Systemic racism and intersectional oppression disproportionately impact the mental well-being of Black and Indigenous People of Colour (BIPOC) in Canada every single day. We recognize that in mental health, there is a massive disparity in how BIPOC are not only listened to but supported on every level. We have been listening, we have been learning, and the time to address these inequities is now.
We continue to look within our own organization and focus on where we need to make the changes necessary to ensure that our commitment to equality remains at the forefront. This commitment is a process but as a starting point:
Unison is closely reviewing and examining what steps our counselling partner LifeWorks is taking to provide specialized counselling and health services for the BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities
Unison is undergoing changes to our Board of Directors with an internal commitment towards a more diverse, inclusive and accurate representation of our communities
Unison is dedicated to learning, collecting, and sharing resources with our network that supports the mental health and wellness of BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities
As Unison curates panels and discussions within the music community, we are dedicated to amplifying the voices of the BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities and creating a diverse and inclusive safe space at all times
We stand behind our obligation to do the work for justice and equality for BIPOC members of the music community. Not just today or this week but always. We welcome any and all discussions on how we can improve our services. It is our responsibility to be better and do the work for the members of our music community, and we are only just getting started.
Please remember to be safe and take care of your mental health. For support doing these times, please call our toll-free counselling and health solutions hotline: 1-855-9UNISON (1-855-986-4766).
The Unison Fund is the brainchild of Jodie Ferneyhough and Catharine Saxberg, both of whom have been touched by the loss and illness of friends within the music community. Catharine had seen that similar relief programs existed in other sectors, and decided it was time to unite the music industry: to create a process by which we can help each other.
“The idea of Unison started shortly after a tragic accident to a well-known musician. It occurred to me that although benefit concerts and fundraisers, in the short-term, were a great thing and brought the community together, there was no organized support system in the music business for people when they fell on hard times. Musicians, roadies, riggers, sound technicians, managers, indie publishers, labels and a myriad of others, might not have access to money if there was ever an emergency… We felt it was time for the industry to have a way of taking care of itself.” – Ferneyhough
Catharine and Jodie began speaking to their friends and colleagues and quickly found unanimous support for the idea – and the Unison Benevolent Fund was born. The Board of Directors was formed in 2010 and reflects a cross-section of the Canadian music industry itself.
“The creation of an emergency fund was our first priority,” Catharine Saxberg explains “as we’re mostly self-employed, it’s often more difficult for us to secure bank loans, or other types of emergency financing when we need it. Our long-term goal is to provide access to additional assistance programs and insurance options. We’d like to use our strength in numbers.”
In July 2011, The Unison Fund received initial commitments of $250,000 from Music Canada and Slaight Music, followed by a $100,000 commitment from a collective of music publishers in 2012. On October 24, 2011, Sheila Hamilton was appointed executive director.