MRFA Retreat Community Agreements

The Association is committed to providing this opportunity for members to connect and engage in important dialogues and discussions in a positive and proactive way.  What this means is that we need to consider our own positionality and be thoughtful in our approaches to ensure that we are all able to engage fully in conversations while minimizing harm and supporting each other when needed.  

Community Agreements

As participants at the MRFA Spring Retreat we agree to the following Community Agreements:

  • Recognize and value individual differences.
  • Speak from our own experience and not invalidate others’ experiences.
  • Respect every person’s right to withdraw consent to physical, mental, and/or intellectual interactions.
  • Approach difficult topics with the aim of mutual understanding (not necessarily agreement).
  • Recognize that our intention does not mitigate impact.

Facilitators will be present in each session throughout the retreat to provide support to speakers and attendees in adhering to these Community Agreements. If necessary, individuals may be asked to reframe their comments in alignment with the Agreements. If individuals engage in actions or words that are intentionally or unintentionally aggressive, bullying, or intimidating they may be asked to leave a session.

*due to the number of attendees and sessions at the retreat, these Community Agreements will only be read. Members with comments, questions or feedback related to these community Agreements are welcome to submit them via this form: https://bit.ly/3xNZhcL.*

Expectations of Participants

We need to operate in an environment of safety to fully engage in potentially difficult conversations. The Association has set the following expectations to assist in creating a safer environment. 

Retreat participants are expected to: 

  • Review the Community Agreements,
  • Communicate openly and with respect for differing opinions,
  • Respect every person’s right to consent or to withdraw consent,
  • Support and encourage each other, 
  • Listen actively without interrupting, and
  • Participate to the fullest of our ability.

Supporting Each Other Through Difficult Conversations

Should a participant or moderator perceive that the community agreement has not been observed or a behaviour does not meet expectations, the moderator will draw attention to the situation and may 

  • Offer the participant an opportunity reframe their comments,
  • Provide suggestions on how comments might be reframed, and 
  • Should the participant not take up these opportunities to address the situation, the moderator may ask the participant to leave the session. 

Seeking Support When Needed 

The program does include sessions which may give rise to difficult conversations; wherein, conversations may activate members and ongoing engagement in such conversations may be challenging in various personal, interpersonal, and emotional ways. Depending on your position, preference, and personal approach to these difficult situations, you may seek support at the retreat in the following ways: 

  • Continue to engage, respectfully, in the conversation in accordance with the Community Agreements and Expectations listed above and remind others, where needed, to abide by these same expectations. There will be facilitators in each session to assist in this. 
  • Disengage from the conversation and remove yourself from the space
    • We hope you may feel empowered to do so without concern for impact or perceptions: many of your colleagues in the space with you are allies and will support your decision to leave a space that is harmful to you
  • If you want to remain in the session but seek support or advice from a qualified resource, complete this Member Support Form (https://bit.ly/3xF9Crs). Our onsite support person, Deb Prowse, will be monitoring this form and will respond promptly. 
  • After leaving the space seek out support from our on-site resource. She will be located in the Conference Boardroom just outside the conference lobby. If she is with another member when you try to meet with her, please email her at deborah.prowse@gmail.com to arrange a time. 

On returning to campus, members are reminded of these existing resources to which you may refer for support or advice if you have concerns: 

We appreciate your participation in the annual MRFA Spring Retreat.

We hope that it is a positive experience for all attendees.