To commemorate March 21, the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, two community events were held: an anti-discrimination workshop (March 20) and the cultural mosaic (March 21).
The events, held in Red Deer, were a collaborative effort between the Central Alberta Refugee Effort, Central Alberta Immigrant Women’s Association, Red Deer Native Friendship Society, Central Alberta FASD Network, Catholic Social Services – Immigration and Settlement, Central Alberta AIDS Network Society, the HUB and the Golden Circle.
I would like to express my thanks to all those people involved in creating these successful events and also to the 140 diverse members of the community who attended and participated.
At each event, we were fortunate to have amazing speakers who shared their experiences and messages with us. Thank you to Blair Charters, Aisley Miles, Monybany Dau, Lyle Keewatin Richards, Elena Duval, Amber Javaid, Mounir Rahwan, Leslie Stonechild, Haris Bin Zafar. I would also like to acknowledge the table facilitators, moderators and writers, at both events, for volunteering their time and expertise.
A comment from one of the participants: “Both the events provided an open, respectful space for attendees to hear from some amazing speakers, but also to engage in meaningful dialogue around racism, other -isms and of diversity and the importance of building understanding and tolerance.”
I think that Red Deer has come a long way from how it was 10 years ago when I first worked in the area of intercultural education and awareness, and promoted the need for understanding and acceptance of all diversity. If we had invited members of the public to attend events such as these back then, we may have had very few participants.
I believe that Red Deer is becoming a more welcoming and inclusive community that will both attract people as a destination of choice, and encourage people to stay.
Finally, thank you to all of the individuals who donated ethnic food for the enjoyment of the participants and a special mention to the downtown Tim Hortons and Tandoor n’ Flame for their donations of Chilli and Pakora.
In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “We must be the change we wish to see in the world.”
Public Awareness Co-ordinator
Central Alberta Refugee Effort
(On behalf of the March 21st Events Committee)