MacEwan faculty members Kalyani Thurairajah, Sara Grewal and Irfan Chaudhry will participate in a panel discussion at one of the new events hosted by the OHRDE, opening a conversation about race and racism

Tackling tough topics

September 21, 2018 | Campus Life, Society
While racist incidents often make their way into the headlines, it’s a subject that isn’t always easy to discuss in everyday life.

That’s why MacEwan’s Office of Human Rights, Diversity and Equity (OHRDE) is creating opportunities to have tough conversations.

On Tuesday, Sept. 25, MacEwan is teaming up with Metro Cinema to host a screening of Fruitvale Station, followed by a panel discussion with MacEwan faculty members. The event is the latest in MacEwan’s REEL Learning series, and offers free admission to high school students.

The goal is to provide a safe space for younger students to start having difficult conversations, and help prepare them, both personally and academically, for topics they may face head-on in post-secondary, says Irfan Chaudhry, director of the OHRDE.

“Racism is a tough topic,” says Irfan. “Through film, we can acknowledge difficult truths and how they impact our reality.”

Fruitvale Station, starring Michael B. Jordan, is based on the true story of Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old shot and killed by transit police in Oakland, California in 2009, sparking protests across the city, and the conviction of the police officer involved.

Following the movie, the panel discussion with Irfan, Sara Grewal, assistant professor of English, and Kalyani Thurairajah, assistant professor of sociology, will focus on race, racialization and police use of force.

The OHRDE is also introducing these topics on campus, in hopes of empowering students, faculty and staff to engage in education, conversation and action around issues of discrimination.

On Sept. 27, the office is launching their new Understanding Hate speaker series. The first instalment will welcome Brad Galloway to campus to speak about pathways in and out of the far-right movement in Canada.

“By looking at why people hate, and how it impacts our social world, we can develop a deeper understanding of how to counter hate,” says Irfan.

For over a decade, Brad was a passionate member of the neo-Nazi movement in Canada, first with the Toronto skinheads, before moving to British Columbia to act as the president of the Canadian chapter of Volksfront, a white supremacist group founded in Oregon.

After marrying his wife and having a daughter, Brad started questioning his ideologies, and whether he wanted to raise his child in an environment fueled by hate. After a total of 13 years in the movement, Brad walked way.

“Brad’s story is remarkable,” says Irfan. “He’s found a new calling in life – a commitment to sharing his experience and involvement in right wing extremism as a way to help navigate other people away from it.”

Brad will speak from 5 to 6:30 p.m. in the CN Theatre (Room 5 -142). RSVP online.

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