Taz Kassam-Fuller

‘We can’t be afraid anymore of each other,’ speaker tells diversity conference

Being brave enough to have uncomfortable conversations will be key to authentic reconciliation and fostering truly diverse communities.

Being brave enough to have uncomfortable conversations will be key to authentic reconciliation and fostering truly diverse communities.

And it won’t be easy, said Tanya Kappo, the opening keynote speaker at the two-day Fostering Diverse Communities Conference at Westerner Park on Thursday.

Kappo brought her message of authentic reconciliation, which means not having a pre-determined definition of reconciliation. It has to be decided together, she said.

“Don’t be afraid,” said Kappo.

“We can’t be afraid anymore of each other … The attempts are there but I am very optimistic. There is a lot to be done. I think we are heading in the right direction.”

Kappo is a lawyer, public speaker and Indigenous Rights activist from the Sturgeon Lake Cree Nation.

She has often been credited with starting the Idle No More movement across Canada and she has played significant roles in Walking With Our Sisters and the Round Dance Revolution.

In her address, Kappo gave examples throughout Canadian history such as the language including assimilation and colonization, treaty relationships, The White Papers, Meech Lake Accord and the Oka Crisis that did not echo diversity but in fact were the exact opposite.

Cree Métis elder Corky Larsen Jonasson said a diverse community means one that is accepting of everybody “as is, all the way and not just the pretty bits and pieces.”

Like Kappo, Larsen Jonasson said there has been a shift but there is still a long way to go.

Larsen Jonasson said First Nations peoples are often asked to give blessings or show up at events and sometimes they are prohibited from smudging. She has always been taught to respect how other people pray, said Larsen Jonasson.

Smudging allows the First Nations peoples to acknowledge what gives life — earth, water, sun and air.

“It is an insult of not knowing,” she said. “I truly believe we are moving to a place but it is super frustrating when we still run into it.”

Red Deer is doing its best, she said.

“But we still have to get to a place where we don’t make decisions without the people that are going to be affected by those decisions, said Larsen Jonasson.

She said there is opportunity to learn every time there is a conference or a workshop. Right now she is interested in learning more about the Filipino community, for example.

Conference co-organizer Taz Kassam-Fuller said the conference provides an opportunity for networking with community members to ultimately bring the city together in a meaningful way. She said it is about uniting the community regardless of race, ethnicity, soci-economic status, youth, seniors, sexual orientation and gender identity.

The attendees will participate break out sessions, workshops listen to other keynote speakers and network. It wraps up on Friday afternoon.

crhyno@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

Indigenous elders win Women of Excellence lifetime achievement award

The ceremony was Wednesday at the Cambridge Hotel and Conference Centre in Red Deer

RCMP officer accused of sexual assault could take stand Thursday

Crown prosecutor expected to finish her case in morning

Red Deer area has lower than average vaccination rates

Medical officer of health encourages parents to prevent serious diseases

Red Deer school hopes community will help keep meal program running

Funding for provincial nutrition program not guaranteed in the fall

WATCH: New RDC president has three decades of experience working at colleges and universities

Peter Nunoda says he’s ‘excited’ to help transition the college into a university

Tampa Bay Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov wins Hart, Lindsay at NHL Awards

LAS VEGAS — Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov won the Hart Trophy and… Continue reading

RCMP allows officers to grow beards

Members can now wear beards and goatees, as long as they’re neatly groomed

Former starting QB Mike Reilly returning to Edmonton as member of B.C. Lions

Mike Reilly returns to Commonwealth Stadium on Friday night, but Edmonton head… Continue reading

Ottawa Redblacks look to improve in Week 2 against Saskatchewan Roughriders

OTTAWA — The Ottawa Redblacks are confident things can only get better.… Continue reading

Opinion: Trans Mountain pipeline proceeds should be invested in Alberta

By David Marsden There’s a much-expected sigh of relief now that the… Continue reading

Why Solar: Alberta is serious about the energy transition

The powers that be are a misguided bunch, literally. It would seem… Continue reading

Follow the money: Salary cap could spawn NHL trade frenzy

Matt Niskanen wasn’t totally shocked when the Washington Capitals traded him to… Continue reading

Most Read