Making a Difference by lonyoo


									Help Make A Difference DVD Facilitator’s Discussion Guide
For Individuals, Workplaces, Educational Institutions and Community Organizations

Introduction No matter our background or personal characteristics, we all want to be treated fairly and with respect, and to be included and have the opportunity to participate fully in our communities and workplaces. To build strong and welcoming communities and workplaces, we need to ensure people are not excluded or discriminated against because of their personal characteristics. The short clips in the Help Make A Difference DVD briefly look at a number of issues of identity and diversity. This guide is designed to start the conversation on these and related issues, and to encourage people to reflect on their own identities, attitudes, and behaviors regarding diversity in Alberta. Individuals who want to think more about diversity may also find this discussion guide useful in helping them reflect on the issues raised by viewing the DVD and in this guide. Let’s start by looking at some of the terms we often hear people using.

Definitions To be sure we’re all talking about the same thing, here are a few definitions for terms often used in discussions of diversity and identity. Of course, these definitions aren’t written in stone; like all language, we expect these terms to change with time and according to their use in specific contexts and situations. 1. Culture All of the ideas, beliefs, values, knowledge, and ways of life of a group of people who share historical experiences. Culture is not a fixed or static aspect of our identity, but a complex and lived reality for its members. 2. Ethnicity Refers to one or more elements of culture, but may include religion, customs or language, or a shared sense of common origins or ancestry, or a common geographic origin. People can belong to more than one ethnic group, or choose not to identify with a particular ethnicity. 3. Ethnocentrism A preoccupation with one’s own cultural or national group, and belief in its superiority over others.


4. Prejudice Unfairly judging individuals or groups based on negative and incorrect information. 5. Stereotype A false or generalized idea about a group of people that categorizes people without respecting individual differences. 6. Discrimination Unfavourable treatment—intentional or not—of individuals or groups based on their ethnicity, gender, disabilities and perceived disabilities, religion, age, skin colour, or other aspects of their identity. 7. Racism Opinions and actions resulting from the belief that one group is superior to another. Refers to attitudes and social structures that exclude or oppress people, typically based on skin colour, ethnicity or nationality. 8. Race A commonly used means of categorizing people based on the belief that there are innate biological differences between people from different regions or with different physical characteristics. One can reject the notion of “race” as a biological category while recognizing that racism and racist attitudes and barriers exist. 9. Disability An inability or limitation in performing certain tasks, activities, and roles in the manner or within the range considered normal for a person of the same age, gender, culture and education. It may refer to a physical, mental or sensory condition. 10. Inclusion This term literally means the state of being included or embraced, and often refers to specific steps taken to ensure that all individuals are provided a fair opportunity to participate fully in all aspects of society. Other Diversity-Related Terms There are some good on-line sources for defining terminology. Please refer to the Appendix for some of these resources.

Suggested Activities for the Help Make a Difference DVD Notes for facilitators: • The DVD and this guide are designed for use within group settings to stimulate reflection, discussion, and the acceptance of differences. • Ensure participants have a pen and paper before beginning, as it is helpful to have them write brief notes for each question or activity before discussing.


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A whiteboard or flip-chart may help in recording and sharing answers and stimulating further questions. No participant should be forced to share or comment on any particular issue. Everyone is a resource and has something to offer. The facilitator should be skilled in dealing positively with conflict and contentious issues should these emerge. It is recommended the group engage in trust-building exercises or activities before beginning this or any discussion. The topics raised in this discussion can be sensitive. Participants can be emotional or have strong views about them. Be aware of everyone’s feelings and be prepared to make appropriate interventions, if required. Have fun! Though these matters are very serious, we always learn more when we are attended to respectfully and with the judicious inclusion of appropriate, good-natured humour.

Helpful Hints: • Set ground rules for the discussion before beginning. These may include: use respect when listening to others, be open to alternate viewpoints, ensure all participants have an opportunity to share their thoughts, and try to express your views using “I” statements (e.g., “When you say that, I feel discouraged”). • Facilitators may want to select certain questions or activities based on the particular group. • Depending on the participants involved, these questions may stimulate thinking and discussion on issues of diversity and identity beyond those specifically mentioned. Be prepared to go there. • Encourage participants to find specific ways to take ideas raised in these discussions into practical and meaningful applications to their own families, workplaces, and communities so that everyone involved can help make a difference. There are human rights laws in place that prohibit discrimination in certain areas of activity, and based on certain personal characteristics. However, we each also have a responsibility to treat others with respect, to accept differences, and to work at keeping Alberta a great place to live and work for all of us.

A. Pre-Viewing Questions

More than simply our “ethnic background,” our culture and identity are only partially visible to others. Just as with an iceberg, what is observed on the surface is just a small part of our selves that does not reveal the depth of our total identity, including our cultural identity. 1. We all make judgements of people when we first meet them. Forming first impressions can be a valuable part of normal social behaviour. a. What are some assumptions about you and your background that people often make about you when they first see you? (Answers will vary)


b. Which of these are accurate, and which are false? (Answers will vary) 2. Think about the aspects of one’s own identity that are visible to others. Write down those elements of people’s identity, including cultural identity, that are readily noticeable on the surface. (Answers will vary, but may include: gender, physical ability, ethnicity, social class, clothing, skin colour, language) 3. Now think of the dimensions of culture or identity that are invisible to others. Write down those elements of culture or identity that are not readily noticeable to others. (Answers will vary, but may include: sexual orientation, religious beliefs, ethnicity, historical traditions, mental disabilities, relationships, assumptions, and values) 4. We each have a cultural background, whether we can trace our heritage to a First Nation, to several generations of Canadians, to a nationality or to an ethnicity. a. How do you value or celebrate your cultural background in your day to day life? (Answers will vary, but may include: spending time with family and friends, celebrating cultural and holy days, eating special foods, wearing cultural dress, attending cultural events, and organizing awareness projects) b. What are some specific ways that your workplace could be more accepting of your cultural identity? (Answers will vary) c. Who in your organization would you approach if you had a suggestion about promoting diversity issues (i.e., cultural awareness initiatives, celebrations, inclusion of other faiths during traditional holidays, special events) in your workplace, educational institution or community organization? (Answers will vary) 5. In which situations might some people keep particular aspects of their identity hidden from others? Write down the reasons someone might wish to do this. (Answers will vary, but may include: when there are people around who hold racist or narrow-minded views, when the situation seems unfriendly to diversity, when your identity is associated with negative traits by certain people, when you don’t wish to have to educate people on your background or identity, when you think others will treat you differently if they know something about you.) 6. In what situations might you find particular aspects of your identity to be beneficial or valuable? (Answers will vary, but may include: when you have an opportunity to help others learn about those with similar backgrounds, when there are those around you who seem receptive to diversity, when you are invited to share aspects of your culture or identity, when you are among those who already know and understand your background, when you are engaging in specific activities, or events or ceremonies and enjoy “insider” or “member” status.)


B. While You Are Viewing All of the ideas you will hear expressed in the DVD are unscripted and represent a variety of personal viewpoints on diversity issues. You may wish to take brief notes while watching the video, or replay and view the video a second time. The segments in this DVD focus on a limited number of diversity issues. While you are watching, consider the following questions. a. Which personal characteristics seem to be the main focus of this DVD? b. Which ethnic, cultural or marginalized groups are not visibly represented? c. What other important diversity issues are not addressed? d. Identify and write down one statement you most agree with. Why does it resonate with you and your experiences? e. Identify and write down one statement you would like to explore more deeply or learn more about as a result of viewing this DVD. What specific sources could you consult to gain further information or understanding? C. Post-Viewing Activities 1. Using your notes from viewing the DVD, think of the various statements that the participants made about diversity issues. a. Which one line from the DVD best reflects your own views on diversity? Explain why. b. Select one line and reword it or add to it to strengthen its message. Be prepared to explain how your revisions strengthened it. c. Select one line that seems to have the most impact for you at this time, and explain why. d. Select one line and find a concrete illustration of how it could be put into action to help make a difference in a real-life situation. (For the facilitator, each of the following lines was spoken by a participant in the Help Make a Difference DVD, and may be shared as examples of quotations sorted by topic). On difference I feel diversity gives a lot of strength to Canadian society. People want to feel that whatever their background may be, ancestrally or otherwise, is something that they should feel free to express and be proud of. When people are different from you, the biggest thing you can do is learn, learn, learn from them. People who are different can bring new perspectives to society. The more we know about each other, the less we fear our differences.


On the value of diversity in the workplace There is a strong business case to valuing diversity and to maximizing the contributions of everybody in our workforce. I think employers have to put a deliberate focus on inclusion if they want to capture the value that each individual can bring to a role. On human rights I think that one of the human rights that’s the most important to me is the right to know that you have rights, and the right to be able to understand them. Everyone should be a voice for human rights. On persons with disabilities People’s reactions are different for someone like me rolling into a room [in a wheelchair] than they would be if someone walked into a room. Let them be a person instead of their disability. A person in a wheelchair is just that: a person. He’s just in a wheelchair. We’ve got the same hopes, dreams, fears, drives, and desires that everyone else has. It is important to feel that you belong. Friendly advice on acceptance Treat people equally. We have to relish these differences and understand them in order to work with them. Try and change the world by changing yourself, and to always be kind and to lead by example. If you respect me, I will respect you. You want people to treat you a certain way… you need to treat them that way first. Disagree with me. Absolutely. But listen to me. For, listening, I think, is the foundation of building respect. Try to not be judgemental and try to be open-minded about other people.


On the source of our attitudes Everyone is a product of where we grew up and who we grew up with. There comes a time in your life when you have to put aside what you’ve been taught or what’s been accepted and make up your mind for yourself. On taking action to promote acceptance It’s something we really have to be engaged in, and make sure it is in action in our communities and in our families. It is essential to challenge yourself as an individual, but I also believe that it’s essential to challenge others, as that’s when change occurs. 2. A danger of making assumptions based on what we see on the surface is stereotyping, or falsely categorizing people in negative ways based on their outward appearance or membership in a particular group. We may not want to admit that we stereotype others, as it is considered a negative behaviour. a. What groups routinely get stereotyped? (Answers will vary) b. What can be done to confront and refute the negative stereotypes about people based on their membership in certain groups? By each of us, individually? By organizations and in workplaces? By members of these groups? (Answers will vary, but might include: countering stereotypes when we hear them, censuring racist humour, raising awareness among friends and co-workers, implementing anti-discrimination policies, enforcing existing anti-discrimination policies, educating people of the dangers of stereotyping, public awareness campaigns.) 3. What are three specific steps that could make your workplace, organization, community or classroom more inclusive to persons with mental and physical disabilities? 4. Think of at least three specific steps you can take in the coming week to help make a difference to increase the full participation of all Albertans in our social, economic and cultural life of the province.


Conclusion This DVD and guide have offered you and your organization a starting place to reflect on diversity and your role in the helping to make a difference in building welcoming communities and workplaces. It is up to each of us to make Alberta a place where our differences are understood and valued, and where we can all live and work feeling that we belong, and are appreciated and respected by others. As one participant featured in the DVD expressed it: We all want the same things. We all want to live in a society where we feel secure, where we feel respected, and where we feel safe.


Appendix: For Further Reading From the Government of Alberta: Help Make a Difference website For the Brochure, 34 Tips on Building Better Relationships Between People of All Backgrounds For More About the Individuals Featured in the DVD x.asp For More About Significant Days sp Alberta Children’s Services: Bullying Prevention Initiative ion%20Initiative Alberta Community Development: Workplaces that Work: Creating a Workplace Culture that Attracts, Retains and Promotes Women ex.asp Alberta Human Resources and Employment: Diversity: A Strategy to Meet Your Need for Skilled Workers yKey=2156 Alberta Human Resources and Employment: Finders and Keepers: Recruitment and Retention Strategies yKey=3499 Alberta Human Rights Commission Alberta Learning Information Service: Employment Series for Persons with Disabilities: Complete Set yKey=35


Other Helpful Resources: Alberta Association for Multicultural Education Canadian Race Relations Foundation Diversity Toolkit web resource at the University of Calgary Statistics Canada’s Ethnic Diversity Survey

Glossaries of Diversity Terms From the Canadian Race Relations Foundation From the McGill Equity Subcommittee on Queer People From the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission From the Ryerson University School of Journalism From the Society for Safe and Caring Schools and Communities: Safe and Caring Schools for Lesbian and Gay Youth—A Teacher’s Guide

Guide developed by Darren E. Lund, Ph.D.

This DVD (2005) has been prepared from a series of Public Service Announcements (PSAs) developed by the Government of Alberta in partnership with Global Television Alberta. The Help Make a Difference initiative was developed to create awareness about the importance and benefits of diversity in our communities and encourage Albertans to contribute to building an inclusive and respectful society through their own actions. For more information, visit or contact


Alberta logo Global logo Funding provided by the Human Rights, Citizenship and Multiculturalism Education Fund


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