Equity vs Inclusion – Manjit Minhas

#ThoughtfulThursday was created as a space to challenge our assumptions, stretch our imagination, and discover something new. If you’ve got some thought nuggets to share, feel free to send us an email!

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How many times have you been invited to the table, but found you were not given the space to speak? To contribute? Or worse, you would speak – but no one cared for what you had to say, or were openly hostile?

Manjit Minhas has been there, in a big way. She is one of Canada’s top entrepreneurs, best known for investing in small Canadian businesses as a Dragon on Dragon’s Den. She co-owns and runs a family business, Minhas Brewery, with her brother. To make it this far as the daughter of Indian immigrants in predominantly white male industries takes guts and grit, both of which Manjit clearly has. Check out this power pose – it’s actually what drew me to her in the first place. And then the content of her character sold me.

Seriously – look at this power pose! Image sourced from CanadianBusiness.com.

In her podcast, “A Wealth of Women’s Stories”, Manjit takes this episode to speak with Fate Saghir about overcoming adversity. They share their experiences, not only as women in business, but as Indian women in business.

Unfortunately, their stories are not so far off from the experiences of BIPOC folk in education. From being told that the company where Fate was just hired rarely hires women, to Manjit growing up facing the racism of being told to change her name, they had no shortage of stories.

And while both Manjit and Fate acknowledge that as individuals, we must push forward in the face of discrimination and use our obstacles to fuel our resolve, they also demand change in the system. Inevitably, equity and inclusion come up in their discussion, and one thing in particular that Manjit said stood out enough to be worth a good ol’ quote:

So I ask you again: how often are you invited to the table, but are discouraged from speaking?

Better yet: if you are in a position of privilege, how often do you invite folks to the table, and yet get annoyed at their “audacity” to challenge you, as if they should feel lucky to have been invited in the first place, so how dare they challenge you?

FOOD FOR THOUGHT.

Change begins within. Equity vs inclusion. It’s time to do more than send or accept invites.

It’s time to dance.

Check out the recap post about our Discussion Panel on “Equity at Work: Northern and Virtual Schools“. We’re just getting started.

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A Complicated Love – Canada Day

#ThoughtfulThursday was created as a space to challenge our assumptions, stretch our imagination, and discover something new. If you’ve got some thought nuggets to share, feel free to send us an email!

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Trigger warning: readers may be triggered by the recount of enslavement, Indian Residential Schools, and the Chinese Head Tax. To access a 24-hour National Crisis Line, call: 1-866-925-4419.

The late Curtis Wilson, from the Kwakwaka’wakw Territories in British Columbia, is the artist behind the Canadian Indigenous Flag.

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Canada Day is tomorrow. Hands up if you’ve got mixed feelings about this day! *puts up both hands AND feet*

Being that this network is dedicated to helping educators create a more mindful, trauma-informed practice through the lens of anti-oppression, we will always encourage some real, raw reflection here (as opposed to not-real things like crypto.. ha!) – and it won’t always feel good.

As Canadians, especially with everything happening with the American Supreme Court these days, it’s very easy to say “I’m so glad we’re not living in Gilead!”

However.

The Handmaid’s Tale-style direction that Americans are afraid of right now has already happened to those who live on Canadian soil. In fact, it continues to happen, whether we like to admit it or not.

There’s no point mincing words: the first Europeans who came to colonize Turtle Island enslaved people and dragged them away from their families across the Atlantic Ocean. This happened on this land that we now call Canada too. These men also created a system of Indigenous genocide – 1920 Germany was designed after British colonialism. The last concentration camp in Canada, also known as Residential Schools, closed in 1996. Most of our network coordinators were in elementary school, oblivious to what was happening to children across the country, and oblivious to the fact that our peers were suffering enough trauma designed by our government to ripple across generations. And now, the foster system continues to steal Indigenous children from their families rather than provide the necessary support for healing. It’s continued genocide through intentional neglect and cruelty.

Oh, and by the way, less gory but not much better: July 1st was the day the Chinese head tax was implemented.

So where do we go from here?

Reconciliation in Canada is complex, and no doubt those who have found a way to build a home here will want to express gratitude and patriotism. We don’t have all the answers of course, nor is it our place to tell our members how to feel about anything.

So we’re giving folks space to share their thoughts. Here are a few.

Thoughts on Canada Day

“July 1 – Cancel Canada Day & September 30 – Survivors Day.

It is important to get your orange shirts from Indigenous artists and creators!!

We had our land, children, resources and lives taken away from us. The whole idea behind Orange Shirt Day is to spread awareness and to give back to Indigenous communities and we strongly believe that with TIHR (Toronto Indigenous Harm Reduction).

So many of our relatives, who struggle and suffer with poverty and the impacts of trauma on the streets of Toronto, faced abuse at the hands of these schools. It is our honour to come to them weekly to offer ceremony and healing with the jingle dress dance, other dances and the sacred medicines. They continue to carry the songs, language and teachings themselves despite the forced and systematic assimilation they faced.

If you’d like to support by getting an orange shirt or other swag made by Indigenous artists that supports our community please visit our website in our LinkTree or email nativeartssociety@gmail.com for questions or bulk orders.”

Nakurmiik//Miigwech. – Toronto Indigenous Harm Reduction

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“There are as many types of people living here as there are types of salmon. I would like to see us coming together in the future, not only my First Nations people, but all of Canada.” – Curtis Wilson

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“My parents are immigrants to Canada. Canada offered them protection from war, stability, work, and more. Being first generation, and a white settler myself, Canada has offered me many privileges. But this has come, and continues to come, at the cost of Indigenous peoples livelihoods. My parents were only able to immigrate because of the colonization of Turtle Island and Indigenous Peoples. Canada Day for me should be a day of reflection and honest conversation, but also a day of action and support of Indigenous peoples and initiatives. It’s time to give back.” – Karah

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I’m still figuring out my relationship with Canada. Am I glad to be here? Yes. Did my husband choose to propose to me in Ottawa? Yes. Do I recognize what my privileges have provided for me? Absolutely. Do I also recognize that my parents suffered being immigrants here, that my brother and I suffered as children of immigrants? Yes. Do I also recognize that my parents were able to come here and carve out a life for all of us off the backs of First Nations Peoples? Also yes. Lots of “also” statements, because that’s just how layered and nuanced things are. I’m trying to figure out what reconciliation means for me and my family, and it’s work that we owe to Indigenous Peoples of this land. They give us so much. The least we can do is honour them, and figuring out how to do so will be an ongoing journey.” – Karen

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#MyFlag means an ongoing fight to make Canada a better place for everyone. Even though Canada is an inclusive country, we must not forget the injustice people faced and are still facing. #MyFlag also represents new opportunities and unity. Canada also accepts so many immigrants and refugees, giving these people hope and a new beginning for them and their family. – Anonymous High School Student

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“Over the past few years, as my understanding of the true history of this nation has deepened, Canada Day has come to be marked with great tension. 

I sit with the knowledge that my parents came to this land with hopes of building a better life, that they managed to do it, and that this life we have here has been afforded at the expense of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit. I wrestle with the narratives I was taught about the Church’s missionary work on this land having been raised Catholic. I contemplate the ways my own ancestors’ identities were erased as they were baptized in the name of Jesus, and the way colonizers drew lines across their land creating borders in South Asia. I recall my father expressing with despair how he thought having been born here would mean my siblings and I wouldn’t have to experience racial discrimination like he did. I wonder how we could have expected acceptance in a place governed by those who subjected it to the violence that divided our ancestral land.

But, as I do all of this, acknowledging there’s “no pride is genocide,” I also dream of the Canada I thought existed as a child. We have to sit with uncomfortable truths and take action in order to repair relationships with Indigenous Peoples and this land.

The tensions felt today have rendered Canada Day an annual opportunity to recommit to learning and unlearning, to putting pressure on government officials to respond to all 94 Calls to Action, and to reconciling.” – Alycia

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