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Photo courtesy Jennifer May-Ksionzena

Diversity Days celebrate second year of on-campus festivities

By Nikayla Goddard, February 27 2018 —

With over 30 participating parties developing and supporting more than 45 events, Diversity Days offer University of Calgary students and staff opportunities to explore and celebrate a variety of groups on campus.

Through workshops, lecture series, hands-on activities and open discussions, Diversity Days aim to “educate and highlight our shared commitment to inclusion and spark conversations about diversity, equity and inclusion for the next 150 years,” according to their website.

The second annual Diversity Days ran from Jan. 30 – Feb. 1. Valerie Pruegger, director of the Office of Diversity, Equity and Protected Disclosure (ODEPD) and project lead, says Diversity Days are “an opportunity for everybody else to just learn more about various aspects of diversity, equity and inclusion.”

The three-day event began with welcoming remarks from U of C president Elizabeth Cannon and keynote speaker Evan Adams, with his presentation “One Story of 2-eyed Seeing — Respect and Personhood in Education.”

This year, a “Deans for Diversity” panel was also hosted on the opening day, welcoming almost all U of C deans to a panel discussion of their diversity-driven actions. Pruegger said this shows that more traction is being gained as more people are talking about diversity and wanting to get involved.

Workshops and lectures included events like “Create a Dreamcatcher,” :Growing Up Deaf,” “How to Plan Inclusive Events,” “Race in Pop Culture” and a “KAIROS Blanket Exercise,” which according to the U of C website, “is an interactive learning experience that teaches the Indigenous rights history we’re rarely taught.”

Cheryle Chagnon-Greyeyes, the administrative coordinator at the Native Centre, said that activities like the Blanket Exercise and other Diversity Days initiatives give people the opportunity to step into other people’s shoes.

“I’ve seen changes in people’s hearts because they’ve participated in this exercise,” she said, adding that these hands-on activities make difficult topics and conversations palpable.

“There were events going on all over the place for [Diversity Days] — lots of events with a lot of input from both staff and students and faculty,” she added.

Pruegger explained that the ODEPD works with partners to support various activities on campus throughout the year that are meant to advance communication and collaboration.

“I think people should know that it is a true partnership across campus with people who are very excited to pitch in and facilitate their own sessions,” Pruegger said.

Although this year’s Diversity Days have passed the ODEPD, the Native Centre and other organizations around campus are continually promoting a variety of events surrounding the topic of diversity. Upcoming events include Indigenous Awareness Days in March hosted by the Indigenous Students Club, Black History Month in March and the Walking with Our Sisters’ commemorative display at Mount Royal University from April 29 – May 13.

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