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Selkirk College, School District 8 Team Up to Take Action Against Racism

Deepening understanding of racism on a global and local level is the focus of a Selkirk College Mir Centre for Peace Lecture featuring Canadian writer and activist Desmond Cole.

In partnership with School District #8, Selkirk College is hosting an anti-racism and intercultural awareness event on October 23 for all citizens of the region. The day of learning includes a virtual keynote speech from Cole that begins at 9 a.m. via Zoom.

“Desmond Cole has emerged as a vital voice for what we are seeing across Canada when it comes to awareness of how systemic racism impacts and devastates the lives of far too many people,” says Jennie Barron, chair of the Mir Centre for Peace.

“We are pleased to have Desmond bring his perspective to participants in this virtual day of learning. His insight will help build a foundation of better understanding and ultimately make a difference in our local communities.”

Cole was born in Red Deer, Alberta to parents who immigrated to Canada from Sierra Leone. The 38-year-old grew up in Oshawa, Ontario and came to prominence in 2015 when he wrote a cover story for Toronto Life magazine about his own experience of being stopped by police in Canada’s largest city more than 50 times. As a journalist and activist, Cole has become a prominent leader in the anti-racism movement.

Cole released his first book, The Skin We’re In: A Year of Black Resistance and Power, in January 2020 and it quickly became a Canadian bestseller. The book chronicles the year 2017, where Cole captures the perspective of Black Canadians’ struggle against racism and puts the broader issue of entrenched inequality into perspective.

“Clearly the issue of racism in all forms has been thrust to the top of newsfeeds in the last few months, but Desmond has been doing important advocacy work for many years,” says Barron. “His lecture will provide an opportunity for locals to gain deeper knowledge and incorporate the ideas that emerge into their own work in our region.”

The October 23 day-long event is titled: “Perspective. Learning. Hope: Shifting Our Focus Through Awareness.”

The Mir Centre for Peace is working with both School District #8 and Selkirk International to present a virtual event that includes an international student panel consisting of both high school and post-secondary learners, breakout discussion groups and an intercultural awareness activity.

The day will also feature presentations by community members active in anti-racism work and a drop-in virtual expo with businesses and organizations committed to furthering intercultural awareness.

External sponsors of the event include the Trail Community Skills Centre, Trail FAIR, West Kootenay EcoSociety, Kootenay Career Development Society, Nelson Community Christian School, Ecole des Sentiers-Alpins and the West Kootenay Boundary Local Government Management Association.

The entire event is open to all community members and offered free. Pre-registration is required to gain access to the Zoom link. You can find more information at: https://selkirk.ca/event/anti-racism-day

Photo Caption: Author and activist Desmond Cole will the keynote speaker at an October 23 event being put on by Selkirk College’s Mir Centre for Peace and School District #8. Cole is the author of the bestselling book The Skin We’re In: A Year of Black Resistance and Power which was released in January 2020. (photo by Kate Yang-Nikodym)