Anti-Racism & Accountability


On June 17, 2020, Sled Island made the following public statement in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and the social reckoning that ensued. These events made us pause and reflect on where our organization was at regarding equity and anti-racism and prompted internal conversations and reflection on the way forward.

Around the same time, Sled Island was due for a new round of strategic planning, and our reflections led us to want to try something different – move away from an internally-focused, traditional approach and experiment instead with a new process centering the voices and experiences of Black, Indigenous and racialized communities.

This timeline aims to hold us accountable to that June 17 statement and to be transparent on our journey navigating these new ways of thinking and doing, with the goal of making Sled Island a festival that all communities can feel ownership over and be reflected in.

August 5, 2020 - First meeting with Jordan Baylon, Equity Consultant, to discuss Sled Island strategic planning and anti-racism work.

Our Executive Director and Board Chair decided to approach Jordan Baylon to support us in undertaking this work, given their familiarity with the festival through their work at Calgary Arts Development for 10 years, and their combination of knowledge and experience in the realm of strategic planning and Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. They also knew of Jordan’s interest in exploring emergent strategies and new processes and how they could be applied to the nonprofit sector, which made them an excellent candidate.

Aug 10, 2020 - Decolonization Workshop with Gitz Crazyboy (attended by Executive Director).

Sep 2020 - Development of a project in partnership with the Sankofa Foundation of Canada - a local non-profit organization dedicated to educating and empowering vulnerable youth to become agents of change in their communities - consisting in the creation and delivery of an anti-Black racism training workshop tailored to the arts community. 

Funding application for the project submitted by Sankofa to the City of Calgary Anti-Racism Capacity Building Fund.

Sled Island’s role in the project is one of administrative support and connector between Sankofa and the broader arts community.

Sep - Nov, 2020 - Development of a strategic planning pitch centering the voices and experiences of Indigenous, Black and racialized communities, to be presented to our board of directors. Document created in collaboration between Jordan Baylon, Maud Salvi (Executive Director) and Arif Ansari (Board Chair).

Nov 2020 - Notification of funding approval received by Sankofa for the project referenced above. Workshop development and project coordination take place over the following months.

Nov 25, 2020 - Understanding and Addressing Unconscious Bias workshop, presented by the Centre for Race and Culture (attended by Executive Director).

Dec 8, 2020 - Presentation of the pitch and approval of the plan by the board.

Jan 24, 2021 - Strategic planning retreat with the board of directors and core staff, facilitated by Jordan Baylon.

Feb 25, 2021 - Respectful Workplaces in the Arts workshop, presented by the Cultural Human Resources Council (attended by Executive Director).

March 27, 2021 -  Inaugural Anti-Black Racism Training workshop delivered by Sankofa for Sled Island’s core staff and board of directors.

March 30, 2021 - Tools for Anti-Racist Organizational Change workshop, presented by Community Wise Resource Centre (attended by Festival Manager and Executive Director).

April 17, 2021 - Second Anti-Black Racism Training Workshop delivered for Femme Wave and Stride Gallery.

May 11, 26 & June 10 - Meetings with Jordan Baylon and members of the board to prepare for the next stage of our strategic planning process: identifying, hiring and working with community brokers. 

Community brokers are individuals whose role is to help Sled Island with the process of reimagining the way it engages with the community and plans its future through anti-racism and equity, diversity and inclusion. The only way this goal is achievable is by starting with relationships that prioritize the perspectives of Indigenous, Black and Racialized artists and communities who have been historically left out of conversations about how we create and share culture. 

Community brokers were selected by the board based on the following criteria:

  • They are community-validated and hold the trust of the communities they are a part of, and are consistently involved in the events, activities and initiatives organized by Racialized communities in Mohkinstsis (Calgary)
  • They have experience applying a critical anti-racist and equity lense to their work with communities
  • They have an understanding of artistic practice, especially around music and/or Sled Island (concerts, festival, events)

June 17, 2021 - URL Anti-O Workshop - Anti-oppression and Anti-racism 101 (attended by core staff). 

The URL: UnRealLife initiative is a grassroots shared accountability working group created by musicians Nick Dourado, Katie Lee and Simone Schmidt, and made up of Canadian musicians and music industry workers from around the country. It is meant to inspire critical thought, invention, accountability and real transformation through discussion, self-reflection, learning and unlearning of the ways White Supremacy manifests in the music industry and upholds racial segregation, land theft and cultural erasure.

July 8, 2021 - URL Anti-O Workshop - Race and Power in Canadian Music (attended by core staff).

July 14, 2021 - Hiring of Toyin Oladele as community broker. Toyin is the Executive Director of the Immigrant Council for Arts Innovation, works as a consultant in the area of Equity, Diversity and is a practicing artist and curator.

July 15, 2021 - Hiring of Dooshima Jev as community broker. Dooshima is the CEO of Afros In Tha City - an online platform dedicated to amplifying Black voices in Mohkínstsis/Calgary - a community organizer and a musician/DJ.

July 29, 2021 - URL Anti-O Workshop - Tools and Commitments for Change (attended by core staff). 

August 2021 - Begin work with the community brokers.

October 16, 2021 - Meeting between members of the Sled Island board & Executive Director, and artists invited by our community broker Toyin Oladele, to listen and learn about their experience as immigrant artists newcomers to the city.

October 29, 2021 - Meeting between members of the Sled Island board & staff, and artists invited by our community broker Dooshima Jev, to listen and learn about their experience as Black artists both living in the city and who have left the city.

October (throughout the month) - Internal review of our hiring process and work on incorporating best practices for equitable hiring based on readings and resources available online. Working on reviewing our job posts to make them as accessible and appealing as possible to diverse candidates, adopting a standardized interview process to mitigate bias, and distributing our job offers through more non-traditional networks.

Internal review of our artist application process through an equity lens. We plan on working with various community partners from equity-deserving communities to develop alternate application methods specific to the needs of each community.

November 16, 2021 - Hiring of Carlin Blackrabbit as community broker. Carlin is a member of Council for the Siksika Nation, a local musician with his band No More Moments, and the organizer of Moments Fest.

January 24, 2022 - Meeting between members of the Sled Island board & staff, and artists invited by our community broker Carlin Blackrabbit, to listen and learn about their experience as Indigenous artists living in Treaty 7.

Mar 30, 2022 - Funding application submitted with Calgary Arts Development to raise funds to support two special editions of the Sled Island Rock Lotto, to be used as a tool to help newcomer artists and BIPOC artists who have faced barriers in connecting with the existing music ecosystem, network and create relationships with musicians already embedded in the scene.

May 3, 2022 - Meeting with the Sled Island board of directors and staff and Jordan Baylon, who presented a report of the work undertaken under their guidance (community engagement through community brokers). Discussion on takeaways and next steps.

July 21, 2022 - Notification that the funding for the two special editions of the Rock Lotto has been approved by Calgary Arts Development.

August 13, 2022 - Sled Island annual strategic planning retreat with board and staff. Work on reviewing the mission and vision of the organization to formalize our commitment to values of anti-racism, inclusion, and accessibility. 

Oct 2022-Jun 2023 – June 2023 Collaboration with Carlin Blackrabbit of Moments Fest in Siksika to present a Moments Fest showcase at Sled Island 2023 on National Indigenous Peoples Day. The goal of the event was to showcase Indigenous musicians from various parts working in the punk and metal music genres, as they tend to be particularly under-represented.

Carlin curated the showcase and Sled Island provided financial and logistical resources to make the showcase happen.

The event took place at the Ship & Anchor on June 21 and featured 1876 from Portland, Indian Giver from Toronto, Soggy Moccasins from Morley, AB, and No More Moments from the Siksika Nation.

June 21, 2023 – Moments Fest showcase at the Ship & Anchor during Sled Island 2023.

Nov 18, 2023 - First of two special editions of the Sled Island Rock Lotto at the Palomino, used as an outreach tool.