Dozens of Red Deerians gathered to build awareness and understanding around the experience central Albertans have had with racial discrimination.
CARE for Newcomers hosted its eighth annual CommUnity Power of One event at Red Deer Polytechnic on Saturday.
“We aim to raise awareness around the racial issues people experience and try to empower people to take action,” said Ezgi Sarioglu, CARE for Newcomers community engagement manager.
“We want to get people together to discuss how we can come together in the community, talk about these issues in an open way and how we can take action. We try to inspire people and leave on a more powerful and hopeful note instead of leaving them feeling discouraged.”
The event is typically held on a Saturday near the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which is March 21.
The theme of this year’s event was “Remember, Reimagine, Rebuild.”
“We want to remember the past through a racialized lens. We want to reimagine how we envision the future. And we want to rebuild – we look at what are the tools and the steps we need to take action and rebuild the future we envision together,” said Sarioglu.
The event featured a pair of key note speakers: Dr. Lisa Rink and Chantal Changon. Additionally, there were breakout sessions attendees could be a part of in the morning and afternoon.
Sarioglu, who is originally from Turkey, said racial people experience racism a lot.
“It can be in very overt ways or … sometimes very subtle. It impacts us. There was research done a few years ago about racism in Red Deer and the results were really concerning,” they said.
“We believe, firstly, it’s important for people to acknowledge it. There are still questions of whether racism exists or whether people really experience it. Yes, we do. It’s systemic, it’s in society, it’s in school, it’s in workplaces.
“The aim is not to guilt or shame anybody, but to come together and work together to deal with these issues and create a more harmonious community where everyone feels safe and can express themselves the way they are.”
CommUnity Power of One was held in partnership with Catholic Social Services – Settlement, Lifelong Learning Council of Red Deer, Red Deer RCMP, Red Deer Cultural Heritage Society, Red Deer Polytechnic, Red Deer Arts Council, Red Deer Public Library, FRAP and the City of Red Deer.
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