Interschool competition aims to Tackle Racism

by Lindsay Ducharme

The Multicultural Association of Wood Buffalo has launched their second annual Tackle Racism interschool competition earlier this month.
The competition, in which school aged children are encouraged to submit original poetry, essays or artwork, is just one way the Multicultural Association is extending their message of acceptance to the youngest Wood Buffalo residents. Coinciding with the internationally recognized day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Mary Thomas, executive director of the Multicultural Association of Wood Buffalo, believes the competition gives children the opportunity learn about the dangers of racism and discrimination at an age were their beliefs are being developed.
“We feel that kids in our community don’t get a chance to look at a topic with a pragmatic mind and actually get an opportunity to have discussions in their schools, where teachers can lead a discussion and the discussion won’t be lead into something that should not be. We wanted to encourage teachers to have those discussions with kids, to guide their artwork into a positive direction so that the attitude towards this is not something detrimental or something that will cause problems in our community, it’s something that will build our community.”
Tackle Racism is open to students in grades three through 12. Entries will be split into divisions for grades three to six, seven to nine and 10-12. Prizes will be plentiful and “unique” and will be awarded during an awards ceremony on March 21st, the International Day for the Elimination Racism and Discrimination, at MacDonald Island. During its inaugural contest, Tackle Racism received close to 100 entries, a number Thomas expects to grow exponentially this year. “Last year we had a handful of schools participate and between 50-100 entries, it was great. This year we are expecting much more than that so the judges are going to have a really tough time evaluating. This year we are engaging our partners, the Justin Slade Youth Foundation, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Girls Inc., the Boys and Girls Club and both the public and catholic school boards to encourage greater participation.”
The contest is open now through February 20th. Thomas hopes the contest instills a lasting impact on those who participate.
“These kids are the future of our community. Wherever they may go, they will take this with them and it doesn’t matter if they live in this community or not, they will take it with them, the mindset of being collaborative, being inclusive and not discriminating against anybody.”
Those interested in competing in Tackle Racism interschool completion can access the application online through the Multicultural Association’s website at Participants are asked to scan copies of their original work as well as the application signed by their teacher to verify that the work is authentic.