July 26th, 2017

Taking action against discrimination


By Lethbridge Herald Opinon on July 14, 2017.

There’s never a dull day in Lethbridge and southern Alberta, and this past month we’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly.

First there’s the story of Ramona Big Head and the very disrespectful correspondence from a former AHS senior representative who used a horrible racial slur. Ms. Big Head is the principal of >Tatsikiisaapo’p >Middle School in Stand Off, >has a master’s degree and is currently a PhD candidate at the University of British Columbia.

Second, we’re also aware of the fact that some person or persons poured black paint and peat moss on the Pride and Transgender crosswalks here, the work of U of L Indigenous artists was defaced and the Pride flag in Taber was burned twice.

But from the bad and ugly comes the good!

The U of L Pronghorns and friends stayed all night to guard our crosswalks before Lethbridge Pride. The Pride Flag was replaced twice in Taber and more people attended the raising of the flags each time – friends even stood guard until the flag officially came down on June 30.

Action was taken by AHS to address the racial slurs sent to Ms. Big Head, and almost 100 good neighbours came out to help restore the Indigenous artwork on the west facing slope of the coulees.

Incidents of racism appear to be on the rise through many parts of the world, including right here in Lethbridge, and our government is taking steps to address this issue in our province. This is not how we see ourselves as Albertans and it should not be how any of our citizens behave. Hopefully we can change this trend.

Further to that, our government is launching consultations to fight racism. We believe Albertans share our commitment to inclusion and mutual respect. Obviously, given the things that have happened there is more work to be done. We know diversity is our strength – it has been since before Alberta became a province. Our sense of inclusion, commitment to stepping-up and helping one another is evident in the support that has come from our community during the last month and every time there is a crisis.

To that end, I and several of my colleagues will be hosting a number of meetings throughout the province this fall with community organizations working to combat racism. I want to talk to Albertans who are experiencing racism and find out from them if it’s getting worse and work together on ways to fight it.

Dates and locations will be posted as soon as they are finalized and a website will be coming where all Albertans can share their perspectives.

I also want to let you know the Alberta government is seeking nominations for the sixth annual Alberta Inspiration Awards. These awards recognize and showcase the work of Albertans in the prevention of family violence, sexual violence, child abuse and bullying in communities across the province. The deadline for nominations of individuals and community groups is Aug. 11. Visit http://www.humanservices.alberta.ca/department and click on Awards and Bursaries. Recipients will be announced in November during Family Violence Prevention Month.

Several events are upcoming with the Southern Alberta Ethnic Association:

– Festival Latino at Galt Gardens July 22 from noon to 10 p.m. (I went last year – it was fabulous);

– Taste of Bhutan July 28 from 6:30 – 9:30 p.m. at the centre;

– Heritage Day Aug. 7 from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. at the South Pavilion Exhibition Park.

I expect to be in Lethbridge most of the summer and I hope I get to see you out at any of the great events that go on in our city throughout the summer or as I door-knock in your neighbourhood.

As always, constituents are welcome to come and visit my office; during walk in times, Monday through Thursday, 9:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. or by appointment (please call 403-320-1011 or email lethbridge.east@assembly.ab.ca). The Lethbridge East Constituency Office is located at 543 13th Street South.

Maria Fitzpatrick is the NDP MLA for Lethbridge East. Her column appears monthly.


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