Challenging Discrimination Through Community Conversations; Season Two, 2021 – 2022

Challenging Discrimination Through Community Conversations; Season Two, 2021 – 2022

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Initiative Background

“Challenging Discrimination through Community Conversations” is an ongoing series of online moderated roundtables 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. 

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.

In the past year, we have seen an explosion of interest in activism both online and in our community. We responded to the community demand by hosting roundtable sessions on systemic racism and discrimination, initiating a campaign for the elimination of racial discrimination and speaking with community leaders to understand the issues faced by racialized individuals in Alberta. Based on feedback from the participants and the past speakers, we aim to focus on advocacy, community action, and allyship in the 2021-2022 Challenging Discrimination series.

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. Having and sharing these discussions provides one of many ways to challenge discrimination.

This year, we plan to explore topics such as intersectionality, discrimination in the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, the harm of anti-Muslim sentiments, and navigating the human rights legal system.

To check out the first season of our “Challenging Discrimination Through Community Conversations” initiative click here!

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

Upcoming Session:

How is climate change affecting communities in our country and around the globe and what can we do to contribute to climate justice?

Climate change is among the most pressing issues in our lifetime. Join CFRAC and our guest speakers to learn about the connection between climate change and environmental discrimination, the difference between global warming and climate change, and tangible actions we can take at the individual and policy level to help bring environmental justice to our global community.

Past Sessions:

Session 1: One Year On

In the first session of our new roundtable series, we revisited some of the topics from last year’s roundtable series and reflected on what has changed one year later. We were joined by Anita Li, journalist and founder/ editor-in-chief of The Green Line as well as Dr. Bukola Salami, Associate Professor at the Faculty of Nursing, University of Alberta, as we learned about where we stand as a community when it comes to addressing specific social issues that racialized people face in Canada and how can we translate shared knowledge into action in our communities.

Session 2: Intersectionality and Social Inclusion

Recently, we’ve been hearing a lot of discussion about the unique types of oppression faced by individuals with overlapping identities, like race, gender, and class. Intersectionality, a term coined by Kimberle Crenshaw, can be used to describe how overlapping identities intersect to produce different experiences and degrees of oppression.

Sam Singh, Social Innovator and Steward at Shift Lab, and Sogand Zakerhaghighi, Business Owner and Mental Health Healer, joined CFRAC to discuss the importance of intersectionality and how we can use it to address discrimination and to take action in our everyday life.

Session 3: Understanding and Addressing Anti-Muslim Hate in Canada

Are you concerned about the recent rise of Anti-Muslim hate crimes in the Edmonton area? Scholars have pointed out that these incidents are beyond the scope of Islamophobia, and are motivated by hate in our communities. This online roundtable discussion explored the unique struggles faced by Muslim women and the dangers of allowing anti-Muslim hate to go unchallenged. This in-depth discussion with Dr. Farha Shariff, Dr. Muna Saleh, and Arwa Elhag-Idris identified the consequences of anti-Muslim sentiment and how bystanders can safely intervene.

Session 4: Addressing Discrimination in the 2SLGBTQIA+ Community

Are you curious about the diverse experiences of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community in Alberta? Are you interested in learning about inclusive language and why terminology changes in this community? In this roundtable conversation, we discussed the unique barriers faced by the 2SLGBTQIA+ community and how those in the community have continued to evolve the language to describe their experiences.

Guest speakers included Jeffery Chalifoux (Exec. Director, Edmonton 2 Spirit Society, E2S) and Marni Panas (Program Manager, Diversity and Inclusion with Alberta Health Services), with moderator Shalini Sinha (long-time Equity, Diversity and Inclusion consultant and educator) explored how discrimination, stigma, and a lack of social acceptance contribute to the marginalization of 2SLGBTQIA+ folks. We also investigated the role of anti-racism work in the 2SLGBTQIA+ community through an intersectional lens.

Session 5: Responding to Houselessness in our Community

Like many Canadian cities, Edmonton is facing a housing crisis and an opioid epidemic. The high rates of addiction, lack of affordable housing, and the stigma around unhoused individuals continue to contribute to the housing crisis in Alberta. The municipal and provincial governments have yet to adequately tackle the complexity of this issue or offer substantial housing support.

This session was joined by Nadine Chalifoux (An Independent Advocate from the Edmonton community) Susan McGee (CEO, homeward Trust), and the session will be moderated by Bryan Mwaka (Community Engagement Coordinator, The Mustard Seed) to learn about houselessness and community encampments, what we can do as a community to help bring relief to people experiencing homelessness, and what the roles and responsibilities are of organizations and the government to address this multifaceted issue.

Session 6: Ableism, Accessibility, & Advocacy in Our Community

What are the experiences of Canadians with disabilities, and how we can work to eliminate ableism in our society? Nearly 22% of Canadians identify as having a disability, and they are often underrepresented in discussions around inclusion and social justice. We explored the impacts of ableism on vulnerable populations and how we can help create a barrier-free society that is accessible to all. Our speakers Gomathi Boorada and Cynthia Decore join us to speak on this topic. The moderator for this session was Zachary Weeks.

Session 7: Celebrating The Black Community in Alberta for Black History Month

February is Black History Month: join the next session in Challenging Discrimination through Community Conversations to learn about the significance of Black History Month and to celebrate achievements from the Black community in our province. Black Canadians have a long and rich history in Alberta and Canada which has not always been widely known.  Our guest speakers Bashir Mohamed (YEG-Based Writer), Donna Coombs-Montrose (Founding Member & Board of the Alberta Labour History Institute), and Helen Agbonison (Founder and President of the Africans and African Descendants Friendship Club of St. Albert) discussed why antiracism continues to matter in all aspects of our lives to help create understanding and solidarity in our community. The moderator for this session was Mansoureh Modarres.

Session 8: Celebrating Women in Our Community on International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day serves to celebrate women’s achievements as well as to continue to push for gender parity across the world. Funke Olokude (Executive Director at Ribbon Rouge) and Adetoun Abby Aiyeleye (Co-Founder of Clavis Studio) joined us to share their stories as well as discuss important social changes helping to empower women.

Session 9: Anti-Racism Practices in Education

This session discussed anti-racism practices in the education system and how to advocate for inclusive curriculums. The guest speakers included Gail-Ann Wilson (Cultural Diversity Education Consultant for the Edmonton Public School Division) and Dr. Elizabeth Shen (Edmonton Public School Board Specialized Learning Supports Supervisor) with moderator Youssra Badr (Arab Canadian Diversity Consultant). They explored curriculum development, its strengths and weaknesses in Alberta and how we can best support racialized students, teachers, and parents in our educational system.

Session 10: Ageism in Alberta

This virtual roundtable discussed the experiences of older adults in our communities and how we can offer support to older adults facing discrimination. Ageism, often defined as discrimination based on someone’s age, impacts our communities by systemically devaluing the contributions of older adults in society and subsequently contributing to social isolation and poor health among elders. Dr. Sherry Dahlke (Associate Professor, Faculty of Nursing, U of A) and Semsi Develioglu (Creator of Totes By Semsi) joined us to explore this topic. The moderator for this session was Lori Sigurdson (MLA for Edmonton-Riverview).

Session 11: Understanding Racialization and the Canadian Criminal Justice System

What is racialization and how does it come into play in our criminal justice system? This session explored the causes of racialization and its impacts with regard to our criminal justice system. We also uncovered what current research is happening and how we can ensure equity at every stage of the criminal justice system. Guest speakers included Caitlin Dick and Helen Rusich, along with moderator Robert Lee.

Initiative Funders

This initiative is supported by Edmonton Community Foundation.

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