Tag Archives: bullying

An Inclusive Canada?

15 Oct

Not being included, not having a feeling of belonging, or of being welcome can be uncomfortable, lonely, angry, sad (to name a few) – all of which add up to a feeling of separateness.

Depending on who we are, this feeling of not being included (of exclusion) can be familiar or unfamiliar.
If it’s unfamiliar, we can walk through our days with a sense of belonging that we can take for granted.
But if exclusion is a familiar feeling, there can be daily reminders that we don’t belong and are not welcome – looks, comments, actions, not feeling safe, physical altercations, being ignored or left out…etc.

Bullying is used to exclude: to make someone feel alone, unwelcome and ‘less than’. It happens in schools, on the playground, in workplaces, on the transit, on the street – and through the media on a large scale.
Spreading fear of the ‘Other’ is a more insidious form of bullying, which creates a negative stereotype of a group.  “Othering” is a tactic often used to ensure people (populations) follow suit, and participate in the alienation of a person or a group of people. These fear tactics producing an “Us vs Them” mentality have happened throughout history with devastating results (Nazi Germany & Rawanda are two examples) and it is currently happening quite visibly to the Muslim population Canada – whether already living here or as a consideration for entry. They are not the only group experiencing this in Canada, but it’s a current and particularly public example.

If you haven’t yet read the article in the Globe and Mail by Sheema Khan published on October 7 (Fifty years in Canada and now I feel like a second/class citizen) please do.

And then please reflect on the type of country you want to live in, and how your actions contribute: a country that values inclusion and human rights for everyone, or one where those values only apply to some people?

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Copyright 2015 Annemarie Shrouder
Speaker, Author and Facilitator on issues of Diversity & Inclusion

Radio Show Host – Creating Families


The Power of a Name

7 Jun

This week in Ontario, Bill 13 (the Accepting Schools Act) passed. This Bill addresses bullying and includes clear reference to homophobia, biphobia and transphobia as types of bullying. Hooray! Naming is powerful in fighting oppression.

One of the aspects of the Bill that has received much attention is that Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) will be able to be named as such in schools. As you may have read/heard about, this caused no shortage of debate and disagreement among some school boards, educators and religious leaders.

The bottom line is this: when we name something, we can address it.

A GSA is a club which, by design, helps to address homophobia, biphobia, transphobia (the fear and hatred of LGBTQ people, which can manifest as verbal and physical harassment – bullying – exclusion and physical harm including death) as well as heterosexism (the assumption that everyone is heterosexual and that it is the only “normal” sexual orientation), and cis-normativity (the assumption that everyone is cisgender, and that maleness and femaleness is a binary). And the name suggests the mandate. It is a club where queer students and their allies can talk, strategize about how to make their schools safer, and support each other in these endeavours (as well as when incidents of the above occur). They are a safe space in a possibly otherwise hostile environment (in some cases) and a focal point for change even in accepting environments.

While a social justice club can, technically, do the same thing, if we can’t use the word “gay” in the club name, I wonder about the efficacy of dealing with homo/bi/transphobia in that setting – of naming the issues and dealing with them.

Naming something creates the space for it to exist. It validates it. And it’s the first step in addressing a problem because without a name, what are we really talking about?

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copyright 2012 Annemarie Shrouder
Author, speaker and facilitator on issues of diversity & inclusion.


Respect in the Workplace

2 Nov

On Monday I delivered a Respect in the Workplace training. The objectives were to raise awareness about appropriate and inappropriate behaviour, and what to do if you, or someone else, is being harassed or bullied at work.

What I have noticed in these sessions is that there are glaring examples of inappropriate behaviour that most of us can agree on, but that it is often difficult to understand that something we are doing, that wouldn’t bother us, can be causing someone else to feel uncomfortable.

In the world of acronyms, it is not surprising that there is one for this concept as well. My colleague Rhonda Hight introduced me to IBI – which sums up the reality and challenge of respectful workplaces and the Ontario Human Rights Code.


The bottom line is that regardless of our intent, it is the behaviour we choose – and its impact – that is taken into consideration in determining whether what we did is appropriate or inappropriate.

This can be challenging. What I see in workshops, is that while people may “get” that jokes or comments about race, culture, gender, sexual orientation etc are hurtful to those whom they target, it is often much more difficult to “get” that (for example) calling someone “sweetie” (or some other term of endearment), could be uncomfortable.

We may think that this last example is a shame – or too over the top – but that’s likely because we too think “sweetie” is a term of endearment. Perspective is everything. And in an increasingly diverse workforce we need to continuously find ways to learn about and appreciate the different perspectives of those we work with. So that we can all contribute to creating and sustaining respectful and safe workplaces.

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Copyright 2011 Annemarie Shrouder
author, speaker and facilitator on issues of diversity & inclusion


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