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Warren Smokey Thomas and Eddy Almeida

Be the light that expels the evil of intolerance

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On November 16, OPSEU/SEFPO underscores the International Day for Tolerance, which promotes respect and mutual understanding among cultures and peoples. In a province as rich in diversity as Ontario, that value is one that every resident must embrace and foster.

No one is completely exempt from the influence of intolerance, which includes unconscious attitudes and behaviours. We owe it to ourselves to learn how to be more respectful of difference so we can avoid hurting, even inadvertently, our co-workers and neighbours, our friends and family.

OPSEU/SEFPO is committed to moving past mere “tolerance” towards promoting equity, inclusion and appreciation of difference. Today, more than ever, it remains a top priority for our union.

In addition to a very busy Equity Unit, OPSEU/SEFPO is very proud to have eight equity committees and caucuses. They advise the union’s leadership and membership on ways of making the union ever more reflective of the diverse population we serve and better able to respond to their unique needs. They also join in OPSEU/SEFPO’s calls for an end to systemic discrimination once and for all.

The key to this is listening and learning, encouraging, motivating and taking action. To this end, 10 years ago we launched our social mapping project, whose goal is to help plan, improve and monitor our services to the membership. It also better allows us to create priorities, programs and policies that promote diversity and inclusion.

We’re also focused on providing learning opportunities to combat discrimination and oppression. OPSEU/SEFPO’s Member Education Unit is constantly at work producing tools that help members do this work in their own lives, in the workplace, at our union events and in society.

However, while corporate actions help, their effect can be limited. That’s why we’re also focused on engaging the membership at the local level, for instance, by encouraging and helping locals set up anti-racism committees.

Help make the International Day for Tolerance a springboard for a better Ontario. Visit the Equity Unit’s webpage. Browse the many resources available on the Member Education page. Please also check out the union’s dedicated Anti-Racism Information and Initiatives webpage.

At the very least, talk to someone who’s different from you in some way – someone with a different first language, a different faith, a different sexuality – to learn about the ways they’ve experienced discrimination and what you can do to make everyone feel valued because of their differences, not in spite of them.

We wish all members an enlightening and constructive International Day for Tolerance 2020.

In solidarity,

OPSEU/SEFPO President Warren (Smokey) Thomas
Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida, OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer