Angie Chinguwo, Central Alberta Refugee Effort public awareness co-ordinator, raises her fist during a Black Lives Matter rally in Red Deer last summer. CARE hosted its sixth CommUnity Power of One event online Saturday. (File photo by Advocate staff)

Angie Chinguwo, Central Alberta Refugee Effort public awareness co-ordinator, raises her fist during a Black Lives Matter rally in Red Deer last summer. CARE hosted its sixth CommUnity Power of One event online Saturday. (File photo by Advocate staff)

‘It’s a problem’: Central Albertans participate in conversation about racism

Continuing to talk about racism is more important than ever, says a Central Alberta Refugee Effort representative.

CARE hosted its sixth CommUnity Power of One event Saturday morning. The virtual event was held to commemorate the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

The theme this year was “youth standing up against racism.”

With last summer’s anti-racism rallies around the world and recent conversations about Asian discrimination, it’s important to keep the conversation going, said Angie Chinguwo, CARE public awareness co-ordinator.

“Today was mainly about bringing community together and hearing the voices of people who have experienced racism,” said Chinguwo.

Dr. Wanda Costen, the dean of the School of Business at MacEwan University, and a keynote speaker during the virtual event, said racism exists in Canada and many aren’t willing to admit it.

“I will say to you, I experience far less racism here than in my home country (of the United States). The difference however is I know what to expect in my country. Canadians are more subtle about it,” Costen said during the virtual event.

“In the United States, we know we’re racist and we have the data to prove it. Canada just started documenting its census through (Statistics Canada) people’s demographic background and heritage. That’s ridiculous. That means by default your country thinks everybody has the same life experience and outcomes, when we know that is simply not true.”

Even mentioning or discussing racism in Canada is “taboo,” she added.

“It’s a problem. And when you have immigrants here, it makes it uncomfortable for them to share their lived experience and to tell you that you’ve got a problem because you’re in denial,” said Costen.

Mayor Tara Veer spoke at the beginning of the event, which took place over Zoom with more than 30 participants.

“The social tensions of the COVID-19 pandemic further revealed … and in some instances exacerbated the racial stereotyping, discrimination and racism, which we know exist in our community,” she said.

“We know that’s not all of our community, that Red Deer as a community we aspire to be welcoming and inclusive, and there are many people who are committed to that work … but we also know stereotyping, discrimination and racism are real.”



sean.mcintosh@reddeeradvocate.com

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