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PEI chapter holds workshp on racism and discrimination

PEI chapter

Sarah Tamula and Nouhad Mourad

The Council of Canadians PEI chapter held a workshop on Saturday Feb. 27 about racism and discrimination.

The Guardian reports, “Creating a discussion and raising awareness was the purpose behind the ‘transcending racism and discrimination’ workshop hosted by the Council of Canadians P.E.I. Chapter and the province’s Black Cultural Society at Murphy’s Community Centre Saturday. About 65 people took part in the workshop that began with a panel discussion, including [Zain] Esseghaier [of the Muslim Society of P.E.I.] and Julie Pellissier-Lush of the Mi’kmaq Family Resource Centre. The panel also included Dante Bazard, Donisha Been and Keyshawn Bonamy of the Caribbean Society at UPEI.”

“The workshop saw panellists present before participants were split into small groups for discussion. The workshop ended with a large group discussion on how to make P.E.I. a more inclusive province. Organizer Sarah Tamula, a member of both host groups, said the workshop was encouraging and saw several recurring themes. One common suggestion was calling for more public education around the histories of different racial groups. ‘If people have the history, there’s a lesser likelihood of discrimination and more understanding of where everyone is coming from’, said Tamula.”

The article adds, “Tamula said many involved Saturday felt the discussion has to continue, especially with many refugees and newcomers now immigrating to Canada. She said while P.E.I. is small, it has a unique opportunity of embracing diversity and that the council may continue to host similar workshops in the future to dig deeper into the issue. ‘Everyone felt the discussion has to continue. There’s a lot of potential and hopefully this will lead to various groups in the community discussing it further’, she said. ‘We need to be proactive and not be scared of talking about race. If we don’t talk about it, we can’t address any of these issues.'”

On Dec. 10, 2015, the PEI chapter also organized a rally to confront Islamophobia and racism.

Just prior to that, CBC reported, “Nouhad Mourad and Sarah Tamula are members of the Council of Canadians and are organizing a rally in support of Muslims and refugees in front of Province House in a couple of weeks, as well as a series of workshops aimed at helping the public understand and accept newcomers. …Some of Mourad’s extended family are refugees who were forced out of their homes in Syria and are waiting in hopes of being accepted into Canada. …Sarah Tamula, whose husband immigrated here from Malawi, worries about her family [being welcome on the Island given their background].”

And on Feb. 17, the chapter and Cinema Politica Charlottetown organized a screening of the film ‘500 Years Later’.

Tamula told us that about 50 people were at the screening and posted, “Thank you to all that came to the screening – powerful film – powerful conversation. May the dialogue continue. If you weren’t able to make it, I really recommend it. It will change your perspective.” The documentary has been described as follows, “Told from the African-vantage point, …500 Years Later is a timeless compelling journey, infused with the spirit and music of liberation that chronicles the struggle of a people who have fought and continue to fight for the most essential human right – freedom.”

The Council of Canadians supports diversity and inclusion, and rejects racism and Islamophobia. In Sept. 2015, Council of Canadians chapters in Kamloops, Chilliwack, Victoria, Quill Plains, South Niagara, Ottawa, London, Charlottetown, Fredericton and St. John’s took part in #RefugeesWelcome rallies. On Jan. 21, the Council of Canadians Peterborough chapter co-sponsored a book launch for Colonial Extractions: Race and Canadian Mining in Contemporary Africa and Canada In Africa: 300 Years of Aid and Exploitation. On Feb. 23, the chapter also co-hosted a public forum on the structural, systemic and cultural barriers to inclusion alongside End Immigration Detention Peterborough and the Community and Race Relations Committee of Peterborough.

Further reading
The Council of Canadians learns about environmental racism in Detroit (Oct. 27, 2015)
Montreal chapter to hold public forum on Indigenous rights (Jan. 31, 2016)