‘The status quo is not good enough’

Workshop tackles cultural and racial issues in the workplace

Working among Racial Difference on Colonized Land: Strengthening Cultural Competency in our Organizations takes place on Nov. 13 and 14 at United Way Winnipeg. This workshop focuses on recognizing racism and systemic oppression in the workplace while encouraging change and cultural sensitivity.

Jackie Hogue, the workshop’s host and owner of J. Hogue and Associates, says she created the event after witnessing the harm caused by oppression and racism.

“I have worked in community-building for (25) years and, especially in inner-city Winnipeg, I saw the effects of colonization and racism on people in their everyday lives,” she says.

Hogue attributes her awareness of issues of marginalization to her Métis background and says when these social issues collide, they can create many barriers that make life difficult for people.

“I wanted to work with the community to encourage people to do (more effective work), (teach them) how to be more intentional and show them how to address and dismantle these issues,” she says.

Originally a one-day event, Hogue says that she extended this year’s workshop to spend more time analyzing lessons from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Inquiry.

Among the many lessons taught in this event is cultural competency, and Hogue points out three aspects of this that can encourage change.

“We must first recognize that we are situated in the community, and there are different people in it,” she says.

“We must also recognize our history and context. There are things that happen in the distant and near past that inform the things we experience, such as colonization and systemic oppression.

“Last, we must recognize that we need change. The status quo is not good enough, and it is not serving people. Rather, it is harming them.”

The workshop is designed for executive directors, program staff and others in community leadership roles, and Hogue believes change starts with leaders addressing issues that can be difficult to recognize.

“Because racism and oppression are often deeply rooted, we often do not notice that they are happening,” she says.

To help kickstart this change, Hogue suggests that people become more aware of their actions and surroundings and listen more.

“Notice who the leadership in your organization is, who your friends are and if you become scared when someone of a different identity group passes you on the street,” she says.

“The first step is recognition and then becoming a good listener, because there are people that are telling us what they want and need.

“Before TRC, there were other reports of what Indigenous communities are calling for to create change, but we have not been collectively good listeners.”

The workshop takes place at United Way Winnipeg at 580 Main St. from Nov. 13 to 14. Registration can be done through Eventbrite.ca.

Published in Volume 74, Number 8 of The Uniter (October 31, 2019)

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