March was an active month for equality promotion in Canada and around the world. As Canada and the member states of the UN continued their preparations for the 2001 World Conference Against Racism, many stopped to recognize International Women's Day March 8 and the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination March 21.
For International Women's Day and week, Carleton University's equity services in collaboration with the Pauline Jewett Institute of Women's Studies and the school of Canadian studies marked the week with a lecture series which included University of Ottawa law professor Martha Jackman on "Women and Poverty: Can the Charter Make a Difference?" and Karen Somerville, chief spokesperson for Esgenoopetitj (Burnt Church) on "Keepers of the Culture: Women, Clan Mothers and Burnt Church."
March 21 was broadly recognized in several venues. At Brandon University, events coordinated by the university's international students, First Nations services, and the students' union included a candle-light vigil to remember victims of racism world-wide.
At Saint Mary's University, lunch hour and evening events were extensive. The university hosted employment equity discussions and a presentation on the Donald Marshall decision by Candy Palmater, a native lawyer. Video presentations included "Back in the Day" by Elizabeth McCormack, and a special film screening of "The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg." The week- long events were capped-off on March 23 with Caribanza, hosted by the university's Caribbean Society.
At Carleton, events to mark March 21 and to spark interest and dialogue on racism and equity continued for an additional week.
Several three hour workshops were provided to all senior administrators. A work-shop on racial and cultural diversity was facilitated by an external consultant firm, and as one participant put it, "It served to foster diversity in a meaningful proactive way rather than through now traditional reactive measures."
Carleton's equity coordinator Dr. Edward Odei Kwadwo Prempeh is already moving in this direction. He is developing a partnership with a local Ottawa high school to mentor students from predominantly immigrant or non-white, non-advantaged socio-economic backgrounds.
"The mentoring program will hopefully encourage and provide support to these students to develop initiative and achieve the goal of a university education despite historic barriers," Prempeh said.
Majorie Brown, the race equity coordinator at Carleton noted that the Carleton University Students' Association voted to create a full-time race, ethnicity and cultural facilitator position.
"In conjunction with this decision, CUSA created a new teaching excellence award in accordance with its current mandate to heighten awareness, and increase, promote, visibly represent and actively educate its members on cultural representation on campus, cultural and ethnic diversity in Canada and ongoing socio-political or historical issues related to the struggle to maintain cultural diversity globally," she said.