‘We Are Canada project’ showcases diverse Canadian stories of resilience, tenacity and tolerance

Nice initiative by the CRRF:

Whether they were born here or came from somewhere else, they all share the same resilience and drive to thrive in this land of opportunity and make Canada a stronger country.

Through civic engagement, social activism and volunteering, community leaders and activists featured in the Canadian Race Relations Foundation’s new project showcase personal stories that reflect the values Canadians share in spite of diverse backgrounds.

In light of the rise of nationalism and nativism around the world, Lilian Ma, the foundation’s executive director, said the “We Are Canada project” profiles ordinary Canadians who fight for social justice and contribute to the country in their respective ways.

“They are community heroes who make a difference in Canada. We want to make their stories known to other Canadians,” Ma said.

The idea of the virtual storybook came from photographer and writer Jean-François Bergeron, who grew up in a “secluded and closed” community in Quebec and was inspired by people he met while travelling across Canada over the years.

“I grew up in a very homogeneous city. There’s no exposure to foreign languages and other skin colour. Then I came across all these people from different faiths and cultures. I was impressed by how they all have shared values and common visions,” said Bergeron, who spent months travelling from coast to coast to photograph and interview dozens of people referred through his community and professional networks.

“They all have this strong desire to contribute to Canada. Their stories share the themes of resilience, tenacity, tolerance and hard work.”

Born in Toronto, Kristin Kobayashi was thrilled when she was approached to share her story. Her ancestors came to Canada from Japan as early as 1906 and went through displacement and internment here during the Second World War. Unlike her parents who grew up being pushed to be “more Canadian and less Japanese,” Kobayashi was raised to acknowledge her heritage and not be ashamed of her roots.

To her, Canada embodies open-mindedness, inclusiveness, the respect of diversity and cultural traditions, freedom of expression and equal opportunities.

“These are the values I was raised with and am trying to promote,” said Kobayashi, an investment adviser, who has been involved in the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre, Canadian Multicultural Council and the Toronto Police Service Asia Pacific Community Consultative Committee.

“It does not matter where people came from. It doesn’t make them less Canadian. We all came here at some point and we are all Canadian at the end of the day.”

Frantz Brent-Harris fled violence against the LGBTQ community in Jamaica for asylum in Canada in 2003 after he witnessed the murder of his friends. He was grateful to be here but it didn’t take him long to realize the subtlety of racism in Canada, from the person who stands up and leaves when he sits down on a bus to the lady who holds her handbag tight as he approaches.

The Toronto artist, sculptor and graphic designer also quickly recognized the lack of representation of Black people in the art scene that he says is still heavily influenced by colonialism. Through his art work, including his signature handcrafted Black dolls, he tries to reclaim that space.

“Attitudes and racism are taught to people. You can have some really nice people who have racist ideas due to ignorance. They are not malicious, but they just don’t have the exposure,” explained Brent-Harris, who believes the “We Are Canada” stories can serve as that bridge.

Pardeep Singh Nagra, a human rights advocate and Sikh community leader, hopes the narratives of different Canadians like him can inspire others, like he was once inspired by those profiled by Mehfil Magazine that served the South Asian community in Canada between 1993 and 2010.

“It featured people who looked like me. It spoke to me,” recalled Nagra, who endured racism while growing up in Malton and was trying to find his own identity as a Canadian.

Inspired by Baltej Singh Dhillon, who successfully lobbied the RCMP to allow Mounties to serve with a beard and turban in the late 1980s, Nagra, a trained boxer, twice took Canadian amateur boxing officials to court over their beard ban, and won.

Nagra said Canada has been built by pioneers of all backgrounds and an understanding and appreciation of that diverse history is what’s needed today when hate is spread through social media, and a law such as Quebec’s Bill 21 is passed to prohibit public sector workers such as teachers and police officers from wearing religious symbols at on the job.

“That’s alarming,” noted Nagra. “We are not others. We are all Canadians.”

Source: ‘We Are Canada project’ showcases diverse Canadian stories of resilience, tenacity and tolerance

Groundbreaking study documents extent of racism in Canada

In case you missed it, the latest project by the Canadian Race Relations Foundation and the Environics Institute. Media release below but well worth browsing through the main report:

Today – International Human Rights Day – the Environics Institute for Survey Research and the Canadian Race Relations Foundation released the Race Relations in Canada 2019 Survey, a new national survey of Canadians that is the first of its kind to cover race relations across the country.

This study confirms the reality of racism in Canada. Also important, it shows that this reality is widely if not universally acknowledged. Many Canadians across different racial backgrounds report experiences of racism and discrimination due to race, and also recognize that it also affects others of their own race and from other racial groups.

  •   Majorities of Canadians who are Black (54%) or Indigenous (53%) have personally experienced discrimination due to race or ethnicity from time to time if not regularly. Such experience is also evident but less widely reported by those who are South Asian (38%), Chinese (36%), from other racialized groups (32%), or White (12%).
  •   Most Canadians acknowledge that racialized Canadians experience discrimination either often or at least occasionally. Specifically, Canadians are most likely to believe that Indigenous Peoples (77%), Black people (73%), and South Asians (75%) experience discrimination often or occasionally; by comparison, fewer – although still a majority – (54%) believe this is the case for Chinese people in Canada. Very few (5%) say that racialized Canadians never experience discrimination.The reality of racism in Canada notwithstanding, most Canadians believe that different racial groups generally get along with one another, and are more likely to be optimistic than pessimistic about achieving racial equality in their lifetime.
  •   Eight in ten (81%) Canadians say that race relations in their own community are generally good in terms of how well people from different races get along with one another, versus just eight percent who describe such relations as generally bad. A positive view is held by large majorities of those who are White (84%), South Asian (83%), Chinese (81%) and Black (77%), and by a smaller majority who are Indigenous (69%).
  •   Six in ten are very (14%) or somewhat (46%) optimistic that all racialized people in Canada will be treated with the same respect as others in their lifetime, versus 26 percent who are pessimistic. Such optimism is evident across all racial groups, and strongest among younger Canadians.

“As social discourse has become coarser with the global emboldening of hate speech, so has the importance of civil dialogue grown,” said Dr. Lilian Ma, Executive Director of the Canadian Race Relation Foundation. “With the loosening of the bonds of civility, it becomes all the more essential to provide pragmatic, evidence-based and non-partisan data such as this. This study provides factual information based on lived experience and is meant to serve as a reference point for cross-cultural interchange.”

The Race Relations in Canada 2019 Survey establishes new benchmark indicators of race relations across Canada from the perspective of its citizens, and provides the foundation for monitoring progress over time. Themes covered in the research include: the state of race relations in Canada, attitudes toward specific racial groups, perceptions of racial discrimination in Canada generally and of one’s own racial group, and personal experiences. The study also draws comparisons with the attitudes and experiences of Americans based on research conducted in the USA.

“This type of research can serve as point of common ground that brings different stakeholders together, and provide a means for measuring progress (or the lack of) over time to support organizations in the public, private and non-profit sectors who are working to reduce racism both internally and in broader society” comments Dr. Keith Neuman, the study’s project director at the Environics Institute.

The full report of the study is available at: Full report

The research consisted of a survey conducted online between April 17 and May 6, 2019, with a sample of 3,111 Canadians ages 18 and over. The sample was stratified to ensure representation by province, age and gender, and also included over-samples of individuals who self-identify as Chinese, Black, South Asian or Indigenous (First Nations, Métis, Inuit) (the four largest racialized populations in Canada).

ICYMI: Canadian attitudes toward immigrants, refugees remain positive – Environics Focus Canada 2018

The latest Focus Canada 2018 data, overall ongoing positive trends:

The arrival of Syrian refugees, as well as thousands of asylum seekers over the United States border, along with the global growth in anti-immigrant sentiment have barely moved the positive attitude most Canadians have toward new arrivals, a study has found.

Six-in-10 Canadians chose “disagree” when asked the question “Are immigration levels too high?” in the February survey by the Environics Institute for Survey Research – a finding that has remained relatively stable for a decade. Eight-in-10 said immigrants have a positive economic impact. Compared with last year’s survey, more respondents believed that immigrants adopt Canadian values. Most of the national results extended a steady 30-year trend toward greater acceptance of immigrants.

“I think some people felt retrenchment was happening, or at least feared it was happening, but since last year the change is pretty small and is still more positive than negative,” said Keith Neuman, executive director of the Environics Institute that conducted the survey of 2,000 Canadians.

Canadians also inched away from the polarization over immigration issues seen in Europe and in the United States under Donald Trump. Canadians were less likely to strongly agree or disagree with several poll questions and more likely to express uncertainty and doubt, according to Dr. Neuman. “It’s not a big change, but it’s enough to say opinions are a little less polarized than last year,” he said. “It’s dangerous to assume what’s happening in the United States or elsewhere is also happening here. ”

The trends, however, are not universally positive toward immigration. Albertans and, to a lesser extent, Quebeckers, expressed more doubt about the legitimacy of refugee claims than in the previous survey, lowering the national score slightly. Respondents in both provinces also expressed more doubt about whether immigrants are adopting Canadian values.

“It’s Alberta rather than Quebec that has the hardest attitudes toward immigrants and refugees, which is not what we tend to assume,” Dr. Neuman said. “But it’s too early to say it’s a trend.”

Some 49,775 people claimed asylum in Canada in 2017, including 20,593 who came in at irregular crossings, mostly in Quebec. About 300,000 landed in other immigrant categories.

The irregular crossings received enormous attention in Quebec, including a lot of commentary expressing doubts about the legitimacy of the asylum claims. The province also saw the rise in profile of small, far-right fringe groups hostile to immigration, but the phenomenon seems to have limited reach.

The poll showed 42 per cent of Quebeckers agreed with the statement “Many people claiming to be refugees are not real refugees.” That number is up three percentage points from last year. Forty-three per cent disagreed, down six points. Nationally, 38 per cent agreed, while 48 per cent disagreed.

In Alberta, 48 per cent said they agree that many refugee claimants are not real refugees, an increase of three percentage points, while 35 per cent disagreed, a drop of nine points. Sixty-two per cent of Albertans said too many immigrants don’t adopt Canadian values compared with the national score of 51 per cent.

Even before the results were shared with him, Fariborz Birjandian, chief executive of the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society, anticipated the Alberta difference.

Once he heard the numbers, Mr. Birjandian said the higher level of negative attitudes captured in the poll disguise an Alberta paradox: Some Albertans donate and volunteer to help settle refugees more than most Canadians while others express suspicion or hostility toward them.

“My conclusion is this: Albertans have stronger opinions on immigration. Those who support it support it wholeheartedly and those who have questions have stronger opinions, too. Albertans are more opinionated,” Mr. Birjandian said.

Alberta’s economy has also been in bad shape with the collapse of oil prices. Economic uncertainty often increases negative feelings about immigration, said Sarah Aimes, director of the immigrant-services department at Lethbridge Family Services. But, she said, positive sentiment about the Syrian refugees has tempered the negatives.

The Environics Institute poll of 2,000 Canadians, conducted by telephone between Feb. 5 and Feb. 17, has asked the same questions for three decades. It has a margin of error of 2.2 percentage points, in 19 out of 20 samples.

On a global scale, Canada still stands out for the public’s positive attitudes toward new comers and in the happiness that immigrants themselves report. When asked about their well-being, Canadian immigrants were ranked seventh-happiest out of 140 countries.

via Canadian attitudes toward immigrants, refugees remain positive: study – The Globe and Mail

The danger of politicizing race relations: CRRF Chair

A somewhat unclear piece by the Chair of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation, Albert Lo.

Hard to know if written as a general piece in terms of how to have respectful dialogue, a post-Charlottesville commentary or recent Canadian protests and demonstrations, or a defence for the Board membership of  Christine Douglass-Williams  (see Federal appointee to race relations board under scrutiny for writings on Islam) given its timing and the tenor of the last few paragraphs.

My take on how to have respectful and reasoned debates on immigration and related issues will be coming out shortly in IRPP:

The purpose of the CRRF, as provided in the Canadian Race Relations Foundation Act, is to facilitate throughout Canada the development, sharing and application of knowledge and expertise in order to contribute to the elimination of racism and all forms of racial discrimination in Canadian society.

CRRF’s work, in essence, is to encourage Canadians, irrespective of their racial background or ethnicity, to uphold and honor the human dignity of all our fellow citizens.  Indeed, inherent human dignity is the very central pillar of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

We all treasure our rights and freedoms as enshrined in the Canadian Constitution.  Where these rights and freedoms are abridged or encroached upon, even in favour of one right over another, or where the same are subjugated or circumvented for the sake of expediency, convenience or gain, whether financial, sectoral, political or otherwise, all will be worse off in the end, if not immediately. Rights subverted become a precedent for future action, especially politically, so that a retaliatory psyche can well become ingrained into the human rights system.

As individuals and as a society, we need to recognize that human dignity, and the rights that emanate from it, are a sacrosanct principle that ought to transcend politics across the entire political spectrum and we need to ensure that the instruments related to enforcement or promotion of rights remain free of political taint.

As Canadians, we have a shared responsibility to support and respect the rights and freedoms of one another.  To ensure a healthy Canadian society where diversity and inclusion truly flourishes, it behooves all of us to resist the temptation of politicizing the human rights arena for self-serving considerations.

History tells us that when government machinery is exploited or co-opted as a blunt instrument to silence dissent, to advance the rights or benefits of some at the expense of some others or someone, society suffers monumentally for generations to come. Witness the sensationalism, bogus narratives, demonization and hatemongering leading up to and surrounding the Indian Residential Schools, the Chinese Exclusion Act, the Komagata Maru incidence, the St. Louis Ship travesty and the Japanese Canadian internment… The list goes on.  History can repeat itself if we ignore the lessons.

Exactly because of their motivation to prevent history from repeating on anyone else in Canada, the NAJC (National Association of Japanese Canadians) negotiated for the creation of the CRRF (Canadian Race Relations Foundation).  They also committed $12 million from their redress settlement, matched equally by the Government of Canada, toward an endowment for the Foundation, not for any self-indulgent purpose, which they are rightly entitled to in the circumstance, but instead for the betterment of all Canadians.

To delineate and ensure its function as an arms-length voice of reason and conscience, the NAJC negotiated for CRRF’s status as a non-agent Crown corporation, of which the Chairperson, directors, Executive Director, officers, employees and agents are not part of the federal public administration.

Human dignity and human rights can only thrive in a society where freedom and democracy is robust and healthy, where freedom of the press, freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of religion, etc., is defended and respected for everyone.

In a free and democratic society, no one has a monopoly on the public square.  Every citizen has a right to their opinions, no matter how disagreeable, controversial, unorthodox or offensive others may think, save and except for illegal or violent acts.  Demonization, character assassination and smear campaigns are a direct threat to the sanctity of civil discourse. Self-righteousness does not lessen these dangers but can increase them.

In these challenging times, citizens and government alike must take extra caution and vigilance against the dangers of faulty logic or superficial and simplistic examinations, or giving in to the effects of mass hysteria.

Just because East Asians eat rice, and many North Americans also eat rice, does not make those North Americans all East Asians.  To conclude otherwise is simple fallacy.  But that is exactly what many have witnessed in society today, where conflation of issues is rampant, and imputing motives or guilt by association seems to be the order of the day.

There are various views on difficult ethical and social issues and extremist and special interest groups may try to appropriate them or associate themselves with one perspective. These situations are particularly dangerous to the well-being of civil society where open and objective discussion becomes destroyed by ideologies or political movements seeking gain, turning debate into labelling and name calling. The challenge for all of us is to maintain a space where reason and compromise can still operate without politicization or unhelpful rhetoric.

As an organization dedicated to preserving NAJC’s generous legacy and the Government’s commitment to honoring the redress agreement, we invite you to join us in promoting and growing that legacy as an effective antidote to the many issues revolving around racism and racial discrimination.

Source: The danger of politicizing race relations

Federal appointee to race relations board (@CRRF) under scrutiny for writings on Islam | nanaimonewsNOW

One of the more ideological choices of the previous government. Understandable under review:

A board member with the Canadian Race Relations Foundation, an arms-length federal government agency with a mandate to combat racial discrimination, is in jeopardy of losing her post over her writings on the controversial website Jihad Watch.

Christine Douglass-Williams has been writing for the site almost since she was appointed to the foundation’s board in 2012. But multiple sources have told The Canadian Press that the government is reviewing that appointment in the wake of an essay that appeared on the site in May.

The post, entitled, “Christine Williams: My personal warning to Icelanders,” was based on a visit Douglass-Williams paid to the country alongside Jihad Watch founder and U.S. academic Robert Spencer earlier this year.

In it, Douglass-Williams warns that Icelanders are being duped by seemingly moderate Muslims who deceive people into believing they are harmless, and writes that if Muslims truly had nothing to hide, they’d allow police to conduct surveillance in their mosques.

“Islamic supremacists will smile at you, invite you to their gatherings, make you feel loved and welcome, but they do it to deceive you and to overtake you, your land and your freedoms,” she writes.

“They intentionally make you feel guilty for questioning their torturous deeds toward humanity — toward women, Christians, gays, Jews, apostates, infidels and anyone who dares to oppose these deeds.”

With concerns about the post circulating among her fellow board members, it came to the attention of Heritage Minister Melanie Joly, whose department is responsible for the foundation.

Specifically, there are concerns that Douglass-Williams’s views are a hindrance to her work with the foundation and an affront to its legally defined mandate, which is to help eliminate racism and racial discrimination in Canada.

In a statement to The Canadian Press, Douglass-Williams said it is not racist to oppose “the jihadist-Islamist” agenda, and that her writings are entirely in keeping with the work of the board.

“Any efforts currently against me in my private work are an unjust, agenda-driven and cruel attempt to intimidate me for my distaste for all supremacist agendas,” she wrote. She pointed to her recent book, “The Challenges of Modernizing Islam,” as proof that she’s pro-Muslim and pro-human rights.

“My book differentiates between Islamists and human rights-respecting Muslims who thrive to live peaceably and equally among Westerners,” Douglass-Williams wrote.

“They ask for no special favors and advocate for the separation of mosque and state; they condemn Islamism, and stand against human rights abuses committed in the name of their religion, sometimes at great personal risk.”

Pierre-Olivier Herbert, a spokesperson for Joly, said the foundation needs a board that recognizes the importance of diversity and inclusion.

“While we cannot comment on specific cases, with respect to Governor in Council (GIC) appointees, it is expected that appointees’ conduct not be at odds with an organization’s mandate, otherwise the GIC will consider whether action should be taken,” Herbert said.

The foundation was launched in 1997 as part of the settlement the federal government at the time reached with Japanese Canadians over their internment in Canada during the Second World War.

It holds workshops and roundtables across the country on combating racism, and also funds research into Canadian attitudes towards multiculturalism, immigration and other issues.

Board member and foundation spokesman Rubin Friedman said allegations that Douglass-Williams was Islamophobic had been brought to the attention of the board.

“We discussed those allegations and we looked at our mandate, and our policy, and we decided that we don’t make comment on what our part time board members do outside of our organization.”

The board has no control over its membership, Friedman said, and whatever might happen next is up to the government. Douglass-Williams’s current term expires in 2018.

Spencer, who launched Jihad Watch in 2003, has expressed frustration with the view that the perpetrators of the 9/11 terrorist attacks did not represent the true peaceful nature of Islam. He believes it must be made clear that the attacks were rooted in Islam — not to demonize Muslims, but to prove there’s a problem within the religion.

Spencer has gone on to deny the existence of Islamophobia, calling it a term deployed in order to “intimidate non-Muslims away from criticizing or resisting the jihad and Islamic supremacism.”

Douglass-Williams picked up on similar themes in a March 2017 post about a controversial House of Commons motion that called “on the government of Canada to condemn Islamophobia in Canada and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination.”

Douglass-Williams accused the Liberal MP who sponsored the motion of being part of a broader plot when she insisted on including the word Islamophobia in the text, as opposed to other suggested phrases like “anti-Muslim bigotry.”

In a statement, the National Council of Canadian Muslims said anyone with such views has no place on the foundation’s board.

“For a federal appointee to be writing for hateful websites, denying the existence of Islamophobia and calling for the violation of fundamental rights and freedoms of a minority community is contrary to everything the Canada Race Relations Foundation stands for and to the values enshrined in the charter,” Amira Elghawaby said in a statement.

“We are confident that the federal government will take appropriate action with respect to this matter.”

Source: Federal appointee to race relations board under scrutiny for writings on Islam | nanaimonewsNOW

Religious Accommodation Still a Struggle in Quebec

Some insights from a recent Canadian Race Relations Foundation workshop on faith and social inclusion in Montreal:

There was consensus among the panelists that schools are the best place to be pro-active.

Gagnon gave credit to Quebec’s Spiritual and Community Animation program in elementary and secondary schools. As a former spiritual and community animator at the EMSB, he said focusing on spirituality rather than religion provides “a window to talk about what we have in common.”

The program was introduced after Bill 118 (2000) deconfessionalized public school boards and introduced a mandate to promote diversity and pluralism.

“There’s always this push and pull,” said Poupko. “I think it has do with asking what’s reasonable and expecting a common sense response.”

That’s the approach Cristina Bajenaru takes as Project Coordinator at the Centre d’Encadrement pour Jeunes Femmes Immigrantes, a community organization that helps young immigrant women integrate.

Bajenaru said her clientele comes from 60 countries so she has to take a common sense approach to accommodation. If her training workshops coincide with Muslim holidays, she explained, “I can’t tell them to come, but I can’t tell them not to come either.” She said she lets them decide, and roughly half the class ends up staying home.

Through community consultations, the CRRF compiled dozens of other real scenarios that have come up in workplaces across the country. These are included in the Faith and Belonging Toolkit, a resource for workshop participants to encourage discussion and develop appropriate responses to accommodation.

Using the resource, Gagnon said he was impressed at the ability of the group to come up with solutions to complex scenarios.

“Spirituality in the public sphere, in [the] workplace, in society, when we talk about it reasonably and calmly, we find solutions,” he said.

Source: Religious Accommodation Still a Struggle in Quebec – New Canadian Media

Using culture and religion to combat incitement: David Matas

From David Matas’ talk at the recent CRRF Webinar, ‘The Power of Words’ (see earlier post CRRF Webinar: Multiculturalism and The Power of Words) and the particular need for the voices of insiders:

The effort to combat human rights violating discourse must be the work of both insiders and outsiders.  Leaving the efforts to others, the outsiders, is a recipe for failure.  Leaving the efforts to outsiders creates an artificial impression of foreign cultural or religious imposition which undermines the advocacy of universality of the standards.

For insiders to assume sole responsibility has the same effect. By leaving the struggle to insiders alone, we create the impression that incitement is an issue for the particular religion or culture alone rather than for us all.

Insiders have a special risk and a special role.  Only insiders can be accused of treason or apostasy.  Only insiders can speak with authority to what the culture or religion truly is.

Ideally, leadership in the struggle against human rights violating discourse should come from within, from the leaders of the cultural or religious community. Solidarity should come from without.  Universality must be more than a word.  It must be demonstrated in fact.  We who are outsiders should be supporting those in every religious and cultural community who stand against incitement emanating from that community.

There is a direct linkage between incitement and other human rights violations.  War propaganda leads to war. Incitement to terrorism leads to terrorism.  Incitement to discrimination leads to discrimination.  Both incitement to genocide and hate propaganda lead to genocide.

There is a direct linkage between the abuse of the religious and cultural idioms to propagate terror, war, genocide, hatred and discrimination and the terrorism, war, discrimination and mass killings in which some members of the culture or religion engage. In some situations, and I see this often in my refugee practice, the opponents in-country of this propaganda emanating from their own culture or religion become primary targets of the propagators.  Standing against incitement in a country without respect for the rule of law means you yourself will become a target for the inciters.

In that situation global solidarity is essential, both within and without the culture or religion from which the incitement emanates. We need to cross the cultural, linguistic, geographic and religious divide not just to show the universality of rights and solidarity with the victims but also as a simple practical matter.  Whether inside or outside the culture or religion, only those outside the country where violations are rampant can there be unequivocal public opposition to human rights violating discourse.

To a certain extent, this problem exists even in countries benefiting from the rule of law.  In countries with the rule of law, those opposed to incitement within their culture or religion may not face the risk of physical harm.  But in a situation where the discourse of incitement in the culture or religion is prevalent, opponents to the discourse within the culture or the religion may face ostracism and scorn.  They risk becoming pariahs in their own communities.

How many of us are prepared to confront our parents, our siblings, our neighbours, our community leaders when they engage in discourse which would be objectively labelled incitement to genocide, hatred, discrimination, terrorism or war? How many of us would hesitate to risk personal relationships in order to stand up against incitement uttered by someone close to us?  How many of us would rather leave the confrontation to a stranger?

Yet, the reality is that a challenge from someone from the same community or culture is likely to have more impact on the genocide/ hate/ terrorism/ war/ discrimination promoter than a challenge from someone culturally or religiously remote. It may be easy for an inciter to shrug off outsiders. It is harder to shrug off your own.

I have avoided giving examples partly because it is invidious to give one or two, partly because it would more than exhaust my time and your patience to be comprehensive, but mostly because I am confident that every one participating can think of examples on his or her own.  While each of us should be thinking about how we can help others in other cultural or religious communities to address the problem of incitement, primarily we should be thinking of what we can do each in our own cultural or religious community to combat this scourge.

Using culture and religion to combat incitement

CRRF Webinar: Multiculturalism and The Power of Words

 Short summary and links to the presentations by David Matas and myself:

words letterpress photo
The first Directions webinar was held on October 6th at 11 am EST.

The webinar featured members of our journal’s Editorial Advisory Panel, Andrew Griffith and David Matas. Andrew and David spoke about their research as it relates to The Power of Words, with a specific focus on multiculturalism in Canada. Their presentations and questions from participants are posted below.

The webinar was moderated by Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux.

The Winter 2015 issue, The Power of Words responds to the question, “Is our lexicon a positive force or part of the problem?”

Published in print and online January 2016, The Power of Words speaks to the importance of reviewing and evolving science terminology in response to changing demographics and settlement trends. The concept of hyphenated Canadians, terms such as ‘visible minorities’ and ‘newcomers,’ and even the idea of ‘race relations’ require ongoing reassessment, and are being challenged and re-examined in the context of our changing society. How do language and lexicon in policy, in the media, and in daily interactions influence our experiences, identities, attitudes, and relationships? How can discourse create and perpetuate unbalanced power relations, marginalizing certain groups and individuals? How can we use language to promote positive race relations in a harmonious Canada?


Andrew Griffith’s presentation >

David Mata’s presentation >


Did you miss the webinar, or would you like to listen to the discussion again? Check out the audio recording of the webinar here.

Source: Articles and Announcements – Webinar: Multiculturalism and The Power of Words

For a slightly expanded version of my presentation (an additional slide contrasting the words of Harper, Mulcair and Trudeau):

CRRF Power of Words – My Deck

Sign up today! CRRF Directions: Webinar – ‘The Power of Words’ 6 October

Join David Matas and myself in a discussion of the ‘power of words’ to shape discourse around citizenship, immigration and multiculturalism.

Sign-up: CRRF Directions: Webinar – The ‘Power of Words’ Tuesday, 6 October 11 am

Canadian Race Relations Foundation: Directions Journal Call for Submissions

A reminder and should be an interesting edition, given the focus on words and lexicons:

Is our lexicon a positive force or part of the problem?

The Call for Papers for the Winter 2015 Issue is now open.

Published in print and online December 2015, The Power of Words speaks to the importance of reviewing and evolving social science terminology in response to changing demographics and settlement trends. The concept of hyphenated Canadians, terms such as ‘visible minorities’ and ‘newcomers,’ and even the idea of ‘race relations’ require ongoing reassessment, and are being challenged and re-examined in the context of our changing society.

Directions provides a space for established and emerging scholars, community organizations and race relations practitioners to publish their research. It also offers a forum for important dialogue and debate on race-related issues and best practices, and practical recommendations for policy development and change. Directions is curated to promote social cohesion amongst all individuals and groups living in a harmonious Canada.

Research Questions

How do language and lexicon in policy, in the media, and in daily interactions influence our experiences, identities, attitudes, and relationships? How can discourse create and perpetuate unbalanced power relations, marginalizing certain groups and individuals? How can we use language to promote positive race relations in a harmonious Canada?

These dynamic questions represent the types of issues that CRRF intends to explore in the upcoming issue of Directions in Winter 2015.

Call for Papers

Submit your research, editorial, abstract, or book review for the Winter 2015 Issue of Directions.

Submit a letter of inquiry or abstract by June 30, 2015 Submit online >