Diversity brings varied perspectives to any organization or project. It includes people with a wide range of life experience. Diversity may refer to religion, race, age, abilities, socio-economic or education status, gender identity, sexual orientation, culture, ethnicity, neurodiversity and varied life experiences including being a refugee or immigrating to a new home under less urgent circumstances.
Inclusion enables full participation of every person in organizations and events. It means equal access to education and other resources and equal opportunity to be employed. It means equal access to health care, clean water and safety during emergencies. And it also means intentionally including people with varied world views based on their culture and life experience.
Diversity and inclusion together result in teams that are highly creative and innovative. Leaders who are able to draw out the unique perspectives of all team members develop new approaches and solve problems faster and more effectively. This section honours the 8th Unitarian Principle: Individual and communal action that accountably dismantles racism and systemic barriers to full inclusion in ourselves and our institutions. It reminds us that as Unitarians, we are actively learning to be anti-racist.
Racism is a persistent problem in Canada. It is both overt and subtle, and is ingrained within the systems and practices of institutions like the justice system, health system and other public services, like schools, workplaces, and government — this is not new. The facts were known decades ago, in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s… In 2015, Maclean’s did an analysis comparing “Aboriginal Canadians and African-Americans.” https://www.macleans.ca/news/canada/out-of-sight-out-of-mind-2/
Since 2020, the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, hate crimes against Asian Canadians have risen 97 percent in Vancouver alone, and more than 800 racist incidents have been reported across Canada.
Within the Canadian justice system, Indigenous Peoples are the most disproportionately overrepresented population. In Toronto, Black Torontonians are 20 times more likely to be shot by police than white residents. In classrooms across Canada, more than half of students who identify as visible minorities have reported being the victim of racist taunts.
It is time to recognize and reject racism and work together toward positive race relations.
What can WE do?
- RECOGNIZE RACISM. Indigenous, Asian, and Black racism is so common in our Canadian society that we often do not even notice it. And let’s not forget that as Unitarians we respect the spiritual practices of all people whether Muslim, Jewish, Indigenous, or others.
- Review the anti-racism resources provided by the Multi Cultural Council of Saskatchewan.
- Participate in an interactive 30-minute e-course on racism in Canada, with emphasis on Ontario—Lots of photos make it interesting!
- Listen carefully to what racism feels like and how damaging it can be to people willing to help make Canada better. Nunavut sent a young woman MP to Ottawa. This moving video explains how security staff and others made her feel unwelcome in the House of Commons. Racism in Canada HURTS.
- SPEAK UP—REJECT RACISM. When you hear a racist comment, take a breath to stay calm … and then ASK what experience the person had in their life that gave them the idea they have just expressed. Share that your experience is different. Start a dialogue.
- CHOOSE TO ACT DIFFERENTLY—Whether at home or at work, a different approach might yield different results.
- DONATE—TAKE ACTION AGAINST HATE!
- Support Indigenous-led charities, particularly women’s groups. Show up at their public events.
- Become a member of the Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan and take part in their anti-racism work.
- Donate to the Unitarian Fellowship of Regina Inc. It is working to reduce racism in our community. Right now, our primary tools are:
- Your Donations will help us continue working together with others to build a better tomorrow.
- LEARN MORE—LISTEN to those with lived experience.
- Pass the Mic—Let’s talk about Racism – 3 unique stories produced by the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. (14 min). This video encourages youth to consider their relationship with racism and learn how to be anti‐racist. Through video conversations with three diverse Canadians, people will understand what it means to pass the microphone to others. We all have a role to play in creating an anti‐racist society.
- Connect. Heal. Learn. February 2023: Black Sheros fighting for racial equity (43 min). This video honours Black female leaders in Austin Texas who are empowering their communities and working for racial equity. “Yes we are different…our life experience is different.” Representation is key.
Environmental racism is a type of systematic discrimination that links race and socio-economic status with increased environmental risk. Ecological justice cannot be separated from race in Canada. Exposure to hazardous waste and environmental pollution, and prejudiced zoning decisions directly impact quality of life and the health of marginalized communities in this country.
For example, environmental racism is present in:
- the toxic landfills placed near the Black Nova Scotian communities of Shelburne and Lincolnville
- the mercury poisoning in Grassy Narrows First Nation
- the impacts of fossil fuel extraction across Canada
- the health and livelihoods threatened by the Mount Polley Mine disaster
- the boil-water advisories that persist in First Nations communities
The lack of clean drinking water in First Nations communities is a violation of the human right to water and sanitation.
What can WE do?
- Equitable access to clean drinking water for all requires not only long-term recommitment and financial resources, but also self-government to achieve solutions that are culturally appropriate as well as scientifically correct. Working together, we can resolve the problems and achieve clean water in all communities.
- ASK your MP to join other MPS to influence how we work cooperatively with First Nations people to solve the remaining complex water problems and achieve clean water for all Canadians