Vancouver-based Sam Bradd of Drawing Change documents the discussion during a diversity forum held at the Central Cariboo Arts and Culture Society Centre in Williams Lake March 12.

Vancouver-based Sam Bradd of Drawing Change documents the discussion during a diversity forum held at the Central Cariboo Arts and Culture Society Centre in Williams Lake March 12.

Diversity forum to translate into mural

An embracing our identity forum held in Williams Lake March 12 challenged participants to think about what makes a community inclusive.

An embracing our identity forum held in Williams Lake March 12 challenged participants to think about what makes a community inclusive — inclusive for individuals and for the community as a whole.

PeerNetBC’s executive director Iris Yong led the forum, engaging participants in a series of exercises and discussions.

At one point she placed a small plastic elephant on the floor in the middle of the room.

“That represents the elephant in the room,” Yong said. “The hidden agendas, secrets, things that inhibit us from creating shared understanding.”

Yong challenged participants to notice who has the power in the room and in the community.

“There are three types of power,” she said. “Personal, positional and overarching or systematic.”

There are layers of power, and situations people have no control over. And power is often defined by media, space, and health.

One of the exercises involved a coloured dot on the cheek of each person in the room.

Participants closed their eyes, had a dot placed on their right or left cheek, and then were asked to open their eyes and form into groups without talking.

Most people grouped themselves by one of the four colours, although two people went further and grouped themselves according to the fact their blue dots were on the same side of their faces.

Yong said in other situations people grouped themselves as a rainbow, ensuring each group had one of each colour. Some people like the Williams Lake participants grouped themselves according to the what side of the cheek the dots were on.

“There was a group of teenagers that didn’t move from their places. When I asked how they’d grouped themselves, one  brave soul answered ‘by laziness’.”

From there participants broke up into small groups to discuss one word in what Yong termed the “staircase to oppression.”

Words such as experiences, stereotype, prejudice, discrimination and privilege were defined by the groups.

Yong suggested there is no such thing as a “good stereotype” because while they may sound good, they are always a generalization.

Homelessness worker Wayne Lucier recalled his childhood in a rural Metis town in Manitoba.

He attended a grades 1 – 9 school and did not realize he was Metis until that small school shut down and he went to a larger school.

“The teacher told me I was probably going to turn out like all the rest of us. I didn’t even know what she meant,” Lucier said.

Yong is a Chinese Canadian and grew up with the stereotype that “all Asians are good at math.”

She wasn’t good at math, she said. On top of that, people are never sure of her ethnicity to begin with.

“I’m asked if I’m First Nations, Filipino or Asian all the time,” she said.

The Fraser Basin Council hosted the forum and plans to use the information generated by participants for planning a diversity mural project.

Around 30 people attended the forum, ranging from elementary school age to retired.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
36 new cases of COVID-19, one death in Interior Health

The number of active cases in the region is at 366

The City of Williams Lake is asking for public feedback on whether it should explore the opportunity to host a Greater Metro Hockey League team in Williams Lake. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Williams Lake GMHL expansion questions, concerns, to be discussed later this month

If approved, the team would begin play in the fall of 2021

Cariboo Memorial Hospital emergency doctor Sarah Dressler comes off a night shift on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Our Hometown: The doctor is in the house

Cariboo Memorial Hospital emergency doctor Sarah Dressler was born and raised in Williams Lake

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne speaks in the B.C. legislature, March 4, 2021. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals, NDP sing in harmony on local election reforms

Bill regulates paid canvassers, allows people in condo buildings

(National Emergency Management Agency)
No tsunami risk to B.C. from powerful New Zealand earthquake: officials

An 8.1 magnitude earthquake shook the north of New Zealand Thursday morning

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
Pandemic stress, isolation key factors as to why Canadians turned to cannabis, alcohol

Study found that isolation played key role in Canadians’ substance use

(File photo)
Kamloops Mountie bitten while arresting woman

The assault on March 1 is the latest in a string of incidents that have left local officers injured

Grand Forks’ Gary Smith stands in front of his Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster float. Photo: Submitted
Grand Forks’ Flying Spaghetti Monster leader still boiling over driver’s licence photo

Gary Smith, head of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster of B.C., said he has since spoken to lawyers

A Cowichan Valley mom is wondering why masks haven’t been mandated for elementary schools. (Metro Creative photo)
B.C. mom frustrated by lack of mask mandate for elementary students

“Do we want to wait until we end up like Fraser Health?”

Most Read