Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

In the Fall 2020, the OFO Board made a commitment to increase Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) efforts within OFO and its activities. We recognize that this is an ongoing and long-term commitment.

OFO’s Commitment to EDI:

  • OFO welcomes all people with an interest in birds to join our organization and enjoy birds with us.
  • OFO aims to promote a safe and welcoming environment where our differences are acknowledged and celebrated.
  • OFO aspires to be an organization free of all forms of discrimination, in which the dignity of all participants is respected.
  • OFO will work to identify and remove organizational barriers which limit the diversity of our membership and participation by under-represented communities.

EDI Committee

OFO’s EDI Committee reports to the Board and recommend steps to foster EDI within OFO and its activities.

Members of the committee represent diverse perspectives from the nature, birding, and social justice communities. They represent a wide range of ages and have varying levels of birding and EDI experience.

If you are interested in joining the committee, please email diversity@ofo.ca.

Statement on Safety in the Ontario Birding Community (2023)

OFO is a community of diverse individuals, who all have the right to be free of fear, discrimination, harassment, threats, and violence while birding. Sadly, recent reports and the surrounding discussion about sexual and gender-based harassment and assaults occurring within the birding community reflect that many individuals, particularly individuals who identify as Queer and/or Trans, women, people with disabilities, new Canadians, and People of Colour, are not always safe in outdoor spaces. It is important to take this opportunity to reaffirm everybody’s right to be safe in the Ontario birding community. As an inclusive organisation, OFO stands in solidarity with those who are working towards making birding a safer space for all.

What Birders Can Do

OFO unequivocally supports all survivors of discrimination, violence and harassment. As a community, we all must do more to support survivors and hold our colleagues accountable for their actions; OFO calls on all Ontario birders to do their part. OFO believes that the birding community should not tolerate any form of discrimination, violence or harassment, including that of a sexual or gendered nature. We also encourage those who have not experienced gendered harassment, or are recently learning about this issue, to learn more about it and what forms it can take so that they may better support their peers. If someone you know is being harassed or experiencing discrimination, you can take initiative and ask the perpetrator to stop. You can also notify a person in authority and/or if the incident occurs during an OFO event, please notify the OFO Board.  More information about matters of harassment and discrimination can be found on the Ontario Human Rights Commission website. (https://www.ohrc.on.ca/en/sexual-and-gender-based-harassment-know-your-rights-brochure)

What OFO is Doing

The following is a list of OFO actions to combat discrimination, harassment and violence.

One of the main reasons that OFO in 2020 formed an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee, was to work toward a birding environment that is not only welcoming but also safe for all. One of the Committee’s first actions was to develop a Code of Conduct. This is a living document that is modified as needed.

As a result of feedback from the birding community and input from the EDI Committee, OFO’s Board has had extensive discussions and is planning the following actions in the coming weeks and months:

  • OFO’s Code of Ethics will be updated by November, a long overdue project. A key element is to encourage respectful behaviour among birders at all times, and not just during OFO-related activities.
  • We are organising a panel discussion in the coming months centred around the experiences of birders who’ve experienced discrimination, harassment, and/or violence in the field. This will provide an opportunity for the wider birding community to learn about these experiences.
  • Sessions will be organised for OFO trip leaders to discuss and share best practices and to raise awareness about safety issues including harassment and discrimination.

Please stay tuned for further announcements. As always, if you have any thoughts, ideas or questions, please write to us at president@ofo.ca or diversity@ofo.ca.

Statement on EDI

A) OFO Recognizes That:

  • Discrimination exists in our society in many forms. As set out in Ontario’s Human Rights Code, discrimination may be related to race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, marital status, family status or disability.
  • Barriers make it difficult for some people to enjoy nature and participate in OFO field trips and other activities.

B) OFO Strongly Believes That:

  • There is no place for discrimination in society or in the birding community at large.
  • Birders should feel safe and comfortable belonging to, and participating in, birding organizations and associated events.
  • OFO has a responsibility to be a safe, inclusive, equitable and accessible organization.
  • Identifying and removing barriers to participation in OFO’s activities, to the best of our capacity, will facilitate ongoing diversification of the membership.
  • The benefits of diversifying our membership include greater support for conservation through education, stewardship, a shared joy in nature and a broader base for community science.

C) OFO’s Commitment to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion:

  • OFO welcomes all people with an interest in birds to join our organization and enjoy birds with us.
  • OFO aims to promote a safe and welcoming environment where our differences are acknowledged and celebrated.
  • OFO aspires to be an organization free of all forms of discrimination, in which the dignity of all participants is respected.
  • OFO will work to identify and remove organizational barriers which limit the diversity of our membership and participation by under-represented communities.

D) OFO’s Actions

To actively foster and increase the diversity of our membership and enhance inclusion and equity:

  • We have designated a Director to be responsible for OFO’s EDI initiatives.
  • We have created an EDI Committee, reporting to the Board, to help guide these initiatives. This Committee includes and consults with birders from communities currently under-represented within OFO.
  • We have strengthened our mission statement by committing to EDI.
  • We are implementing actions, based on recommendations from the EDI Committee, that lead to greater equity, diversity and inclusion at all levels of our organization including the leadership and other volunteers, as well as the membership at large.
  • We are identifying and working to remove barriers to participation in our events which limit diversity.

E) What Can You Do?

  • All members have a role to play in ensuring that our organization is welcoming, inclusive and accessible to a wide audience. We encourage OFO members to engage with other participants at OFO trips or events.

Please email diversity@ofo.ca if you have any thoughts and ideas you would like to share with the Board and EDI Committee or if you would like to join the EDI Committee.


[WP]

Evening Grosbeak
Female
Photo: Saul Bocian

Black Scoter
Photo: Barry Cherriere

Lesser Scaup
Female in front
Photo: Carol Horner

Grasshopper Sparrow
Photo: Janet Forjan

Common Redpoll
Photo: John Millman

Herring Gull
1st Basic
Photo: Daniel Cadieux

Sanderling
Juvenile
Photo: Carol Horner

Golden-winged Warbler
Photo: Tim King

Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Photo: Sam Barone