2013.11.10 – This Week in Discrimination

Two steps forward and one step back.  Some days it looks as though it’s one step forward and two steps back.  Despite the fact that it can sometimes be disheartening, it is important to keep our eyes open and face reality.  The world is an imperfect place.  There is inequality, injustice and discrimination here and elsewhere.  The good news is that if we spot it, we can act on it.  We can work together to stamp out inequality, injustice and discrimination.  Our better world is just around the corner, but we have to build it.

Every week, we will try to share links to five stories that highlight discrimination, injustice, inequality.  One day, maybe there will be more encouraging news than discouraging news, and these articles won’t be quite so easy to find.

First Peoples

First Nations Veteran

Apparently some members of the Toronto police force didn’t know that Canada has First Nations veterans.  Apparently reminding Canadians that there are First Nations veterans isn’t appropriate on Remembrance Day.  Apparently you can be arrested for no other reason than, well… Hmm… Why exactly were Davyn Calfchild and Gary Wassaykeesic arrested?  When questioned, one Toronto officer responded, “It’s a ceremony based on tradition and patriotism… ”  OK.  Still not clear on what prompted the arrest though.  Maybe you can figure it out and explain it.  Your comments will be greatly appreciated.

 Toronto police arrested a First Nations war veteran on Remembrance Day

Persons with Disabilities

Family Wheelchair

Disability comes in many forms, and people with disabilities face more challenges than the able-bodied will ever understand.  However, Jamie Davis Smith, the mother of a disabled daughter, recently shared a list of 5 things that she wishes everyone knew about families dealing with disability.  It’s unfortunate that she has to publish this list, but humans are slow to change, so we’ll keep repeating the message until people learn to stop judging, stop fearing, and stop using the word “retarded”.

Here is Jamie’s List (follow the link for the details):

  1. We really, really dislike the word “retarded”.
  2. Some disabilities are invisible.
  3. It’s ok to ask questions when disabilities are visible.
  4. We are not heroes.
  5. Be considerate.

5 Things You Should Know About Families Dealing With Disabilities

Queer People


 Many of you will remember the Barilla pasta scandal.  This beats the pants off of the Office québécois de la langue française Pastagate.  Just over two months ago, Guido Barilla, president of the pasta company, gave a radio interview in which he had nothing good to say about the LGBTQ community.  His comments sparked a wave of outrage that was felt far beyond Parma, Italy.  In fact, it would appear that the international boycott and outcry have been enough for Signor Barilla to offer up “mi scusa” on the company’s website.  However, one cannot help but wonder how sincere the apology is.  Perhaps we should continue to look to companies that have nothing to apologize for.

Barilla CEO Says He Likes Gays Now, So Please Buy Some Of His Pasta

Toronto’s Italpasta “Our Pasta is made for All Pasta Lovers”


UN Women Ad - Women Should Not

We Google just about everything these days.  From news to bus schedules, Google is the go-to search engine for just about everyone.  However, I’ll bet you didn’t know that you can Google sexism; not the word, but the experience.  Try it yourself and you’ll see.  The ad series created for UN Women by Memac Ogilvy & Mather Dubai uses real Google search results “to reveal the widespread prevalence of sexism and discrimination against women.”  It’s disturbing when you understand how Google instant search results are generated.  It would appear that we still have a long, long way to go.  If you are worried that these ads are a little one-sided, Google “women shouldn’t”, then Google “men shouldn’t” and see what Google Instant search returns.  It’s pretty scary.

UN Women ad series reveals widespread sexism

Racial and Ethnic Minorities

School of Social Work

Edward Lee sounds exactly like the kind of McGillian we can all be proud of.  He completed his Masters of Social Work as a member of the Dean’s Honour List and a recipient of the Alumni prize for Outstanding Masters of Social Work thesis.  He is currently working on his PhD in Social Work and has been awarded the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Vanier Fellowship.  Last year, he was also awarded the 1st annual Equity and Community Building Award in the Academic Staff category for his “commitment to – and leadership in – matters relating to equity, diversity and community building, both within the School of Social Work and in the wider McGill community.”  Mr. Lee currently teaches the highly regarded course on Anti-Oppression Social Work Practice.  So, with all of this apparent success within the McGill community, why did Edward Lee file a complaint with the Quebec Human Rights Commission “alleging systemic racism on the part of the School [of Social Work]”?

Mr. Lee is not the first person to suggest that there is systemic discrimination at McGill.  In his case, the Quebec Human Rights Commission received and accepted his complaint, which suggests that there is enough merit to the complaint to warrant an investigation.  We’ll be keeping a close eye on this situation to see how it unfolds.

McGill School of Social Work accused of perpetuating systemic racism

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