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Time for results when it comes to ending racism, Timmins speaker tells crowd

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On Friday, Northern College hosted the first of a series of talks and workshops focused on making the community more equitable, diverse and inclusive.

The college invited Alex Ihama, a bestselling author and diversity consultant, to speak about discrimination and racism, and how to address those issues in the workplace and society.

Ihama, the executive director of a group that helps eliminate racism and discrimination in workplaces across the country, spoke about how leaders in Timmins can do the same.

He said people are aware of the issues, having done hundreds of these talks. He said it’s time for results.

“We now need to start empowering people with the tips, tools and techniques to translate that awareness into action,” Ihama said.

“Timmins is not absolved from this.”

Ihama made that clear in his presentation, highlighting articles on the city’s history of racism and the prevalence of racial discrimination.

Northern College is one of five national hubs tasked with boosting equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives — particularly the “50-30 challenge” of having 50 per cent of high-level positions occupied by women and 30 per cent by marginalized groups.

“We want to continue to be that beacon of light and hope and start to really make a difference in how folks think about difference and how they unpack those biases that people may hold and not even be conscious of,” said Northern College’s Susan Hunter.

The college received federal funding both to hold events and to hire diversity consultants — one of whom said incidents of racism against immigrants in a town with a dwindling population have made the initiative all the more crucial.

“It’s impeding the growth -- the economic growth -- of the city,” said diversity consultant Everard Kasimanwuna.

“You know, it’s impeding … the growth of influx of immigrants to the city. It’s stopping them from having places to work.”

“If Timmins does not attract immigration into this town, it will not be around for long,” Ihama added.

He said the way forward is to have the people who were in the room with him make an impact in their organizations.

“They are poised, they are passionate, they are powerful and with that potential, they will—not can, not may—I know they will make changes in their workplaces,” Ihama said.

Northern College is hoping to drive that message home and help make lasting change, aiming to hold monthly talks and workshops over the next year. 

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