This panel discussion unpacked the ways in which racism and discrimination present themselves in our society.
Panelists discussed how each of us can be a stronger ally and anti-racist on and off campus. We delved into ways to safely talk about race and discrimination and explored how post-secondary institutions can transform themselves into more inclusive spaces for staff and students.
This panel was presented in partnership with the RRC Polytech Students Association. Ginger Arnold, an Instructor in Social Innovation and Community Development, moderated the discussion.
Eternity Martis is an award-winning Toronto-based journalist whose work covers racial injustice, gender-based violence, health and reproductive rights, relationships, and identity politics. Her work has appeared in The Huffington Post, VICE, Chatelaine, Maclean’s, Salon, The Walrus, and more, and has been taught at universities, transformed newsrooms, and changed policies on anti-Black racism in Canada. She is the author of They Said This Would Be Fun, a book about race, campus life, and growing up.
Jason Mercredi is of Misipawistik Cree Nation, Ininnu descent. He holds a degree from Queen’s University’s Faculty of Law with a focus on Aboriginal Law. His work focuses on advancing Indigenous rights and Indigenous sovereignty through research, and on supporting First Nations by helping them understand their rights and current realities, and by rebuilding Indigenous governance systems.
Zilla Jones is a criminal defense lawyer and proprietor of the Winnipeg firm Jones Law Office. She specializes in challenging abuses of police authority at disciplinary hearings and public inquests, and has appeared at all levels of court in Manitoba and the Supreme Court of Canada. She is active in numerous community organizations and boards.
- Resource and Resolution Advisor
- Counselling/Mental Health Supports
- Indigenous Supports
- Elder Supports
- Employee and Family Assistance Program for RRC Polytech Staff
- If you are seeking BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) mental health resources within Winnipeg, please refer to the BIPOC Mental Health Workers Resource List.
- For diversity-related supports or to get involved in the anti-racism discussions/work at the College, please reach out to email@example.com.
Interested in learning more about Anti-Racism and Reconciliation?
RRC Polytech Library Reading Lists and Resources
- Anti-Racism Learning Toolkit
- Cinematic Journeys Through Truth and Reconciliation Week
- Residential Schools: Resources
- Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls
- Indigenous Health and Well-Being
- Black History Video Collection
Additional Literature Suggestions
- Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad
- Seven Fallen Feathers by Tanya Talaga
- How to Be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi
- Caste by Isabel Wilkerson
- They Said This Would be Fun by Eternity Martis
Anti-Racism Event: Audience Q&A
We turned to the following people to provide the answers below:
- Zilla Jones, a Winnipeg criminal defense lawyer who specializes in challenging abuses of police authority at disciplinary hearings and public inquests, and has appeared at all levels of court in Manitoba and the Supreme Court of Canada. Zilla was a panelist at our event.
- Jason Mercredi, whose work focuses on advancing Indigenous rights and Indigenous sovereignty, on supporting First Nations by helping them understand their rights, and on rebuilding Indigenous governance systems. Jason was a panelist at our event.
- Priyanji Mediwake, Diversity and Inclusion Specialist, RRC Polytech.
- Melissa Goulbourne, Organizational Development Consultant & RRC Polytech Anti-Racism Steering Committee member
- Melanie Gudmundson, Chief Human Resource Officer, RRC Polytech
- Jess Spindler, Resource and Resolution Officer, RRC Polytech
Many students and staff are not familiar with marginalized lived experiences and they may have negative attitudes toward diversity and inclusion initiatives. How do we get them to authentically buy in, or at least lessen the social backlash to these important initiatives?
What are common mistakes made by allies or well-intentioned individuals?
How can students promote anti-racism within their own classrooms? Often curriculum changes are too slow, and these conversations are critical and need to be happening before students graduate.
Addressing overt discrimination or microaggression
How can one cope in a class that is mostly white-dominated, in which most people refuse to associate with you physically? They do not necessarily say bad things within your hearing, but do not make efforts to engage in a conversation, or look at you in a weird way.
Globally, COVID-19 has shown us what a public health crisis can look like, along with its far-reaching impacts. Given this awareness, what would happen if Canada were to treat the systemic and structural racist barriers that exists for racialized as a public health issue? What would that look like to each of the panelists?
Should we adopt the word accomplice rather than ally?
How will you know if a group you are with is a positive/safe space? And how can you navigate interactions without offending anyone while bringing up these sensitive topics?
Can you offer any recommendations for Black parents on how to prepare their children for the racism they will face in the school system?
My wife is a white Canadian, but deaf. She often has to fight for accessibility, and often it's an uphill battle. How can we expect racism to be fixed, if discrimination exists everywhere?
Transforming the post-secondary landscape
Do you think designing courses that are flexible, perhaps modular, with open-ended timelines, would help marginalized people be successful in post-secondary education?
Question for Jason: How can we frame teaching to Indigenous young ones so that they are not rushed to complete their programs?
Question for Zilla: I really appreciated how you worded your statement about how class discussions can be a minefield of trauma. How can instructors ensure that their students aren't becoming the polarized point of discussion?
I'm an Indigenous instructor and often find myself caught between my students and policies and views of education based on Euro-Canadian values. It's super exhausting. Any advice on how to deal with the exhaustion and not to get burnt out by it?
Please share any anti-racist groups we can connect with on a local, provincial, national level.
For those of us who may not have the money or time to take an extra course, what can we do to educate ourselves on these issues? Are there workshops? Shorter courses at a lower cost?
Red River College Polytechnic and Anti-Racism
What are the rights and responsibilities of the College, its instructors, and students when someone exhibits racist behaviour on campus?
How are public institutions such RRC Polytech held to account for diversity, equity, and inclusion? What are the metrics RRC Polytech has to account for at the end of each quarter/fiscal year? How do these metrics reflect the diversity, equity and inclusion needs of BIPOC students and the communities within which they live?
How do you ensure that the leadership of the organization begins to look like the students it serves?
How can we create more safe spaces for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour) individuals in our fields of study?
A number of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour) students in my program made it clear they felt singled out because of race by a specific student. When we brought it up, we were told we shouldn’t make it about race. How do we deal with these situations, where people in positions of power doesn’t listen?