Lloydminster residents are invited to hear the stories and learn from a diverse group of people that make up the community.
Connecting Us All: Diversity and Inclusion Forum 2021 is a virtual event open to anyone and will celebrate the diversity within the city and surrounding area. Co-organizers Kemoh Mansaray and Tigra-Lee Campbell have brought together locals from a wide-variety of backgrounds to share their stories of success and struggle and discuss topics centred around diversity and inclusion.
“It’s about how connected we are and how interdependent we are,” Mansaray says. “The challenges and struggles of one directly or indirectly affects all of us. When we come together as a community and support one another, we can try and make a change and prosper.”
He says education will be at the forefront of the event and hopes it will lead to changing the misconceptions around immigrants, Indigenous people, race and inequality.
Lakeland College School of Business Chair Ben Acquaye is the keynote speaker and panelists include Lloydfest organizer Susan Cambridge. Mansaray adds having recognizable faces residents may see everyday as part of their panel helps make the messages and stories more impactful.
“The aspects of what we are trying to [talk about] is not far away from us. It is actually within us and what we can do as locals to make a change and make our communities more welcoming and appreciate the diversity we have. These are stories that will not only educate Canadian-born, but also immigrants and Indigenous people. They are going to learn about the challenges and how to overcome them to be who they are today.”
The forum will also feature multicultural performances from local groups as well as a virtual KAIROS blanket exercise and a follow-up Q&A session on Sunday. Mansaray says learning more about Indigenous history was highly requested by participants in last year’s forum.
The exercise uses blankets as a visual representation of the country as participants go through the history of colonization, the redistribution of Indigenous peoples and lands and the generational impacts.
Campbell helped organize the exercise in Vermilion, with aid from Asokanihkewak, during the summer. She says the virtual format is uncharted territory for them, but they are excited to bring the emotional learning experience to more people in the community.
“My goal is to bring education and awareness to our participants and the people watching. I feel like a lot of these facts are only half known. The blanket exercise can’t encompass everything, but I think it does go into so much detail that a lot of people have these aha moments where they may have known some of this information, but not all of it.”
The forum will be held virtually on January 16 and 17 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is a free online event.