Vancouver Island University (VIU) will host a series of virtual events this week to discuss initiatives to address systemic racism, inequity in healthcare, human rights, climate impacts, media and migration as part of Global Citizens Week.
“The pandemic has been a great revealer of the inequities that exist in our society,” said Darrell Harvey, VIU’s manager of global engagement. “The activities and topics we are examining shed light on local and global issues that have come to light thanks to the pandemic, but also other issues such as climate change, which are having a disproportionately negative impact on marginalized and racialized communities.”
Panel discussions will reflect on the unequal health impacts of COVID-19 at home and abroad with health practitioners from Canada and Mexico.
“International practitioners will share the experiences of frontline workers and what they’ve observed, which communities have been most impacted by COVID from a health perspective and their related social determinants of health,” said Harvey. “For example, while Canadians worry they may wait months to get vaccinated, there are many countries that won’t see vaccines reach their populations for much longer, or not at all.”
The Engaged Citizens Speaker Series will feature Dawn Thomas, Aa ap waa iik, associate deputy minister for Indigenous health with the B.C. Ministry of Health, who will talk about addressing Indigenous-specific racism and discrimination in the provincial health-care system.
Dr. Judith Sayers Kekinusuqs, local Indigenous leader and VIU chancellor, will speak about how Indigenous communities are responding to climate change and how to translate that learning into the classroom.
Global Citizens Week will host the Arts and Humanities Colloquium Series, which examines how Point Ellice House, a historic site in Victoria, is working to update and overhaul narratives to bring attention to the relationships that sustained dispossession, people, power and privilege.
VIU’s Portal magazine will host online readings by racialized and Indigenous writers in advance of the launch of a special edition this spring. There will be presentations on the barriers to refugee resettlement in Canada and anti-discrimination first aid training, in addition to the All Nations Reggae Symposium.
“People all over the world identify with music and reggae, historically, has been the soundtrack to many social movements that aim to combat racism and discrimination,” said Harvey.
Renowned Dub Poet Lillian Allen will finish the week with a special reading as VIU’s Gustafson’s Distinguished Poet.