Thunder Bay

Community invited to talk about racism, reconciliation in Thunder Bay, Ont.

Thunder Bay residents interested in learning more about what they can do to address racism and build relationships with the city's Indigenous population are invited to a community conversation this week.

Event runs Thursday evening at the Blue Sky Community Healing Centre

A community conversation on becoming an anti-racism ally will take place on Thursday at the Blue Sky Community Healing Centre in Thunder Bay. It's the third in a series of events, which are specifically designed for non-Indigenous residents. (Angela Gollat)

Residents in Thunder Bay, Ont., interested in learning more about what they can do to address racism and build relationships with the city's Indigenous population are invited to a community conversation this week.

The third session in the Conversations on Becoming an Anti-Racism Ally series will take place Thursday evening at the Blue Sky Community Healing Centre.

"This gathering is going to be on the topic of reconciliation, or conciliation," said facilitator Angela Gollat.

"What we're doing is gathering together the community, specifically white community members, to talk about the issue of racism, and look at what does it mean to reconcile relationships with the Indigenous community in Thunder Bay and beyond."

'Everybody gets to participate in their own way'

Gollat said the discussions use the deep democracy process, which was developed in post-apartheid South Africa to bring together communities that had been in conflict for a long period of time.

"Maybe even build relationships to begin with, since we don't necessarily have them right now built into our systems and our communities," she said.

"Part of this conversation is allow everybody to participate in idea sharing in an effort to really allow the conflict within a community to come to the surface to be used as ... raw material for the healing process," Gollat continued. "It's very educational, it's participatory."

"Everybody gets to participate in their own way, even if they don't feel comfortable speaking."

Thunder Bay 'struggling'

Gollat said people who have participated in the first two sessions are leaving with more questions, and less comfort in their own assumptions about Indigenous people and history.

"Thunder Bay is just struggling so much," she said. "There are so many things going on around racism in our community. We're seeing the impacts, and racialized people in our community are speaking out more and asking for all of our support in helping to address this issue."

Having that discussion in-person can be very beneficial, Gollat said.

"Often on social media, these conversations are being had, but they can be messy and offensive, and so people tend to stay away from them," she said. "We wanted to really create a space where it was really accessible, we used accessible language, where we are intentionally kind to one another in the conversation, but also pushing one another to learn more and grow and consider new perspectives."

Conversations on Becoming an Anti-Racism Ally: Session 3 will run from 7-9:30 p.m. at the Blue Sky Community Healing Centre, which is located at 512 E. Victoria Ave.

Admission is free, but space is limited; those interested in attending are encouraged to reserve a spot on the Eventbrite page.

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