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Agencies come together to host ‘Community – The Power of One’

The annual event runs March 23rd at the Welikoklad Event Centre

With the goal of promoting unity across the community and beyond, ‘Community – The Power of One’ is set for March 23rd at the Welikoklad Event Centre in downtown Red Deer.

Registration is from 8 to 8:45 a.m. with the program kicking off at 8:45 a.m. and running through to 4:30 p.m. Lunch is also included.

This year’s keynote speaker is Dr. Juaid Jahangir. Other highlights include panel discussions and interactive workshops.

Everyone is welcome, and the event is suitable for those 12 and up.

Marking its fourth year, the free event is hosted by several local agencies and organizations.

“What we’ve intended is to gather many different people from the community together to give them an opportunity to attend workshops and be able to discuss all kinds of different topics,” said Jan Underwood, public awareness coordinator at C.A.R.E. “People can gather to talk, to learn and to raise their awareness and then be moved into action.”

Besides tackling some of the myths and misconceptions around discrimination, discussion will also focus on terms many may not be overly familiar with such as ‘unconscious bias’ and ‘intersectionality’.

Intersectionality is defined as, “The complex, cumulative manner in which the effects of different forms of discrimination combine, overlap, or intersect.”

Underwood said ultimately it’s about elevating the conversation, envisioning for the future and also empowering people to make changes happen.

Ezgi Sarioglu, program coordinator with the Red Deer Local Immigration Partnership, added that several anti-discriminatory events are taking place around the City throughout the month of March as well.

“It’s great to see the community coming together – this many people, and this many organizations – to raise awareness and have that dialogue,” she said of Community – The Power of One.

“There is a lot of division right now. There is a lot of ‘us’ and ‘them’. So I’m hoping that with this event, we can bridge that gap a little bit together and have a dialogue rather than labeling each other something. We all have biases, and we are going to be working on those together at this event.

“We are also hoping to bring together those who also have conflicting ideas and opinions, so that we can hear them and they can hear us too, hopefully. Let’s have a dialogue – what can we do together?”

Underwood agreed.

“We are creating a safe space where people can gather, even if they are coming with a totally opposing view.

“Hopefully, with the raising of awareness and some education, people will have more understanding.”

The goal also is that folks will return to their workplaces and homes and share what they have learned. “Then, the knowledge grows and people will basically have more understanding towards each other.”

Angie Chinguwom, who is new to C.A.R.E., said the event is all about community and empowerment. “This will be kind of a roadmap for me, too.

“We all know that when we have more knowledge, we do better, too. When we come together, we achieve more.”

Sophie Simard, who works with C.A.R.E. in the area of community bridging, said she hopes the event helps people open up to what’s going on around them and become more aware of, “All the issues that are there, but that nobody wants to talk about.

“Also, that they can create their own safe place to discuss with others about what’s going on, and find ways to show the rest of Canada that we are trying to make a difference; that we are trying to eliminate myths and eliminate bias.”

Meanwhile, sponsors include the Red Deer Local Immigration Partnership, the Downtown Business Association, C.A.R.E., the Black Knight Inn, Catholic Social Services, the Red Deer Native Friendship Society and Heuer Design.

“There has been an amazing response from different agencies and organizations,” said Underwood. “This is the most support we have ever had for this.

“I think it’s important that the community sees us standing together – sees all of these different agencies all working together, all wanting to do something good for the community and all wanting to bring people together rather than letting the community become divided.”

Those interested in taking part are asked to book their free tickets at tickets.blackknightinn.ca so organizers can prepare in advance.

“I’m just so happy with the way this has gone, that so many people want to support it and have offered sponsorship as well,” said Underwood. “It’s been quite amazing.”

She said it’s vital to also give people the resources and tools they need to make a difference in their own worlds.

“We can help empower them to make changes.”

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