Challenging Discrimination through Community Conversations

Initiative Background

“Challenging Discrimination through Community Conversations” is an ongoing series of online moderated round-tables with guest speakers from diverse communities, organizations, academia and the general public, which seeks to understand and address experiences of discrimination and exclusion in the Canadian context. By shining the spotlight on different forms of discrimination, such as anti-Black racism, anti-Indigenous racism, and discrimination against Asian Communities among other topics, we hope to encourage solidarity among groups and individuals interested in promoting social inclusion and equity. 

Each conversation focuses on a major theme with respect to the lived experiences and realities of specific communities. We aim to highlight the very specific challenges of different communities, explore the overarching issues, and discuss strategies for education, intervention and ally-ship. 

Through engagement with guest speakers, we are hoping to create a space of learning where we practice compassion, active listening, respect and humility.

This is a community-based initiative which encourages everyone to share their ideas for topics, questions, and suggestions. Please share your thoughts with Mansoureh ( and Myriam ( We’re looking forward to hearing from you!

Session 1: Anti-Black Racism in Canada Thursday, June 18th, 2020// 12:00-1:00 pm (MT)

Racism is a reality in Canada, and recent demonstrations across the country raise the importance of addressing racial inequalities that affect the lives of Black, Indigenous and other racialized communities. We hosted a conversation moderated by Aurelia Uarsama with our guest speakers Jeanne Lehman, the Executive Director of Black Canadian Women in Action, Sharif Haji, the Executive Director of Africa Centre, and Brandon Wint, performance poet and public educator. You can watch the recording of that round-table here:

Session 2: Systemic and Institutional Racism in Canada Wednesday, July 15th, 2020// 12:00-1:30 pm (MT)

Join our online round-table on systemic and institutional racism in conversation with our guest speakers Noelle Jaipaul, Multicultural Liaison with the city of Edmonton, Monetta Bailey, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Ambrose University, and Philomina Okeke-Iherjirika, Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at University of Alberta. Aurelia Uarsama will be moderating the session. You can watch the recording of that round-table here:

Session 3: The Media and Racism Tuesday, August 18th, 2020 // 1:30-2:30pm (MST)

Join our online round-table on the media and racism in conversation with our guest speakers Anita Li, co-founder of Canadian Journalists of Colour, Oumar Salifou, previous Editor-in-Chief of The Gateway, Kalyani Thurairajah, Associate Professer of Sociology at Grant MacEwan University and CBC journalist Kyle Muzyka. Gurvinder Bhatia will be moderating the session.

Session 4: Experiences of Racism and Discrimination Among Black Communities in Alberta Wednesday, August 26th, 2020 // 1:oo-2:15pm (MST)

Join our online round-table on the experiences of racism and discrimination among Black communities in Alberta with our guest speakers Bukola Salami, Associate Professor at the Faculty of Nursing at the University of Alberta, Temitope Oriola, Associate Professor at the University of Alberta and recipient of the Governor General of Canada Academic Gold Medal, and Tigist Dafla, settlement counselor and outreach worker.


Session 5: Exploring the Impacts of the Pandemic on Immigrant Communities

Wednesday, September 9th, 2020// 1:00-2:30 pm (MT)

Join our online round-table event presented in collaboration with the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society on the impact of COVID-19 on immigrants in Alberta. We will be in conversation with our guest speakers Ricardo Morales, Director of Community Development and Integration Services & Southern Alberta Rural Initiatives, Sinela Jurkova, Diversity Services Coordinator at Calgary Catholic Immigration Society, and Jingzhou Liu, researcher and journalist.

Session 6: Enhancing African Canadian Capacity to Advance Human Rights and Equality

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2020// 1:00-2:30 pm (MT)

In the past three years, Africa Centre has undertaken circles of conversation on racisms and race relations across the province. The project included facilitating community dialogues to create a platform that enables healthy conversations about racism and experiences of discrimination. Series of Community dialogues were convened in Calgary, Edmonton, and Fort MacMurray, and the intent of these series were to create awareness raising both among the black communities and the mainstream at large. Africa Centre and CFRAC have partnered in this roundtable to inform the public about race relations and present some of the community experiences that have been collected throughout this project.

Join our online round-table as we discuss the results of this project with our guest speakers Dunia Nur, President of the African Canadian Civic Engagement Council, Susan Cambridge, CEO of CAS Events Consultancy Ltd., and Sharif Haji, Executive Director of the Africa Centre. Mansoureh Modarres will be moderating the session.

Session 7: The Effects of COVID-19 on Visible Minority Groups in Canada

In this session, we will investigate issues that have been affecting the lives of community groups in Canada. Join our online round-table even where we will be in conversation with guest speakers Lynn Barr-Telford, Assistant Chief Statistician of the Social, Health and Labour Statistics Field at Statistics Canada and Cheryl Whiskeyjack, the Director of Bent Arrow Healing Society. This conversation will investigate the social and economic effects of COVID-19 on different ethnocultural communities in Canada. The following topics will be discussed:

  • High poverty rates pre-COVID-19 among most visible minority groups made them vulnerable to the financial impact of the economic shutdown.
  • Among those employed prior to the shutdown, white people and most visible minority groups reported similar rates of job loss or reduced work hours; however, the rates were higher among Filipinos and West Asians.
  • The pandemic generally had a stronger impact on visible minority participants’ ability to meet financial obligations or essential needs than white participants. This held true even when differences in job loss, immigrant status, education and other socio-demographic characteristics were accounted for.

Session 8: Systemic Racism and Indigenous Communities in Alberta

In this roundtable as part of our Challenging Discrimination through Community Conversation series, we will discuss specific challenges and discriminations Indigenous communities face in Alberta. Our panelists, Lana Whiskeyjack (Assistant Professor, University of Alberta), Bernadette Ihatail (Executive Director, Creating Hope Society) and Jodi Stonehouse (Executive Director, Yellowhead Indigenous Education Foundation) will speak to the issues of colonial and post-colonial history and identity politics in Alberta, Indigenous communities’ sense of belonging and experiences of discrimination, as well as access to resources. In this session, we will also look at different ways to identify and challenge discriminatory attitudes and behaviours in our practices.

Session 9: Anti-racism and Acts of Solidarity-Part 1

In these upcoming sessions of the roundtable series, we will engage in a conversation with our speakers on what it means to be allies and how we can find ways to take part in acts of solidarity with racialized groups in our community. On the first session (12 November), we hosted Mohammed Hashim (Executive Director, Canadian Race Relations Foundation) and Sam Singh (Social innovator, Shift Lab) and Cam Stewart (Human Rights Commissioner).

Session 10: Anti-racism and Acts of Solidarity-Part 2

On the second session (25 November), we will join a conversation with Samya Hassan (Executive Director, Council of Agencies Serving South Asians), Sarosh Rizvi (Executive Director, Alberta Association of Immigrant Serving Agencies), Debbie Owusu-Akyeeah (Executive Director, Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity), and Parker Johnson(Founder, This is Table Talk).

Initiative Funders