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Introduction to the Racism and Discrimination: Workshop Summary

Written by Rabeeya Tasnim

Education and Allyship Program (EAP) of Bangladeshi-Canadian Community Services (BCS) recently hosted the inaugural session of the Ambassadors Workshop Series, dedicated to combating "Persistence of Racism and Discrimination." This series aims to foster a robust dialogue and strategize on mitigating systemic injustices impacting diverse communities. This workshop is delivered by the youth EAP ambassadors with an aim to feature the learning from the speaker series and self-development.



Detailed Overview of the Agenda

The workshop began with an Indigenous Land Acknowledgement, a respectful tribute to the traditional custodians of the land, setting a reflective tone for the discussions. The agenda unfolded with an extensive exploration of racism and discrimination through various lenses:

Historical Analysis: The session delved into the historical roots of racism, tracing its origins from the 17th century, through the use of derogatory classifications in the 18th century, to pseudo-scientific racial theories in the 1930s.

Comprehensive Definitions: Facilitators outlined various forms of racism—internalized, interpersonal, institutional, and structural—and discrimination against various groups including those based on age, disability, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, and religion.

Empirical Data: Presenters shared findings from a four-year study highlighting the persistence of professional racism and its impact on different age demographics, particularly during the pandemic.

Strategic Responses: The discussion also covered potential solutions, such as policy reform, changing societal perceptions, and enhancing human rights awareness. Practical tools discussed included the UNESCO toolkit and Canadian-specific resources like the Reconciliation toolkit for business leaders.

Core Message and Call to Action

The fundamental message underscored the necessity of continuous awareness, education, and proactive community involvement to combat racism. Participants were urged to embrace policies fostering healthcare equity and to actively participate in civil rights movements, promoting a culture of inclusivity.

Personal Narratives and Insights

A standout feature of the workshop was the sharing of personal experiences by participants, which illustrated the real-world impacts of racism and discrimination. Afia Ferdoushi, a local service worker, shared how customers often assume she is Indian and begin speaking to her in Hindi, highlighting a common form of racial assumption that can feel disrespectful. She also recounted a moving encounter with a Bangladeshi family planning to seek refugee status in Canada, who felt pressured to abandon their cultural heritage for better integration and job prospects in Canada. Afia’s conversations with them emphasized the importance of cultural pride and the unique value of diversity in Canadian society.

Reflections and Next Steps

The workshop concluded with a call for participants to reflect on their learnings and to contribute to ongoing efforts by completing a post-event survey. This feedback will be instrumental in refining future workshops to ensure they are as impactful as possible.

The ambassadors eagerly anticipate the next session in the Ambassadors Workshop Series, where we will continue our discussions on these critical issues. Your involvement and insights are crucial as we work together to dismantle barriers and cultivate an environment of equality and respect.

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