Kootenay Employment Services hosted Community Dialogue: Racism and Cross Cultural Awareness on March 21, thanks to a grant from EmbraceBC.
Creston Mayor Ron Toyota signed a proclamation declaring March 21 as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in Creston. Lower Kootenay Band Coun. Anne Jimmie opened the event by reciting the Serenity Prayer in the K’tunaxa language. Regional District of Central Kootenay Area C director Larry Binks who contributed financially to the event and welcomed all the participants, stating that discrimination is “hurtful and unnecessary.”
KES engaged David Diamond, co-founder of Theatre for Living in Vancouver, to present a forum for dialogue.
He started by saying, “It’s not possible to eliminate discrimination. We are exposed to it from birth.”
He then proceeded to create a safe environment that encouraged dialogue and led to individual awareness for many of the 75 Creston and area residents and 10 persons from Vancouver to Valemount who attended. There was consensus among participants that more dialogue around cross-cultural awareness is wanted in Creston.
The Lower Kootenay Band has started this process by hosting an aboriginal film series at the Snoring Sasquatch. A movie is shown and then Chief Jason Louie, Angie Louie and other Lower Kootenay Band members welcome questions from the audience, which leads to educating residents about the First Nations culture. The next film is being presented at the Snoring Sasquatch at 6 p.m. April 14. Admittance is by donation.
Sponsorship from Columbia Basin Trust, REACH and the BC Centre for Employment Excellence for enabled attendees from outside our area to attend. Employment service providers from around our region attended a session at KES the day before the main event to discuss best practices in working with diverse cultures. Many stayed to participate in the community dialogue the following day.
If you have ideas on how to educate others about your culture, don’t be afraid to take the lead.
—KOOTENAY EMPLOYMENT SERVICES