Manitobans concerned about racism in their businesses and organizations are invited to participate in anti-racism workshops sponsored by the Islamic Social Services Association.
Titled Racism: Reject and Respond, the two-day professional training events are intended for people working in health care, education, law enforcement, human resources, social services and justice.
Topics to be covered include religious bigotry, unconscious racism, colonialism and its impact, systemic racism and subtle and overt racism, among others. Participants will also come away with a tool to help them audit racism in their workplaces.
"We need more education in order to deal with diversity," said Shahina Siddiqui, executive director of the ISSA. "Racism causes much harm, whether it is conscious or unconscious."
For some people, this means dealing with stereotypes they may have about people from other religions, ethnic groups or races.
For Siddiqui, as a Muslim, this means dispelling ideas that all Muslims are terrorists, all Muslim women are oppressed or that Muslim men are culturally and religiously domineering and violent toward their wives.
If non-Muslims "hold those kind of biases" towards the Islamic community, Siddiqui wonders how they provide help and support.
"If a Muslim comes for help, how can they do case planning if they have those biases?" she asks.
Siddiqui is quick to point out it’s not only Muslims who have these experiences; other groups, and especially Indigenous people, also have many stories to tell of how racism affects their lives.
She also acknowledges that as an immigrant to Canada she had to deal with her own racism toward other groups.
"I had my own biases, and had to face them," Siddiqui said, adding, "We all need to have these difficult conversations."
The goal of the workshops is not to blame people, she said.
"It’s about making things right and empowering people to do better. It is not about judging people. We want to get to the heart of what racism is, how it plays out in organizations, and how we can begin to promote change," Siddiqui said.
Currently, the workshops are planned to be held in-person, with a limit of 25 people for each one and all pandemic safety protocols and guidelines followed. If provincial guidelines change, organizers will consider an online option.
Registration for the workshops, which will be held Sept. 24-25, Oct. 29-30 and Nov. 5-6, is now open. The cost is $400 per person. Go to www.issacanada.com for more information, or call 204-944-1560.
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.