Shine events, numerous community BBQ’s, and anniversary celebrations.

Laverne’s impact is throughout all aspects of Quint’s programming and practices. Her legacy will be that of dedication, compassion, and perseverance, always fighting for the good of her community and the people in it. On behalf of the Quint staff, board of directors and the community at large, Laverne we are so thankful for your leadership and vision to bring Quint to reality. Your contributions will continue to transcend the 26 years you have committed to our west side core communities and beyond.

Happy Retirement!