13 Fires panel encourages racial diversity and inclusion in education
Saz Massey, CONTRIBUTOR
Racial inclusion and diversity lacking in the city’s educational system was the main focus at a panel discussion that 13 Fires Winnipeg hosted.
13 Fires Winnipeg is a grassroots group of people wanting to address racism in our city. They held the discussion, focusing on racism in education, at R. B. Russel High School on Oct. 29.
Anny Chen, one of the event organizers, introduced the event by creating a safe space to facilitate learning.
“If you don’t get out of your comfort zone and ask questions, even if you sound ignorant, you won’t learn or break your thought patterns,” she said.
The panel included six people between the ages of 10 to 58 who were at different stages of their education. They discussed their experiences of racial inclusion in the education system, and they agreed that the current curriculum caters to certain students, while leaving others feeling marginalized.
Dalili King, 21, described the racism he experienced in Winnipeg schools after moving from Uganda in a break-out discussion group. He said he wanted to be a lawyer, but an educator doubted his ability and dashed his dreams.
“When teachers give up on us, we give up on ourselves,” King said.
Janine Twoheart,19, a business administration student at Red River College, said she noticed racism at the high school level. She said the prejudice was experienced student-to-student, but teachers were passive.
“Educators wouldn’t go out of their way to stop racism,” Twoheart said.
13 Fires has a plan to help the discussion reach a broader audience.
“This grassroots organization is going to make change happen,” said Chen. “Sharing the report with the government is going to hold them accountable.”
She said 13 Fires Winnipeg is creating a working report of all discussions taking place this year.