A Critique of Multiculturalism

On Monday, September 11, a panel of community members gathered at London Public Library to discuss the dark side of the lived experience of multiculturalism. This podcast episode features Raghad El Niwairi, Marie Fiedler, Leroy Hibbert, Jasmine Jasani, Tanaz Javan, and Heenal Rajani in conversation with James Shelley.

Canada is a nation that has multiculturalism baked into its legislative framework, and we are actively encourage, especially at a national level, to celebrate multiculturalism as a key feature of ‘Canadian identity’… But do we collectively ask the right questions? What are the negative impacts or side effects of multiculturalism?

Who defines the parameters for what counts as a cultural identity? And who is then forced to fit inside the box?

Could an anti-immigration movement gain political traction in Canada?

This is a speculative discussion considering the future of the immigrant experience in Canada. What would it take for nation known for its diversity to change its inclusionary policies? Panelists Anton Allahar (Professor of Sociology at Western University), Victoria Esses (Professor of Psychology at Western University), Stephanie Levitz (journalist at The Canadian Press), and Erna Paris (author From Tolerance to Tyranny: A Cautionary Tale from Fifteenth-Century Spain) weigh in on the question. (Full speaker bios)

A video edition of this event (with closed-captioning) is also available.

The Heuristic of Hate: Dissecting Islamophobia

In this podcast episode, Rifat Hussain and Tristan Johnson reflect on the history of Islamophobia and the impact that it has on the lives of Muslims today.

Rifat Hussain is the manager of Orientation Services for Newcomers at the Cross Cultural Learner Centre, and she has played an integral role in helping settle hundreds of refugees and newcomers in the city. She is also the chair of London’s Diversity, Inclusion, and Anti-Oppression Advisory Committee. Rifat’s family immigrated to Canada from the United Kingdom when she was very young. She has degrees in Criminology and International Politics. Rifat is deeply invested in efforts to support cross cultural communication, cultural diversity, anti-bullying, and interfaith dialogue.

In 2014, Tristan Johnson was working on a Masters in American Cultural Studies and researched the experiences of American Muslims after the September 11th attacks. Digging through the statistics, he charted the way Islamophobia morphed from anxiety and fear in 2001, to a more generalized hatred by 2014, complete with attribution to anyone who looks or dresses like someone from Turkey, the Middle-East, North Africa, or South Asia. Now working on his PhD, Tristan is revisiting his 2014 research, investigating the impact of ISIS on Islamophobia and examining the way that Islamophobic attitudes have spread in Canada and Europe.

Seeing the Present in the Past: Immigration in North America

Our contemporary policies and attitudes about immigration in North America did not materialize in a vacuum. They have long histories, which shape and hue many of the perspectives we inherit today. In this conversation, we explore the ‘backstory’ to the present.

Stephanie Bangarth is an Associate Professor in History at King’s University College, at the University of Western Ontario. She is also an Adjunct Teaching Professor in the Department of History at Western and a Faculty Research Associate with the Collaborative Graduate Program in Migration and Ethnic Studies (MER) at Western. Her research interests also include Canadian immigration policy, social movements in Canada, and political history.

Shamiram Zendo, born in Aleppo Syria to an Assyrian family, moved to Canada in 1999. She is currently completing her Phd at Western University in the Health Information Science Program. She has worked extensively with the settlement of privately sponsored Syrian/Assyrian newcomers in the city of London.

HIV is Not a Crime

HIV is a disease that we have turned into a crime, argues Ryan Peck. The Centre for Research on Health Equity and Social Inclusion, Community Legal Services at Western Law, and HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario hosted this lunchtime talk with Ryan Peck to discuss practices, policies, and reform efforts pertaining to the criminal prosecution of HIV non-disclosure. (Recorded Monday, February 13, 2017 at Innovation Works)

Ryan Peck graduated from the University of Toronto, Faculty of Law in 2000. Since 2007, he has been executive director of the HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario (HALCO), where he was previously both an articling student and a staff lawyer. Ryan has worked as a staff lawyer at the Advocacy Centre for the Elderly, and in the Tenant Duty Counsel Program at the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario. He has also served as criminal duty counsel at Toronto’s Old City Hall. Ryan is a member of the Ontario Advisory Committee on HIV/AIDS (which provides HIV-related advice to the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care), chair of the Ontario Working Group on Criminal Law and HIV Exposure, and member of the executive committee of the board of directors of the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network. He is also the recipient of the 2016 Legal Aid Ontario Sidney B. Linden award.