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Timmins residents share painful stories on day to eliminate racism


On the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the group called Timmins Together hosted a symposium.

The agenda included a speech by Councillor Kristin Murray and a discussion panel featuring local newcomers who shared some of their discriminatory experiences in the city.

Ifeoma Kasimanwuna, of the Timmins Local Immigration Partnership, said they took a fresh approach this year.

“How (better to) educate people than have them together with people with lived experience, share their experiences and talk about how racism and discrimination is showing up in the community so that those at the helm of affairs, at the upper levels in organizations, can really pay attention,” Kasimanwuna said.

The symposium began with a candid speech by Murray about some of her experiences living as a black and Indigenous child in Chapleau. She called on people to decolonize their language.

Murray said sayings such as 'grandfathered in,' 'peanut gallery' and 'no can do' have racist ties and should not be used.

"Just because we heard something growing up doesn't mean it's appropriate," she said.

The audience also heard from newcomers, including people from Asia, including the Philippines.

When Estella Chow moved to Timmins in 1993, she said employers didn't want to hire her.

“You know what it, it's bringing back the pain that I have for a long time, you know,” Chow said.

“You just feel it like, it slices your heart if you go back to that.”

But now she's a business owner and is proud of her successful children.

"We should accept the people of who they are, whatever country they coming (from),” she said.

“At the end of the day, we’re one.”

The symposium also addressed what newcomers say is a big issue here and throughout the country -- when employers ask for 'Canadian experience' on job applications.

“It’s a very good excuse not to hire a newcomer,” Kasimanwuna said.

“It’s also a good excuse to get a newcomer to start from the bottom and keep them at the bottom because you don’t have it the way we do it, forgetting that diversity is about bringing different things to the table.”

For those who want to learn more about eliminating discrimination in the workplace, the Timmins Economic Development Corporation invites people to read the 'Workplace Inclusion Charter' and sign the declaration to celebrate diversity in the community. Top Stories

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