Huron County aims to combat racism with new panel series
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
Huron County is undertaking several anti-racism initiatives through its Huron County Immigration Partnership, scheduled to roll out early next year.
County Immigration Partnership Co-ordinator Kristin Crane presented the report at Huron County Council’s Dec. 16 meeting. Crane told council that the Immigration Partnership Council met in June and decided that the county needed a more targeted approach to anti-racism in the county.
As a result, the council formed the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Working Group the following month with the goal of creating and implementing a strategy to increase the public’s knowledge of equity, diversity and inclusion while advocating for systemic change at the organizational level. In addition, Crane said the group would actively challenge racism.
The first initiative created by the group is a four-part panel series aimed at engaging rural audiences on inclusiveness, equity and the value of diversity. A collaboration with Goderich’s FauxPop Media, the panel series would seek to include local and regional panelists with lived experiences and varied perspectives, while addressing a variety of themes to build awareness.
Working with regional experts in the field, like Dr. Nita Tyler-Mosby of the Denver Institute, Leroy Hibbert of London Urban Services Organization (LUSO) Community Services, Andrea Moffatt of DiverCity Consultants and Dharshi Lacey of Pillar Nonprofit Network, the first two installments in the panel series are scheduled to be released in January. The final two will follow in February.
The first installment, scheduled to be released in mid-January, will be “Answering Why it Matters in Rural Ontario”. In it, community and business leaders discuss the value diversity and inclusion adds to the community and asks how the county can be a welcoming community. Panelists will be Nevien Ibrahim, Gemma Mendez-Smith, John Grace and Leanna Kavanaugh.
The second installment will be “A Conversation about Awareness”, asking how unconscious bias, xenophobia and micro-aggressions reveal themselves and how members of the Muslim community have experienced such barriers.
Panelists will be Sarah Shafiq, Aruba Mahmud and Rana Telfah with a late-January release planned.
The third installment, scheduled for release in mid-February, will be entitled, “A Conversation about Privilege”, asking how privilege and systemic racism appear and about some of the lived experiences of young, racialized newcomers.
Panelists include Awil Abdullahi, Hoda Al-Obaidi, Ted Doherty and Kate Ballagh-Steeper.
The final installment, set for release in late February, is called “A Conversation about Equity”, asking what the difference is between equity and equality and how members of the Indigenous and Black communities have experienced systemic barriers to equity.
Panelists will be Patsy Day, Matthew Dawkins, Kendrew Jacobs, Dr. Miriam Klassen and Jana Bayer-Smith.
Crane said the intended outcomes of the series are to stimulate community engagement in further action, influence people’s empathy and understanding of individuals with lived experience, make it comfortable to have respectful conversations about differences and to offer education, to allow people to acknowledge, name and recognize the different terms shared in the series.
Crane also said the working group will be collaborating with the Huron County Library system to further these discussions with corresponding literature and resources available locally.
Huron County Warden and Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh Mayor Glen McNeil, in his first full meeting as warden, said this work was important for Huron County. In addition, he said it was important for members of Huron County Council to lead by example and make it clear that racism has no place in the community.