A big thank you to Alberta's NDP government's commitment and leadership in addressing difficult topics such as racism. We recently had the privilege to sit at a roundtable discussion with Minister of Education, David Eggen, about Alberta's K-12 curriculum and how we can include diversity and pluralism in it.
Our organization will be releasing a research study about the state of race relations in Albertan schools in September with recommendations we hope the government will implement. And we are also working on a K-12 Multicultural Resource Hub that teachers can use in their classrooms. Keep a look out! Diversity is our strength, and we’ll keep working together to ensure all students see themselves represented in our curriculum.
Take part in our latest event - Calgary’s Audio Experience on July 21 at 6pm outside of Eau Claire Plaza downtown.
Wondering what an Audio Experience is?
YYC Audio Experience is a live event where attendees download an audio file and listen to synchronized tasks in a specific place at a specific time through earphones/headphones.
Here’s how it works: A week before the event, we will upload an audio file (around 45 minutes) that you download on your device (mp3 player, phone, tablet, etc.). Everyone meets at the specified location (Outside Eau Claire Plaza) wearing headphones/earphones, and blends in with the unsuspecting crowd. At the start time (6pm), everyone will simultaneously press play and that’s when the fun begins. A set of instructions will guide you and everyone participating through a journey of amusement. Laughter and confusion will follow as onlookers try to figure out what’s going on.
More information: bit.ly/yycaudioexperience
How do we define public art? Does it relate to our values or influence how we identify with our city? Perhaps it’s characterized by the relationship with artists’ process. Join d.talks for a discussion on the value of public art. Not the cost, but the ways that public art connects people to place.
Given the horrific events that occurred on Monday, we will be organizing a vigil for the victims of the Toronto van attack. This will be an open space to light a candle and come together as a community to show our support for Toronto. We will also have a large sheet where folks can write their condolences to the victims. It will take place at 6pm on Wednesday, April 25th outside of Calgary’s City Hall. All are welcome and invited to drop by. We encourage everyone in attendance to keep in mind that this vigil will focus on solidarity in times of tragedy, and therefore we will not be asking any politicians to speak. We believe this is a time to hold space and honour those who lost their lives. We recognize that many factors and intersecting issues were at play that led to this incident, and there will be times and places to address those issues in the future; however, right now we would like to peacefully unite and pay our respects to the victims and their families.
We would also like to acknowledge this ceremony will be held on traditional Treaty 7 territory.
Arts Commons is proud to welcome the first artist to pilot their PREAMP Initiative: Iman Bukhari.
Iman is the founding member and CEO of our organization. She is using the one-week short-term residency at Arts Commons to create a multimedia art project titled WOC: A Sisterhood. This project is about the complicated relationship between feminine beauty, identity, and race (WOC meaning Women of Colour and also a play-on words of WOKE). This project builds on Iman's passion for social justice and the complex intersections of race. For her, this experiment is “about showing women of colour who are un-apologetically themselves… because it takes guts to be yourself.”
Join us on Sunday, April 22 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. in the Arts Learning Centre at Arts Commons for an informal open house, where you can see what Iman has been working on during the week. This is a FREE event, no tickets or RSVP is required.
Human language is constantly evolving. The way we speak and words we use change for many reasons including the changes in the environment we live in, to provide a better understanding or greater clarity, or changes in social norms and expectations. Sometimes, we don’t know how much our words can hurt other people or make them feel excluded. We need to educate ourselves and others on the meanings of words. The Inclusive Language Glossary (project: Language Decoded) is a guideline and education piece to help bring that awareness. We are decoding language to educate people by identifying the use of certain expressions or words that might exclude, discriminate, or hurt particular groups of people.
We are currently in the process of completing the content for our Inclusive Language glossary, which is a tool through which folks can learn about the words out there that are not inclusive, the reason why, and get alternative words to use instead.
We are looking for a dedicated, intuitive, and resourceful intern who can bring this project to life by April 2018. The intern will create a web application using https://slides.com/ to bring a unique way to present the information. This application does not require you to code, but is rather drag and drop based. We are ideally looking for an intern who is tech savvy and interested in design. We need someone who is organized and interested in digital design. You don't necessarily have to come from a coding background, but it will help if you do.
If you are interested, apply with examples of your work (design work). The intern working on this will be working virtually, but will be required to join in-person with our CEO and team from time to time. We need someone who can work independently and has an artistic vision.
The Society for the Advocacy of Safer Spaces (SASS), Canadian Cultural Mosaic Foundation and Calgary Sexual Health Centre are very proud to present Safer Venue Con, a conference by the community, for the community.
Join us for a day filled with opportunities to learn how to make your workplace safer and more inclusive. This free conference is open to anyone who works in nightlife including: servers, bartenders, bouncers, owners, managers and promoters. Basically, if you make money working in a space that serves alcohol - this event is for you.
This day of workshops will give you the chance to gather with peers from your industry to discuss a wide range of topics you currently face daily in your jobs: preventing sexual assault, ending racialized harassment and discrimination, and how to better serve the LGBTQ2+ communities in Calgary. You will end the day with new tools and skills that will empower you to confront these issues in your workplace and beyond. You will also be provided with a complimentary, tasty lunch from our sponsors at Sidewalk Citizen, and a goody bag of resources to help you carry your learning with you.
Workshop Details - register here
Creating a Colourful Nightlife (facilitated by Canadian Cultural Mosaic Foundation)
This interactive workshop explores the roots of racism in our society. Together we will look at the impacts of racism in our communities, in the nightlife world, and other settings. We will connect personal experiences of power and privilege to systemic racism. This event aims to provide participants with tangible tools to develop and strengthen their anti-racism lens.
Creating a Culture of Respect for Gender and Sexual Diversity (facilitated by Calgary Sexual Health Centre)
Building on the anti-homophobia work that Calgary Sexual Health Centre has been doing since the 1990s, this workshop defines and examines the differences between sex, gender, and sexual orientation. We discuss the root causes of homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, and heterosexism, while looking at both media messaging and our culturally constructed views of gender and the impact this can have on clients and coworkers. Participants will leave with practical strategies for creating a safer, more inclusive and respectful work environment. They will also learn about additional community resources and referrals.
Building a Safer Scene (facilitated by Calgary Sexual Health Centre)
This workshop is unique because it approaches this issue by exploring the negative cultural and social constructions of sexuality. Participants will explore current policies that address sexual harassment and will consider approaches to creating safer spaces for patrons and clients. We explore factors that may prevent people from intervening, strategies to address harassment, and highlight the roles of bystanders in the workplace. We will also discuss ways to support the person or people being affected by harassment. Participants will leave with practical tools that will prepare them to recognize when and how they can be active bystanders when witnessing acts of sexual violence.
We acknowledge Calgary as the traditional territory of the Blackfoot and the people of the Treaty 7 region in Southern Alberta, which includes the Siksika, the Piikani, the Kainai, the Tsuut’ina and the Ĩyãħé Nakoda First Nations, including the Chiniki, Bearspaw and Wesley First Nations. Calgary is also home to Métis Nation of Alberta, Region III.
Accessibility Information: The room in the Kahanoff Centre where this event is being held is accessible by elevator, and an all gender bathroom will be available on site.
Written by Mansharn Toor, Policy Analyst for Canadian Cultural Mosaic Foundation
Canadians in 2017 proudly waved their red and white flags, celebrated and cheered on fireworks to mark 150 years of the Canadian Confederation. For many Indigenous peoples, this year was a reminder of their resilience and the struggle that lies ahead. As we transition into the 151st year of Canada’s confederation, its important to look at actions that can help heal the nation.
The 150 Acts of Reconciliation for the Last 150 Days of Canada’s 150 written by Crystal Fraser and Sara Komarnisky, outlines 150 activities Canadians can do to “think about Indigenous-settler relationships in new ways.”
The #150Acts challenge is designed to confront settler colonialism by inviting people to consider their role. The #150Acts range from eating bannock to learning about the sophisticated and complex governing structures of Indigenous peoples. There are a number of action items that are easy to do, from the comfort of your warm sheets in bed. It is as simple as subscribing, retweeting or sharing content related to Indigenous governance and supporting Indigenous organizations. To mark the end of Canada’s 150th our team took the #150Acts of Reconciliation challenge.
Sedrii Nur, attended a Pow Wow ceremony where she experienced and engaged in the continuity and beauty of Cree culture, stating “our history isn't very kind when it comes to how hard settlers tried to assimilate [Indigenous peoples] so it was really good to see a group of people keeping their culture alive.” Nur, who lives in Treaty 6 region, also visited Native Delights, a well known Edmonton food truck that serves up delectable bannock burgers.
Others took the opportunity to research the significance of Two-Spirited individuals. Two-Spirited, is often a misunderstood term which refers to individuals who possess “both a feminine and masculine spirit” which as Hunzah Hayat describes “can encompass a wide variety of gender identities.” Others like Rick Alvarez, who never heard of the term, now knows not to conflate Two-Spirited with a person’s sexuality, rather it a social role that is unique to Indigenous peoples.
Another uniquely Indigenous tradition is the honour in wearing a headdress. The headdress, as with other harmful depictions of Indigenous identity, have been appropriated for costumes and festival wear. Many people, as Quais Amer states “don't mean to appropriate [cultures]” it is just that people “never do their research, which turns into ignorance.” For people, who genuinely want to celebrate the beauty of Indigenous cultures, âpihtawikosisân encourages people to buy and proudly wear beaded earrings, moccasins and beautify art by Indigenous peoples. Its important to note the significance of the headdress is, as is the Indigenous view point, which is very interconnected in complex and sophisticated governing structures. As Hayat discovered, Indigenous peoples had intricate land and fire management structures where fire was understood as “a part of healing the land, and thus used it to hunt and maintain the land.”
The impact of Indigenous Residential Schools, for Amer and Nur is a significant period of Canada’s recent history that cannot be understated. Nur, went as far as visiting a Residential era school in Saint Albert, Alberta. She summarizes the experience as such:
“[the school] is an 8 min drive from where I live. The school closed in 1966 which is still part of the century all of us were born in. Despite the attempt to try to assimilate first people; it's a display of their strength that they still have cultural gatherings (like pow wows) where they celebrate and embrace who they are. What a resilient group of people – respect.”
In fact, the last Indigenous Residential School to close was in 1996. The importance of taking the journey of reconciliation is vital to how we wish to shape the next 150 years. Whether it is simply discovering the traditional land you reside in, visiting your local museum or wearing an Orange T-shirt on September 30th, each step of reconciliation will take us a little closer to reframing the Indigenous-settler relationship. To learn more please visit the 150 Acts of Reconciliation and use the hashtag #150Acts to participate in the discussion and shape how we all participate and act upon reconciliation as intended by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Written by Mansharn Toor, Policy Analyst of Canadian Cultural Mosaic Foundation
The international refugee crisis, has until recently, not been on the radar of many Canadians. Canada’s unique geopolitical position shelters itself from having to deal with large waves of refugees seeking asylum. That is, until the border of Quebec witnessed 11,300 refugees entering by foot from the US. These individuals are worried that President Trump’s anti-refugee and anti-immigration policies will result in the forced removal of themselves and their families. The result of this influx has taken a burden on Montreal, wherein, the city has not prepared itself for a flow of migrants. A warning sign that many Canadians should prepare for, as our world is dealing with major security issues ranging from Climate Change to the spread of extremist groups.
This week, Prime Minister Trudeau took a stronger stance on refugees seeking asylum by stating that his government will not fast track those individuals who have crossed the border illegally. While, Trudeau is worried about his re-election in 2019, his government should not slow down the process of seeking asylum. The current crisis at Montreal speaks volumes, as Canada is ill prepared to respond to those fleeing persecution, terror or civil war.
The Haitians who are entering Canada through the US, are seeking safety because Canada and US have a Safe 3rd Country agreement. This agreement, in short, states that a refugee is required to request protection from the first safe country they arrive in. Because Canada’s borders are not as porous as European counterparts, the country has not had to resort to Ritsona like refugee camps. Advocates are calling for the Trudeau government to suspend the agreement, as more and more refugees are applying in Canada once being denied in the US. 3 days ago, Trump announced that his government would send Haitians back home. Many of whom, escaped due to environmental insecurity.
While many Canadians will point their fingers to Trump’s anti-immigration stance, as they should, lets reflect upon Canada’s inaction. Often only 1 in 200 refugees who formally apply are selected by a developed country. This leaves many refugees in limbo as they fear for their lives. Refugees awaiting the decision on their application for asylum in refugee camps are crippled as they cannot work, gain citizenship, or attend school. At this moment, Europe, Australia, Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan have felt the brunt of the burden. In Europe, $35 USD is spent per asylum seeker and in Canada that number is about $48 USD. On the face of these numbers, Canada seems to be doing better. However, if you compare and contrast the rate at which Canada is welcoming refugees with that of European countries, the spending starts to look pathetic.
Prime Minister Trudeau, began his tenure, with tear jerking photo-ops as he welcomed 40,000 Syrian families into Canada and with the hashtag #welcomerefugees. While, nations with a smaller GDP, like Sweden have welcomed over 67,000 refugees in 2016 from Syria, Eretria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Like Sweden, Canada’s international identity is that of peace keepers. A role that the previous administration was reluctant to commit too, as Harper’s regime reduced the number of international troops and openly disliked the UN. Prime Minister Trudeau in 2015 ran a campaigned to reinstating Canada’s role as a peace keeper and a part of that role includes welcoming refugees who are seeking asylum.
Canada’s population, continues to worry economists and population specialist, as the rate of growth is not as fast as some would hope. While, many who align themselves with the anti-immigrant sentiment will argue that jobs, housing and social security will breakdown upon welcoming new Canadians, I am here to say, rather immigrants throughout history have contributed to the development and identity of the nation. That is not to say Canada shouldn’t prepare itself for a rise in refugee and migrant claims by investing in affordable housing, removing restrictions for immigration and by investing in social services to help the transition. To close our borders and remove hope, as Trudeau has done this week, contributes to an unsafe and vulnerable world.