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  • Writer's pictureMichèle Newton


As a community, there’s work to be done to embrace diversity and become fully inclusive. It's time to change the diversity and inclusion conversation.

Barrie’s population is changing and becoming more diverse. To spark discussions and drive change, Michèle Newton’s quarterly interview series “Community Conversations” welcomes guest Irfan Toor, Principal of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion with the Simcoe County District School Board, on Monday, June 24 from 7:30-8:30 p.m. at the Barrie Public Library, 60 Worsley St. in Barrie.

“In a city where 92%* of the population is not a visible minority, seeing little diversity around you is one thing. Experiencing racial microaggressions and ‘othering’ on a regular basis is quite another,” says Michèle Newton, host of Community Conversations and creator of Our Mosaic Lives.
“These behaviours, unconscious or not, reflect a lack of awareness and understanding around diversity and inclusion. As a community and as individuals, the time to work toward inclusion is now.”

Educators and employers, parents and community members are encouraged attend Community Conversations, taking “One Step Forward” on their journey toward inclusion. In a live interview, Toor will share lived experiences, student and educator perspectives, and unpack the role unconscious bias plays in relation to diversity and inclusion.

“Taking one step forward and looking at ourselves first, allows us to explore the unconscious biases we all have,” says Irfan Toor, Principal of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion for the Simcoe County District School Board.
“Inclusion involves considering multiple perspectives, asking ‘Why is it done this way?’ and rethinking some of the frameworks we live by. As an educator and community member, I’m passionate about shaping positive change and creating new spaces together.”

Syncing with Community Conversations, a small but mighty Our Mosaic Lives Art Exhibit called “One Step Forward” is currently on display through June at Barrie Public Library’s Downtown Branch. It features portraits of local students and key inclusion statements. The Simcoe County District School Board student portraits were captured during a recent Social Isolation and Inclusion initiative.

Community Conversations listing:

Time: 7:30-8:30 p.m.

Location: Barrie Public Library, 60 Worsley St. Barrie, ON

Monday, June 24, 2019 - “One Step Forward”

Guest Irfan Toor (Principal of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion with SCDSB) share lived experiences, student and educator perspectives, and unpacks the role of unconscious bias.

Monday, September 30, 2019 - “Think Differently”

Guest Andrea Murray (Activist, Comedian, and Changemaker) shares experiences from her journey to uncover personal bias and challenge white privilege.

Monday, February 25, 2020 – “Making Change”

Guest to be confirmed

Monday, May 25, 2020 – “Better Together”

Guest to be confirmed

*Source: City of Barrie ‘Village of 100’ and Statistics Canada 2014 Census

Photo by Graham Hookey


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