A couple weeks ago I attended the Victoria Conference on Diversity and Inclusion and it was great. I’ve wanted to write about it and outline the ideas that were brought up, but I unfortunately cannot match the eloquence of the speakers at the forum. And thus deadlock on writing.
Instead I’ll sum up: Don’t be an ass.
In all seriousness the forum spoke to and beyond issues on inclusivity. This has been something that I have had a hard time speaking to people about because so often the conversation gets shut down. It rarely gets to go beyond: “Canada is a colonial state and should disappear.” This obviously is a useless response, but whenever someone tries to go past that initial response the walls of political correctness come up.* This just makes everyone angry.
But the conference asked the hard questions and went beyond the easy answer. It did not linger on past wrongs because these leaders are looking to the future. The future of: nation to nation relationships, environmental issues, technology, and the economy.
My one criticism was that the forum focused entirely on race. There was maybe one speaker that addressed socio-economic inclusion and ageism, and everyone looked at him like he was a nut. In our house we often talk about how in Canada there is vastly different people and they never get heard. The poor, the youth, and the rural. (Often indigenous people can fall into all three categories, go figure). Not to say that race isn’t an issue it obviously is, but focusing on a single race seems inefficient. I think it could be better to address some issues not from a racial perspective. (Excepting education and other cultural policies. It’s damnably criminal that indigenous people get less funding per child.) The voices of these three types of people rarely get heard.
At the forum there was a First Nations man who was: young, from the BC interior, and probably not from the wealthiest of communities. He was upset that despite being involved in politics and the community no one listened to him. He blamed it on his indigeneity. I believe that that was part of it, but he was also a young emotional man and society does not like young men right now. I think that even if a person was able to look past his race they would get caught up in his sex and age. Because he also experienced racism throughout his life its all the same to him, but I think he got screwed by multiple prejudices.
But the conference was hopeful. All the speakers (except the one talking about socio-economic issues) left off on a positive note, that “it is hard, but things are getting better.” I also left more invigorated and happy about inclusivity than ever before.
* I actually think political correctness is a good thing, it is often just good manners. I vehemently dislike that it has become a tool to shut down conversation about hard issues. Difficult conversations need to happen so people can grow, understand, and be empathetic.