The impact of discrimination was front and centre at the second annual CommUnity: The Power of One event held Saturday to recognize the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
Fred Bauer, Central Alberta Refugee Effort (CARE) executive director, said unfortunately racism seems to be getting worse around the world making it important to hold such events.
“Even here in Red Deer, as CARE, we think we need to do something before it becomes serious,” Bauer said at the event held at Golden Circle Senior Resource Centre.
He said CARE receives nasty phone calls and e-mails questioning why refugees are allowed to come to Canada.
“That’s shocking in a country like Canada. They’re not stealing our jobs, and they’re not making us poor, and they’re all contributing a lot.”
About 90 people attended CommUnity co-hosted by CARE, Central Alberta Immigrant Women’s Association, Red Deer Native Friendship Society and sponsored in part by Heuer Design.
Discussion focused on encouraging, inspiring and motivating people to be proactive, welcoming and inclusive.
“I’m really happy that these kinds of events are organized and so many people show up. I see more and more new faces. That to me is a sign of hope,” Bauer said.
But racial discrimination is not limited to Canadian newcomers.
Cree Metis elder Theresa Corky Larsen-Jonasson recalled when an adult at school called her “a dirty little Indian” when she was in Grade 1.
“It’s long gone now, but for me the memory is still very much there,” said Larsen-Jonasson who was the keynote speaker at CommUnity.
She wanted to share her story because there are still many times when she has to defend indigenous people, and decisions continue to be made for First Nations in Canada without involving First Nations.
“The more we learn about each other the better it will be. The more we live together in the same community. The more we eat together at the same table. The more we pray together on the same land, the better it will be. We can do it.”