Canopy Children's Solutions is a non-profit that reaches each of Mississippi’s 82 counties providing children with life-changing solutions for autism, behavioral and mental health issues, adoption and foster care, and more. Canopy CEO John Damon and board president Dorian Turner, release the following statement:
We can’t adequately articulate all the emotions engendered by what we’ve previously witnessed and what we continue to see in our communities and around the country. We are, at times, enraged, and at other times numb. We are depressed and exhausted, but then engaged and hopeful. We want to isolate ourselves and shelter in our own microcosm to wrap ourselves in the safety and familiarity that comes from being with family and trusted friends. But we’re also motivated and inspired to step out and speak up to ensure that, this time, things will be different. We know that many of you share those same feelings. The murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and countless others, known and unknown, have surfaced deep trauma in each of our hearts and across our nation, as we once again see the disconnect between justice and the inherent truth that all people are created equal.
African Americans and other people of color have been unequally subjected to police brutality. Racism is real. It infuses our society and our institutions. So, too, is the generational trauma that flows from decades of injustice, inequity and discrimination. Throughout the recent weeks, countless people across all backgrounds and races have stood together in the face of inequality to be seen and heard. We can do better. We must do better. We are compelled to move forward through empathy and action because that is what this moment demands of all of us. We can no longer be complacent. We can no longer just try to be a good person. We must take a stand and we must remain resolute in our commitment to lean into our differences as we confront injustice and inequality.
As Dr. King said in his letter from a Birmingham jail, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Honoring this vision requires deep, systemic change in our criminal justice system, in our educational institutions, and in our healthcare system, among others, and an enduring commitment to courageously engage in ongoing dialogue across all levels of society. Perhaps the inverse of Dr. King’s declaration is also true - that “justice somewhere creates a path to fight injustice everywhere.” That is our prayer for Canopy. We want to create a guiding beacon that shows the world how to establish an office, an organization, a community, and relationships where people thrive and are valued, are supported and treated equally; where injustice is something we only read about in history books. We want to be a place that values diversity in all of its forms and honors every unique and precious voice.
We are thankful for the significant work of our Diversity and Inclusion Council. While we have made great progress over the years under the direction of our Chief Engagement and Diversity Officer, we will move forward with greater intensity and resolve. We also commit to a trauma-informed approach as we take our next steps of bias education and discussion. As care providers, overlaying a trauma-informed approach to the hard work of bias and reconciliation will provide much needed empathy and understanding around the thoughts, feelings and actions we are all experiencing.
Confronting the brutal facts that led to the scenes unfolding on the news cycle will require courage, honest dialogue, and a resolute commitment from every one of us to risk connection. The Board and leadership of Canopy will be engaged in this critical work, not only to create a culture where all of our Canopy family can thrive, but also so we can each be our very best as we continue to bring hope and healing to thousands of kids and families across all 82 counties of our state.
We won’t always say the right thing. We won’t always do it the right way. We will make mistakes, but we are engaged; we are committed and we are in this for the long term. Please know the Canopy leadership will be there to walk this important journey of healing together. We ask that you join us as we approach these next steps with a commitment to love, empathy and equity, and with a mission to be the change we expect to see in the world.
Dorian E. Turner,
John D. Damon, Ph.D
Chief Executive Officer