Conversation series starts with poverty, health discussions
JENNIFER DOERKSEN, CONTRIBUTOR
Local activists are making sure Winnipeg won’t maintain its label as Canada’s most racist city for another year.
13 Fires is a year-long conversation series. Each month, participants will talk about a specific issue that’s meant to spark critical discussions to combat racism. The concept of the series was inspired by Our Summit, held fall 2015 at The Forks.
“It’s very intimate,” said Charles Crow, a 26-year-old University of Winnipeg student. “How do you approach the concept of race? It can have the same amount of depth to how you talk about it.”
Each event invites all Winnipeggers to talk about how they relate to racism and what can be done to stop it.
“I feel like the open dialogue thing would help a lot because we could get everyone’s input on it and have a big discussion of what people’s problems are,” said Kiana Baudry, a student in RRC’s recreational work program.
The series launched Dec. 12 with a conversation about what issues mattered most to participants. Thirteen topics were brought forward to address individually over the course of the year including child welfare, healthcare, policing and justice, media representation and food security.
The launch event, like Our Summit, started with a group activity. Participants had to introduce themselves to someone new. The organizers asked people to pair off with a stranger and discuss personal things like their family or favourite cultural tradition.
The first fire happened on Jan. 23 and discussed poverty. February’s fire doesn’t have a set date yet, but the group there will discuss health.
Organizer Anny Chen said the series uses open-space technology, a method of group work that gives participants a chance to lead discussion.
“We need spaces like this,” Fadi Ennab, 31, said at the launch event. “There’s systemic issues that are hard to address, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t start.”
Mandela Kuet, 38, was hesitant before beginning the group activities, but recognized its importance.
“The hardest part right now is those ice breakers, talking to people, but it’s important we bridge those gaps,” Kuet said.