2013.10.13 – This Week in Diversity

Whenever we talk about race, disability, first peoples, women’s issues, and queer people, more often than not, we hear stories of discrimination, inequity, and heartbreak.  However, there is also good news out there, and it is important to celebrate the small victories along the road to a better world.

Every week, we will share links to five stories that celebrate diversity.  The news isn’t always bad.  Every day, there are strong people who are overcoming adversity, excelling despite the odds, and fighting the good fight.  One day, maybe there will be more encouraging stories than discouraging ones, and these articles won’t be quite so difficult to find.

First Peoples

Do you have an eight?  Go Fish!  Do you have an Ace?  Go Fish!  Do you have 1 million pounds of salmon?  They do at the Lax Kw’ alaams fish processing plant!  This First Nations community turned a rundown fish plant into a state-of-the-art success story.  Several communities on the West Coast are finding creative ways to combine tradition with innovation to build sustainable, successful industry.  This is the story of one community that combined investment, elbow grease, and luck to rebuild a flagging fishery.

First Nations fish processing plant rides nature’s business cycle


Persons with Disabilities

While running is often depicted as a solitary sport, the running community is made up of people from all walks of life and from almost every country.  It is one of the reasons that the Boston Marathon bombings were so unsettling.  Traditionally, marathons have allowed us to witness incredible athletic ability and inspiring moments of support and sportsmanship.  The bombings ripped through an event that has always brought people from around the globe together in celebration of their sport.

Fortunately, some people won’t let a little thing like losing a limb hold them back.  They rise to the challenge and show us that as long as the spirit is willing, the rest will follow.  Recently, some of the newly disabled runners who survived the horrors of that day began their new adventure as amputee runners.  Once again, people from all walks of life came together in celebration of their sport.

Boston Marathon Bombing Victims Are Learning To Run Again


Queer People

Being a teenager is tough.  Being a transgender teenager is tougher.  Montreal has some great resources for transgender youth.  The Montreal Children’s Hospital already has it’s own Gender Variance Program. Now, Toronto has just created a new resource for Ontario kids who are brave enough to own their identity and to seek the help that they need, instead of becoming another one of those devastating statistics. Let’s hope that the new transgender youth clinic at the Sick Kids hospital will add to the momentum so that all transgender youth will eventually have access to resources in their communities.

Transgender youth clinic opens at Sick Kids



While we sit here debating the “feminist merits” of the hijab and the right of Quebec citizens to wear it, Muslim women have been bravely fighting for women’s rights in places where speaking out can be deadly.  We have all praised the strength and determination of young Malala Yousafzai.  Her hijab certainly doesn’t appear to be squashing her self-determination.  However, there are countless other amazing women who will not be silenced by their governments, by warlords or by anyone else.

If you haven’t already been introduced to her, meet Malalai Joya.  She’s not scared.

Afghanistan’s Warlords Cannot Silence Malalai Joya


Racial and Ethnic Minorities

We’re number 1!  We’re number 1!  Technically, this story is more than a week old, but since this is the first “week in diversity” post, I decided to include it anyway.  Our new principal has done us proud by being the first principal to denounce the proposed Quebec Charter of Values.  By clearly stating that McGill’s values include diversity, our principal is letting minorities know that we are welcome here.  To paraphrase the ad, at McGill “we care what’s in your head, not on your head”.

Whether our professors wear a hijab, a kippah, or a turban is not what’s important.  We want to be surrounded by bright, engaged, talented people who come to work inspired and inspiring.  That’s what the McGill community should be.

Charter ‘contrary to our principles’: McGill


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