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This article was published 8/3/2019 (450 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Should Canadians be concerned about the growth of the far right in this country? How can schools educate students about racism? What does a feminist lens teach us about dealing with hatred? What can community, faith and other groups do to combat hate?
Those are some of the questions to be addressed at Striving for Human Dignity: Race, Gender, Class & Religion, a March 14-15 conference in Winnipeg.
The two-day event, open to the public, is being organized by the Islamic Social Services Association, with support from the Winnipeg Foundation, Social Planning Council of Winnipeg and the federal and provincial governments.
"It’s about time we paid attention to the rise of the far right in Canada," conference organizer Shahina Siddiqui says.
"Their promotion of fear and hate is causing so much damage to our social harmony, turning Canadians against each other."
The Thursday keynote address will be delivered by Barbara Perry of the Canadian Network for Research on Terrorism, Security and Society.
It will be based on her recently completed three-year national study of right-wing extremism in Canada.
"We need all parts of society to think about this," Siddiqui says of who should attend the conference.
"Police, health-care professionals, educators, religious groups and many other parts of society need to be informed and think about what they can do to respond to hate."
The conference will feature sessions about reconciliation between Indigenous people and newcomers; how to help refugees who are re-traumatized when they encounter racism or hate in Canada; how faith groups can work together to combat hatred; how schools can promote anti-racism; and the psychological effect of hate on individuals and communities.
It will include the launch of a toolkit for democratic and peaceful actions to defeat hate.
"We want to talk about what lessons we have learned, where we are at today and what we can do to move forward together in Winnipeg," Siddiqui says of the conference.
She hopes that through sessions and conversation cafés, participants will be able to "get together to talk about what we can do, and build relationships with one another."
Of special interest to Siddiqui is how faith groups can work together.
"We need to move beyond talk," she says of sessions about interfaith conversations about hate, and Islamophobia and anti-Semitism in Canada.
"We need to find ways to be there and speak up for each other, to show it in our actions."
The cost for the conference, which will be held at the Hilton Airport Suites from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., is $100. For information, or to register, visit issacanada.com or call 204-944-1560. The registration deadline is March 10.
John Longhurst has been writing for Winnipeg's faith pages since 2003. He also writes for Religion News Service in the U.S., and blogs about the media, marketing and communications at Making the News.
The Free Press acknowledges the financial support it receives from members of the city’s faith community, which makes our coverage of religion possible.