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ParentsCanada - April 2015

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.com 23 The Earth gets 100 tons heavier every day, thanks to falling space dust. all so laid back, maybe it's cultural.'" (Kiera was adopted from Chicago). To combat negative perceptions in her class- room, Catherine introduces positive images of non-white cultural groups. "I'll talk about the incredible histories and contributions of the African continent; Egypt, Benin, 'the city of Gold.' Why don't kids learn any of this?" Too often, we only hear about these cultures in a piteous light – which is an unfair and biased view. "I think as white people, we really need to challenge ourselves to get to know non-white people," says Catherine. She suggests also reading a few books by authors from different cultures about their own experiences. Books like The Help and To Kill a Mockingbird are about racism in the U.S. south, for example, but they are about how a white person stood up for a black person. They shouldn't be the only books on our reading list. According to Statistics Canada data from 2012 (released in 2014), black populations continued to be the most commonly targeted group for police- reported hate crimes motivated by race or ethnic- ity in 2012, accounting for 42 percent of racial hate crimes. Hate crimes are criminal acts motivated by hate. They can be either violent or non-violent in nature, and affect not only the individual victim but also the groups targeted. Hate crimes also occur in Arab, Asian, Jewish and Aboriginal populations. By almost every indicator, Canada's aboriginal population is worse off than African-Americans in the U.S., according to fi gures compiled in a re- cent Maclean's magazine article. After the summer of 2014 – which included riots in Missouri and New York because two unarmed black men were killed by police – this is a pretty grim comparison. From those riots, emerged the movement #BlackLivesMatter. Canadians, too, have em- braced the message (and expanded it to #BlackBrownandRedLivesMatter). Everywhere in the home, in classrooms, in communities across the country, the need for anti-racism education is urgent. TALK, DISCUSS, CONVERSE It's never too early to start educating children on how to respond to incidents of racism. "There are subtleties that kids are amazing at picking up on. If left unexamined, they'll internal- ize the wrong message," says Anita Bromberg, CEO of Canadian Race Relations Foundation ( in Toronto. "It will come out, much to the shock of parents and teachers." Anita notes that all animals, including humans (and even infants) have learned to make distinc- tions about people and places because it was a matter of survival. "You needed to know as a baby that it was safe to pat a dog, but not safe to hug a bear." She says that while it is not wrong to recognize differences between people – it's what you do with it. "Ignoring it, or reprimanding it can be the wrong approach. The best thing parents can do is talk openly to their kids," says Anita. Anita's organization focuses on building harmonious relations within Canadian values of democracy and multiculturalism. 'Our Canada' is their most recent initiative to engage communities across the country on conversations about inclu- sion and diversity. "When we will achieve a truly equal society is when we value each person for who they are. That's what inclusion is all about. And we are certainly not there," Anita says. Rachel Edge and Michael Abraham are youth workers at New Generation Youth Centre (NGEN) in Hamilton. They also use discussion as a key tool in addressing racism. "Dialogue is one of our most effective ways to engage young people, helping them deconstruct language, or deconstruct lived experiences they are going through, and tying that into potential privilege and power," says Rachel. "It's normal to come in the lounge to see a white girl from the west end, and an Arab youth from the core getting really heated but having a staff member facilitate the conversation, and I think that is where a lot of learning and unlearning can take place." " I f w e d o n ' t n a m e r a c i s m f o r w h a t i t i s , w e a r e g o i n g t o k e e p e x p e r i e n c i n g i t . " Shutterstock/ ©lassedesignen/©Rudchenko Liliia also occur in Arab, Asian, Jewish and Aboriginal kindness ISSUE THE

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