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2013.11.10 – This week in Diversity

After being derailed by Montreal’s municipal elections, This week in Diversity is back!

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 try to 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

Yukon First Nations

The Nations of the Yukon territory have a good thing going.  Thanks to a document authored in 1973, the First Nations of that northern territory and the government share more equitably in the resources while working to preserve traditional values in a global economy.  Fast forward 40 years, and Dempster Energy Services is born.  This company, formed by three Yukon First Nations is exploring the possibility of the Yukon supporting its own liquefied natural gas plant.  Getting involved in a major infrastructure project would be a huge win for the new company and would demonstrate that the accord signed in 1973 is truly “a better way to work with First Nations”.

Power position: Yukon First Nations benefit from equity in power projects

Yukon First Nations studying liquefied natural gas

Persons with Disabilities

bioAaron

Aaron Broverman is a Toronto journalist who has been published in countless magazines, journals, websites and blogs.  He is the brains behind ThisAbility, a weekly disability issues column published on This Magazine’s website.  He also has cerebral palsy. Aaron has always been candid about his life, and the trials and tribulations of living in an able-bodied world.  He recently published a challenging piece in Vice magazine on the complexities of dating for the disabled.  The article may be a little shocking, and it will likely be unexpected to some, but it certainly demonstrates how some people can truly find a way to make lemonade no matter how many lemons life throws at them!

 I have cerebral palsy and I’m looking for love

Queer People

JJ Levine

Most of us are raised with the notion that there are two fixed genders, and that we are either one or the other.  Many people struggle with the idea that gender is changeable, fluid.  Canadian photographer JJ Levine challenges this idea with a wonderful series of photos that illustrate how gender may not be as fixed as some believe, and the spectrum of gender expression includes more than simply cis male and cis female.  Explore more of his wonderful work by following the link below.

 Beautiful Photo Series Explores How One Person Can Take On Two Genders

Women

bateaumylene

 Montreal women rock!  Earlier today, Mylène Paquette became the first North American rower to successfully cross the North Atlantic alone.  Not the first North American woman, the first North American period.  5000 kilometres over 129 days, alone in a fancy canoe, battling loneliness, fatigue, and storms.  She did it.  Her boat capsized 10 times, and she is terrified of being under water, but she pushed on to accomplish what nobody from this continent ever has before.  Congratulations, Mylène!

Canadian rower says she’s first North American to cross North Atlantic alone

Racial and Ethnic Minorities

Sometimes, it’s these unexpected stories that remind us that we don’t need to take giant leaps to make a difference in the diversity landscape.  Sometimes, a small act can remind us that the similarities far outweigh the differences, and that there is no “them”; there is only “us”.

When Isaac Theil felt the stranger’s head suddenly resting on his shoulder as he rode home on New York City’s Q train, he didn’t see a black man; he saw himself.  “I simply remembered the times my own head would bop on someone’s shoulder because I was so tired after a long day,” Theil said.  The story was soon making waves across the internet.

Sleeping Stanger Subway Picture On Q Train Defines Empathy And Is A Lesson In Being Good

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

 

Women

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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