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U of C offering anti-Indigenous racism workshop series to community

By Kimberly Taylor, June 16 2024—

University of Calgary’s Office of Indigenous Engagement will be offering a free two day workshop series from June 19-20 to the Calgary community focused on developing a deeper understanding  of and skills to disrupt anti-Indigenous racism. The series is offered several times throughout the year and is open to both Indigenous and non-Indigenous members of the community.

In an interview with the Gauntlet, Gerald Ratt, specialist – Indigenous intercultural initiatives with the Office of Indigenous Engagement, explained that the workshop series is built around four foundational modules all of which have supporting videos produced with a grant from Alberta Culture and Tourism.

“The anti-Indigenous racism workshop series consists of four modules , Historical Racism, Systemic Racism, Personal Stories of Racism and Allyship and Towards Being a Good Relative. It is up to five hours of in person learning with a variety of activities, discussion, and reflection.”

Ratt spoke about the goals of the series include addressing the barrier of racism, establishing cultural safety and moving toward a personal practice of cultural humility.

“There is an urgent need to address racism and strategically move into potential solutions to address this barrier” Ratt said, “The goal of the series is addressing the barrier of racism itself while establishing a welcoming, inclusive, and culturally safe campus community for Indigenous peoples.” 

“To achieve cultural safety we must move beyond cultural competency, where one must practice cultural humility and that is a process.”

Ratt highlighted the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report and calls to action were the impetus for the development of this series.

“If we want to move towards meaningful reconciliation then the truth must be addressed. Racism exists, it exists here on campus, it exists in the city, it exists in the province, in this country. We need to continue to have these challenging conversations.”

Additionally, Ratt spoke about the challenging nature of this workshop series, and the responsibility our community has to address racism.

“The labour of this work is very emotionally taxing for myself and for Indigenous peoples.” Ratt said. “It takes meaningful action and a community to support transformational change. I can’t do this work alone. It’s going to take all of us to address anti-Indigenous racism.” Ratt continued, “It’s a collective responsibility to end racism.”

Ratt highlighted that the series aims to equip people with not only a new awareness and understanding around anti-Indigenous racism, but also the role they can play in combating racism in our community.

“I hope that all participants walk away with a better understanding of the roots of racism and how racism has been transported through colonialism. Racism was constructed by white people and needs to be deconstructed by white people. Racism is a system of power and privilege and it has been designed to disempower and oppress the BIPOC community. I want people to gain an understanding of their own personal responsibility and positionality to a healthier and safe community and what role do they play or not to mitigate racism?”

Ratt also explained that participating in a workshop series centered on anti-Indigenous racism can help normalize discussions around racism.

“We need to normalize these types of conversations, especially around anti-Indigenous racism. It takes courage to participate in these workshops because of the sensitivity and emotions that arise, but we learn and grow from discomfort. We can no longer dismiss or avoid these types of conversations. This a perfect opportunity to come in and learn and engage and share experiences.”

Ratt shared that there are opportunities to facilitate for those who have participated in the workshop series, and that if anyone is interested in taking action to sign up.

“I encourage people if they are interested in action for change or reconciling, join us.”

For more information about the workshop series visit the website. Registration is available here. Ratt can be contacted for more information about becoming a facilitator.

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