My Experience at the S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Forum (Feb. 22, 2017)
On Wednesday, February 22, 2017, S.U.C.C.E.S.S. held a community forum where people were invited to discussion racial discrimination against immigrants.
Especially in light of what is happening in the U.S. after the presidential election, this topic is needed in opening up venues for people to voice their thoughts and to propose plans of action to counteract racial discrimination.
Unfortunately, B.C. is no stranger to racial discrimination. On November 2016, in Richmond where the population is predominantly Chinese, flyers had been distributed around the neighbourhood, promoting xenophobia and racial discrimination against Chinese.
There were many guest speakers: among them were Dr. Gurdeep Parhar, Chief Dr. Robert Joseph, and Senator Yuen Pao Woo. But the guest speaker whose speech hit closest to home for me was Canada's Ambassador to Norway, Artur Wilczynski.
He was unbelievably charismatic and engaging with his words and I found myself drawn to his story as he spoke about his life: he was born in Poland but his family had been forced from their home twice. They moved to Montreal where he grew up. He spoke about his work as the Ambassador to Norway:
And one of his slides (which, to my regret, I did not manage to take a picture of) really captured the soul and spirit of the Canadian identity: it had images of the Polish flag, the Montreal flag, the Star of David, the LGBTQ symbol.
And with another click, the Canadian flag slid into view on the Powerpoint.
This is what is meant to be Canadian: it's a conglomeration of different identities that make up a single individual. It's facets and edges and angles that all come together to make not just a Canadian citizen but a human being.
I felt like the forum was a good start in raising questions for people to ponder in terms of our position against racism. The forum was filled with adults but there were at least two elementary school classes who were also in attendance.
What I found most fulfilling was how the forum opened the floor to the audience to participate in the discussion whether it was through an online platform where audience members could submit questions that could be up for discussion or when they were invited to raise their hands and offer solutions to racial discrimination.
The elementary school children had insightful thoughts and questions that spoke to how deeply invested they were in the issue of discrimination. And for me, that was the point where I felt the most hopeful about our future: that no matter how bleak everything seemed, it wouldn't be forever.
Things can and will change.