On the International Day to Eliminate Racial Discrimination the Edmonton Interfaith Centre for Education and Action invited JHC to share its experiences with research and programming addressing racial discrimination in Edmonton. Angelica Quesada, JHC staff member, Louise P. and Roxanne U. attended this celebration and shared their experiences in building Righting Relations:
When thinking about the significance of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in local context, the conversation in our office took us to reflect on how JHC’s programing and research in the last few years has reaffirmed the existence in Alberta of a strong link between Poverty, marginalization and racialized communities.
In this province racism manifests through systemic structures and policies that further marginalized racial or ethnic groups as the Child Care and Welfare system and Justice system do to Indigenous children, but also racism is the reality of the daily discrimination of racialized individuals who are inexplicably and constantly followed by security in stores, being kicked out of public places because of their racial complexion or association, or being frequently questioned by authorities just because of the way they look. The way they look is associated with crime and danger to the public. Many communities are not treated equally.
Thus, today we want to highlight the work of one of the networks in which we take part, because it has become for us an alternative on how to oppose racism and discrimination and build relationships in new and different ways. At JHC opposing and eliminating racism should not lose sights of the systemic issues or the daily life manifestations of discrimination, and we have found out that that is exactly what Righting Relation is allowing us. Righting Relations is a powerful, women-led, pan-canadian network of which JHC is part. Righting Relations strives to build the capacity of adult educators and grass root organizers to create radical change in their communities and it can be described as the best anti-colonial, anti-racism training and space of learning I have attended. The learning and capacity building happens at regional and local sharing circles where barriers between individuals who mobilize, organize, and advocate for their communities have come down. Where the racialized immigrant experience, or the Indigenous peoples struggles and strengths, and the pride and continuous oversight of people living with disabilities has been shared at both the systemic level and the personal experience. The intersections and the realities that systemic issues bring to people’s’ lives are educative, powerful and promote collective responses and new ways of personal relations. Righting Relations makes us look into our shared humanity to re-connect us and understand us in different ways outside the structures that manage our differences, while allowing us to support each other when opposing racism and discrimination in our daily jobs and lives. Thus we not only understand how we all have our personal challenges, but also how are they connected at the systemic level.
In the Righting Relations (RR) circles we have created a collective spirit of support through our guidelines which encourage listening rather than condemning, criticizing rather than judging. SOLUTIONS arrived at through the art of active listening, build the momentum of the collective spirit and keep it strong. By actively LISTENING to each other’ experiences, stories, perceptions and perspectives we are able to UNDERSTAND, and that increases our ability to become more compassionate. All preconceived biases, beliefs, opinions and prejudices melt away like mist in the morning sunshine. A fact that is well known is that the CRITICAL MASS achieves the goal whether it is world Peace, and end to violence, wars, hatred, abuse of power, position and privilege, elimination of prejudices, poverty, homelessness and marginalization of those seen as minority groups such as the ‘disabled’, and the homeless, the low or no income, the immigrants, the Indigenous people and more.
The collective spirit/consciousness of the critical mass affects all people everywhere whether or not those people are participating in the RR Listening Circles. As conscious awareness grows or … increases its momentum, within the groups across Canada it spreads out to the masses around the world. It can be delayed though it cannot be halted’ When the time for the betterment, uplifting of social conditions has come it cannot be stopped.
At one time in the history of our Canada it spreads out to the masses around the world has come it cannot be stopped. At one time in the history or our Canada the Europeans such as the Polish, the Ukrainians, the Aboriginals and the black people bore the brunt of violence through prejudice. Now many of those people are in prominent positions in society. Though the prejudices are still acting to some degree, Indigenous people are taking government position, careers in the medical field, in aviation and education. The spirit/consciousness of people always seeks of the people always seeks improvement personally and collectively.