I returned to my role after maternity leave as Executive Director at MARL in April 2020 - a time of peak uncertainty in the pandemic. At the time, no one knew if all the monumental changes underway would last weeks or months, but many of us knew the pandemic would test the limits of crisis planning. By now, many non-profits and those who run them have run exhausted, burned out; but as vaccine shipments land on Manitoba tarmacs, we can finally see hope again.
My 2020 goals for MARL were nothing short of survival, stability, and sustainability. Many of us have heard the words ‘adapt,’ and ‘pivot’ so many times they’ve lost meaning. With the help of local grant funders such as the Winnipeg Foundation, United Way of Winnipeg, and the Manitoba Law Foundation, we were able to reimagine the way we facilitate human rights education without classrooms. While at times that looked like youth workshops over video conferencing, it was also the development of self-guided workbooks for students with limited access to reliable technology, and community anti-racism workshops in public parks in partnership with Immigration Partnership Winnipeg. We also continued our Ethics Cafe events virtually and were invigorated by young Manitobans keen to ask big questions.
My hope for 2021 is to hold on to the momentum we found in innovation. Human rights education is as important now than ever as many of us grapple with the causes and effects of social, economic, and political injustices in our new normal. I am especially grateful to our community partners, volunteers, and a small team of staff. MARL is an organization founded on values of optimism in addressing systemic inequalities. In many ways, this year was no different.