Manitoba

Researcher aims to combat racism by highlighting stories of discrimination in Manitoba

A researcher from Brandon University is hoping to spark conversations around racism by turning real-world stories of racial discrimination into shareable videos, thanks to a grant from the government of Canada.

Michelle Lam is asking Manitobans to tell their stories, which she'll turn into sharable videos

A person holds up a sign at the Justice 4 Black Lives Winnipeg rally on June 5, 2020. A Brandon researcher hopes her video project will help challenge incorrect notions about racism, and start discussions around the issue. (Austin Grabish/CBC)

A researcher from Brandon University is hoping to spark conversations around racism by turning real-world stories of racial discrimination into shareable videos, thanks to a grant from the government of Canada.

Michelle Lam, the head of the southwestern Manitoba university's Centre for Aboriginal and Rural Education Studies, is using an anonymous survey to collect stories about experiences with racism. She'll use those stories to create shareable videos that explore different perceptions and start discussions about how everyone can improve.

"You might think, 'Well, racism was a huge thing in the past, but we don't really experience it now.' [But] that's actually not really true, because even though it may be subtle or insidious, the effects are cumulative and deeply impactful," Lam said in an interview Wednesday.

"We're trying to kind of expand the way we think about unconscious bias or discrimination or racism."

Anyone in Manitoba over 18 who has experienced or witnessed racism in any context over the past 12 months is being asked to share their stories through the survey.

Michelle Lam is the director of the Centre for Aboriginal and Rural Education Studies at Brandon University. She's collecting stories of racism in Manitoba for a video series to combat racial discrimination in the province. (Submitted by Brandon University)

Lam will use the stories sent in through the survey as a basis for video scripts, which will be tested with a diverse group of cultural representatives.

She then plans to work with a videographer to create the videos, and collaborate with a marketing and social media team to promote the videos online through targeted campaigns.

Lam hopes the videos will represent experiences within minority groups in Manitoba, including Black and Indigenous people, as well as people of colour and religious minorities.

She also plans to expand the project, funded through a $100,000 grant from Canada Heritage, throughout the country in the future.

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