Late last month I chaired the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centers (BCAAFC) “virtual” Annual General Meeting. It was a pleasure to work with the BCAAFC again this year as I think they are a great organization doing amazing, essential work. With approximately 85% of Indigenous people in BC living off-reserve, Friendship Centers are places of gathering and refuge in often hostile urban environments. With 25 Friendship Centers across BC, they are the only province-wide Indigenous network serving the urban Indigenous population. This gives the BCAAFC unique insight to the needs, challenges, and aspirations of urban Indigenous people.
All of this is on the agenda when the BCAAFC meets every year.This time around, however, the usual format had to be changed due to Covid-19.Instead of gathering in one place there were over 50 participants across the province using Zoom.Chairing large meetings in-person is always a dynamic experience.Moving these meetings on-line is a different experience.Often the feedback loop from participants to the chair is less responsive than in a normal meeting.So I find things in general have to slow down.Decisions take a bit longer, there are often more periods of uncomfortable silence, and it is always necessary to verbalize what is happening and where the meeting is going next.It’s not as fun as in-person, but we got through all of the business: including electing new directors to the board.My sense is that people generally have patience given our pandemic reality, but that everyone will welcome the energy, fun, and collaboration that happens when we can meet together in person.Stay safe everyone!