Arts take on racism

48-hour Anti-Racism Film Festival tackles discrimination

Illustration by Justin Ladia

Art is a form of expression that people can use to make political statements. The Canadian Cultural Mosaic Foundation (CCMF) is exploring the impacts of racism in society through the 48-hour Anti-Racism Film Festival hoping to spark conversation about racism in communities.

“We believe Canada was built off of racist ideologies … so it has existed in our systems for many years. It’s incredibly important for politicians to stand up against racism and support anti-racism initiatives,” Iman Bukhari, CEO of the CCMF, says.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated several values as core Canadian values including freedom of the individual, equality and diversity, according to CBC News.

In Trudeau’s statement on Canada Day, he speaks about the events of the past, reflecting on the values that Canadians applied to their daily lives while recognizing the struggles that they have faced throughout history. This includes residential schools and the forced displacement of Indigenous people on reserve land, which have recently been in the news due to their abhorrent living conditions and drinking water advisories.

According to Historica Canada, between 2012 and 2013, 33.6 per cent of First Nations people on reserve received social income assistance, compared to five per cent of non-Indigenous people.

The CCMF is taking a millennial perspective on the topic of racism and pushing for inclusivity.

“Politicians (can) provide more programming, funding, education and resources to those working to end racism, as well as those experiencing it … and also help those who may not believe it exists because they don’t experience it‚” Bukhari says.

To do that, the organization is presenting workshops that offer information about creating a culture of respect for gender and sexuality, the impacts of racism in Canadian
communities and how to address sexual harassment, in correspondence with the Calgary Sexual Health Centre.

“In a world of humans, it might not be possible to have an ideal society where everyone is fully accepted” Bukhari says. She goes on to say, “we think education can help. It can spark … hope and make the (difference) to help people get along and understand one another.”

The CCMF is currently taking their work and bringing it to Winnipeg by holding their 48-hour Anti-Racism Film Challenge. The CCMF uses art as method to take on racism.

“(The CCMF) was looking for a way to engage everyday Canadians to spark conversations about racism while making it something exciting. Normally racism and excitement don’t go together. This is where arts play a major role‚” Bukhari says.

Partnering with the Citizen Equity Committee (CEC), CCMF hopes to reach out to more Winnipeggers to celebrate and participate in the Challenge.

The CEC supports equity and diversity in communities and organizations as well as celebrates cultural events.

Together both organizations will work to spark a conversation about racism in Winnipeg.

“Bringing this national festival to Winnipeg to engage citizens to spark conversations about racism in this exciting format, is a good way to bring people together to talk about these issues and share stories‚” Morrison says.

The 48-hour Anti-Racism Film Festival runs through February and March - see for more.

Published in Volume 72, Number 16 of The Uniter (February 1, 2018)

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