CACD Community Forum Wrap-up
Amna Mohammed

Hey readers!

I want to discuss the incredible Community Forum that took place at the Mississauga Valley Community Centre hosted by Ron and Sonia Cunningham.

CACD hosts community forums annually and this year it was in-person and was a great turnout with meaningful discussions. The topic was Racism, Discrimination, Prejudice and Hate Crime, which is a very strong and difficult topic to discuss for many people. The kind and encouraging environment of CACD allowed for a deeper and more open discussion with the panellists and audience. The forum focused on the challenges that BIPOC youth face such as access to mental health resources, barriers in the education and employment sector, and police interaction and why these issues occur including the root causes of systemic racism and social determinants of health.

Did you know that 43% of hate crimes in 2017 were motivated by hatred of race or ethnicity? Or that racialized Canadians earn an average of 81 cents to the dollar compared to other Canadians. Or that employers are about 40% more likely to interview a job applicant with an English-sounding name despite identical education, skills, and experience? We need to talk about this and that is what CACD did.

The first forum was held on April 13th and featured the panellists: Amna Mohammed, Karan Wadhwa, Renne Wallace, Fatima Samji, Rajpreet Lotay, Brennan Bempong and Wintson LaRose, Host Ron Cunningham, Moderator Len Carby, and Evaluators Dr. Julian Hasford and Kisha Goode Each panellist came from a different career, whether it was a student, mental health worker, or entrepreneur – they are all people of colour and who are victims of discrimination. Each panellist was asked a question by the facilitator and answered based on their knowledge and lived experience. The discussion was strong and lively and most importantly relatable. In the end, the audience was given time to ask questions to the panellist, where there were so many wonderful questions and not enough time leftover. The first forum was a wonderful start and set the stage for part two.

The second forum was held on June 15th and featured the panellists: Fatima Samji, Feras Ismail, Hubert Hiltz, Dr. Anthony Hutchinson, Indira Quintasi Orosco, Tanjin Ashraf, Colin McClean and Norma Fay Nicholson. Similar to the first one, each panellist came from different career paths of academia, law and order, community leaders, mental health professionals, and EDI. They shared their personal experiences and stories of their lives and family and friends and how we can take action on these experiences and make a change. They had an open and honest conversation about the challenges BIPOC youth faced and how professionals such as the panellist can help support the youth. They explored strategies for creating a more inclusive and equitable community for BIPOC youth and discussed ways to combat hate and promote understanding. The panellists also discussed the most pressing challenges and obstacles in advancing practical and successful solutions in school systems and gained ideas to foster allyships and advocacy efforts. At the end of the advocacy-driven discussion, the audience members asked critical questions which became thought-provoking for the rest of the night. 

Together we can take action to make our community a place where we all feel safe, valued, respected, and heard. I want to thank everyone who came and if not, there’s always a tomorrow to share your voice.

Amna Mohammed 

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