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Racism is a threat to humanity, Nayyar Javed said at a recent forum on racism in Saskatchewan. "Unless we have respect for our environment and respect of each others' racial and cultural differences, we'll not have the energy to fight against the destruction of our planet, our environment."
The public meeting, cosponsored by the Saskatchewan and Canadian Human Rights Commissions, drew about 125 people to the Regina Inn on the evening of March 22. Javed, President of Immigrant Women of Saskatchewan, was one of the three speakers at the forum. The others were Oliver Brass, President of the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College; and Don Worme, a native lawyer who is legal counsel for the National Committee on Justice, Assembly of First Nations.
Brass focused on how the education system should be combatting racist attitudes. "Our school children learn nothing about Canadian treaties," Brass said, making the point that Canadian students are taught an incomplete history of Canada that omits the story of the country before the arrival of white settlers.
Racial attitudes, Brass said, will prevail based on ignorance, fear and suspicion that someone is getting a larger share of the pie. He advocates the implementation of cultural studies, cultural events and the use of elders in the Canadian education systems, and believes that the curriculum in teachers' colleges must include at least one class in cross-cultural training.
Javed and Worme were in agreement with Brass that education is the key to combatting racism and talked of the need to convince Canadians that Canada is a multicultural nation.
Donald Worme reviewed the findings of the Nova Scotia Royal Commission on the prosecution of Donald Marshall, an Indian man who was jailed for a murder he did not commit. That miscarriage of justice could, and should, have been prevented - or at least, quickly corrected, the report stated. The fact that it was not, was due - in part, at least - to the fact that Donald Marshall is Native.
Worme concentrated on the recommendations that came out of the Marshall report, noting that they would be just as applicable in Saskatchewan. He made specific reference to the following recommendations, among others: