“IF THERE’S ANYTHING the events of 2020 have taught us so far, it’s this: we are more interconnected than ever before. Diseases from one part of the world can infect the whole world. Violence in one city can be felt in all of our cities. Acute acts of injustice reveal systemic problems. Local movements easily become global ones. And the words of our leaders have ripple effects far beyond the word’s themselves.” (Shane Snow; June 3, 2020)
I would like to thank our political and institutional leaders for leading us through these unprecedented times in Canada. Thank you for acknowledging the Black Lives matter movement in the USA and its ripple effects across the world including Canada. I know it is not easy seeing our Country and institutions change drastically because of the pandemic. It is not easy to see some businesses closing down, it is not easy to let go of staff that have held together our institutions and it is also difficult for those that must move on.
Having worked for, and attended tertiary institutions my focus in my blog post will be on discrimination within tertiary institutions. I was raised in a humble environment and have lived experience of low-income communities and the same communities always encouraged children to work hard in school to get a certificate, degree, or diploma because that was the only way to realize a better life in the future. I have noticed that in College and University settings, many internationally trained mature students seem to believe that if they earn another credential their situations may improve. Having worked in Employment Ontario programs, I have observed that piling credentials molds who one becomes but it is not always the answer to improving chances of attaining employment. The answer seems to be hinged on networking, relationship building, mentorship, and finding a hiring manager that is willing to give a person that “looks different” an opportunity to prove that they can get the job done.
The Black Lives Matter movement sparked by a very unfortunate incident south of our borders makes our collective situation more difficult because it is took place during a time when people must be self-isolating and social distancing so that we may resume our lives again with some semblance of the lives we knew in the past.
After reflecting I concluded that we need to strive to create solutions to limit similar situations recurring in our tertiary institutions, communities, cities and country. It is never too late to do the right thing. The right thing, in my view, would be to first acknowledge that we have a problem brewing within our communities and we need to learn from our neighbours’ experiences to mitigate finding ourselves in a similar situation. Systems thinking dictates that, “The actions of one city or business or manager almost has second order effects on the whole system. So, tomorrow’s great leaders will be aware of that and make decisions in terms of the greater system, not just their own immediate priorities.” (Shane Snow; June 3, 2020)
I have had the opportunity to interact and observe black students during my time in tertiary institutions and while many are happy and doing well, others have been subjected to unfavourable situations which might have impacted the citizens they will become tomorrow. In my view, colleges and universities mould young people as they mature into who they become tomorrow, in terms of values and ideology. I was personally moulded by the values instilled in me in post secondary institutions because they made more sense to me in comparison to values instilled during my formative years. I still hold some values instilled during my formative years, and the institutions inform my work ethics and decisions to a large extent. I am concerned that if student experiences in their learning environment are rife with discrimination of any form, that contributes to who they become when they move on to workplaces, starting families, and other areas of our collective community. It also impacts their mental health to a large extent.
Perhaps we can start by having dialogues pertaining to racial discrimination in our institutions (tertiary or corporate) and extending to other forms of discrimination, with a view of building awareness and healthier tertiary and corporate institutions and healthier communities generally. I remain hopeful that one day all our institutions will have someone or a team of people responsible for Diversity and Inclusion; a place where people can safely discuss and work through their challenges. This will hopefully help mitigate our current condition. This is my ask of you.
Angela Rudo Marova