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On Friday, August 13th, 2021, Francisco Rico-Martinez passed away.

In this post, we would like to share what Francisco meant to us in his role as a Board Member and the impact he had on us in the short while we got a chance to meet him.

In 2020, when we began the search for new board members, Francisco came highly recommended by one of our board members and we were delighted to have Francisco apply.

In the application process, we ask that applicants share their vision of Canada 50 years from now.

Francisco shared with us that this exercise had him thinking back to when he first arrived in Canada as a refugee from El Salvador in the early 90’s. Francisco was a storyteller, he shared with us where he was at when he first arrived, the vision he had for his new home, and what he was hoping for. He said it wasn’t specifically about Canada, but just anywhere new. He knew his vision was optimistic and utopian, as he shared, I thought perhaps that’s what Francisco needed to be able to muster up the courage to relocate his young family.

At the DIA, the work we do has always been rooted in storytelling and Francisco understood that. He told us about how each day he heard hundreds of stories that would break your heart and uplift you at the same time. 

Here is the vision Francisco shared with us:

“I imagine Canada as a rainbow made of all colours of humanity living together, where left and right will referrer to the arms of a human being and not too destructive ideologies. Where breathing and drinking water is not risky… where nature will not be counting the years left for extinction… I see Canada as the place where a smiling and loved child will be the inspiration of our system… where every person’s work will be it is own and what mother earth produce will be picked up by equal hands and share free as common goods… where education and the determinants of health would be the basis for the public budget and resources for enforcement won’t be needed any longer… I see Canada as a place where the utopia will be found as a daily reality, every evening, resting beside the sundown… where no one will be considered stubborn because this world wants to make it fair… the above is how I see Canada in five decades, even if now, it is just a utopia… I am just a dreamer that since that time of arrival, keep looking for soul mates to make it possible.”

I am holding on to this vision while I grieve the loss of Francisco. We will be honouring Francisco’s vision of the future in our upcoming strategic plan and building it into our guiding direction, the one he carried with him from El Salvador to Canada, the one he had in the 90’s and the one we, as a country are still working towards.

If you have messages to share with Francisco’s family, they can be shared here:

Jenn found herself in the nonprofit sector 15 years and has spent her professional and personal life since then guiding conversations through questions and yearning for imagination. Jenn identifies as second-generation Chinese-Canadian, a Mama to two kiddos, a passionately struggling idealist, a recovering perfectionist (aka Super Virgo) and navigating pandemic-induced anxiety. Jenn exists professionally as a designer, researcher and facilitator. In her (limited) spare time, she can be found crafting, eating junk food, cuddling with kiddos and floating in water.

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