Organizers of the White Privilege Symposium at Brock University over the weekend had a simple goal: to bring the issues of racism and privilege to the forefront.
“We did accomplish what we set out to do because we had multiple lenses through which to gain insight to how exclusion is tied to power, white privilege, colonialism and racism,” said co-organizer Dolana Mogadime. “WPSC arrived at a crucial time for Brock as well and many universities across our nation, as we are having to account for how we are responding to racial issues on campus.”
More than 400 people from across the province attended the conference, including nearly 100 Brock students.
“It was a true success. We’ve received lots of positive feedback from participants about their WPSC experience, both in terms of the quality of the keynote speakers and interactive workshops; and in the way that Brock University took a leading role in bringing people together to have these important conversations,” said co-organizer Brad Clarke, Director, Student Life and Community Experience.
He said, in addition to encouraging dialogue about challenging topics, the symposium was meant to increase the profile and reach of Brock’s Racial Climate Task Force and “to highlight the efforts underway to better understand the dynamics of race and racism within the Brock context. And to initiate activity that will improve the racial climate at Brock.
“The Symposium was a key step towards each of these goals,” he said.
Among the keynote addresses was that of Brock Chancellor Shirley Cheechoo, who gave a moving first-person account of the residential school experiences for Indigenous children in Canada.
“Her personal story is important for every Canadian to hear,” Mogadime said. “We will work better together on the goal of understanding and advocating for Indigenous rights in relation to social justice after hearing Chancellor Cheechoo’s insights.”
The conference organizers are hoping to continue the conversations that were started at the event through a call for papers related to the WPSC conference.