New initiative tackles racism and hate crimes

By Lindsay Ducharme

The Multicultural Association of Wood Buffalo, along with Fort McMurray Victim’s Services, are taking on a new fight in our community to tackle racism, in hopes of putting an end to racism and hate crimes in Wood Buffalo.

“Tackle Racism is an interschool competition. We brought it to the community because we believe it’s important to build a conscious attitude towards dealing with racism and hate whether it is in school or a social setting,” explained Vicky Augustin, Multicultural Association of Wood Buffalo events and volunteer coordinator.

“The competition is a way for students to have a chance to voice their opinions and have a welcoming and inclusive company in the regional municipality of Wood Buffalo.”

The contest, which is now running, is open to students from grades three to 12. Applicants will be split into three different categories, grades three to six, seven to nine and 10 to 12. All area schools, as well as home schooled students, are encouraged to submit an entry.

“We ask for only one entry per student. Entries may be in the form of artwork, essays or poetry. Essay submissions should be between 500-700 words with presentation of original words and content, care must be shown to avoid plagiarism,“ Augustin said.

“We are looking for submissions which showcase how the student perceives racism, or how racism has affected them, if they have experienced it. Judging criteria is creativeness and expression of thought and the inclusion of racism or hate crime.”

Judges of the contest will span the community including members of the RCMP, the Multicultural Association, along with art and poetry specialists. Numerous prizes, including iPAd’s and Kindle e-readers, will be awarded in each category.

Augustin believes this contest will be an opportunity to highlight the similarities among people rather than focus on our differences. “We need to teach children early that racism is not right and that you can’t base an opinion about somebody on their ethnicity. The way of thinking can be changed and it should be changed.”

“Growing up, I didn’t realize I was different from any of my friends until it was pointed out to me. My best friends growing up were Persian and Indian and we realized so many things we had in common, everything you think is so different, you start talking and you find out everybody has a crazy Aunt or Uncle, or the grandmother who can’t remember anyone’s names, and the fear of God and wanting to live a good life, everything else should work itself out. People are people because they are different,” she continued.

Those interested in submitting an entry to the “Target Racism” contest can download a registration form at Registration forms, along with original work should then be emailed to no later that March 5th, 2014. For more information on the Multicultural Association in Wood Buffalo visit their website at