Tag Archives: Toronto

Rethinking the Toronto Air Show

6 Sep

If you live in Toronto or the GTA, and were home this past weekend, you likely noticed the Air Show. Or maybe your city has an Air Show as well? Read on.



The Air Show is an end-of-summer CNE-closing tradition in Toronto.
Does anyone know why?
I don’t, and I’ve lived in Toronto for 20 years.

Luckily it wasn’t as loud as I remember, so the piercing screams of the jets that come out of nowhere and hijack your senses for a few moments were minimal. So there have been some changes, it would seem. But still.

My mother grew up in Austria during WWII. When the planes thundered over our heads on a practice run on Thursday, she was a little freaked out. She has neighbours that recently arrived from Syria, and the 11 year old said it reminded him of home – but that he wasn’t scared. I was shocked and saddened by that.

This isn’t the first time I have thought about this, and every year it irks me more: We live in a city with many immigrants from war-torn countries (past and present). And yet we continue to have an Air Show – complete with fighter jets – as a festive end-of-summer spectacle of aeronautics. Hmmm…

What’s the impact on our fellow citizens who have experienced war first hand of seeing and hearing these aircraft overhead in their new home? Of having the Air Show be something festive? What does that say about our commitment to inclusion?

If the intention is to bring people together to celebrate the end of summer with some spectacle of delight, surely we can come up with something more peaceful and festive.

See more.

Copyright 2016 Annemarie Shrouder
Speaker, Facilitator, and Consultant on issues of Diversity & Inclusion

Sign up for my weekly Inclusion Insights!
Weekly emails to keep diversity and inclusion on your radar – shorter, with a little challenge for practice. 



Black Lives Matter = Opportunity for Growth

7 Jul

Black Lives Matter Toronto halted to Pride Parade on Sunday to make some demands of Pride Toronto.

It’s not the first and won’t be the last of their bold activism. And, as Naila Keleta-Mae writes in her Globe and Mail article, the point is that they make people uncomfortable.

Here’s my perspective about activism and marginalized groups.

In a society where one is marginalized, doing things the way that stays within the comfort zone of those in power often means that we wait, that there is lip service, that there is smoke and mirrors as people in power appear to be hearing. But no one is listening, and change doesn’t come. Simply put, when we play by the rules, we are often left waiting. And with no progress.

So I appreciate Black Lives Matter Toronto’s unapologetic tactics that disregard comfort and the status quo, and that make their presence known. Being seen is a necessary part of the opportunity to create change.

The issues they are raising are not new. And that should be a clue to underscore the above – that without discomfort, without someone being willing to stand up, be loud, be brave, think outside of the box, and not back down – the needle doesn’t move much. There are many great leaders throughout history who have used this approach successfully.

Could Black Lives Matter Toronto have used their honoured group status at Pride differently? Of course.
Would it have been effective? Maybe.
Would it have caused the amount of conversation, debate, and discussion? I doubt it.

Here’s why:
Because again, anything that happens within the comfort of how the system operates can then be swallowed up, massaged and fed back from the system in ways that are comfortable and don’t make waves. This often can create the illusion of change, but not real change.

If we remain in the margins as we fight, the mainstream doesn’t have to see us, and our pain is not seen. If we make the mainstream take notice, we run the risk of invoking anger. Sure, anger can cloud what people see and hear. But it also causes conversation. Visibility is an important part of change. So are real conversation and debate. And for getting at the real issues that a society doesn’t want to recognize, face or talk about. And we have to.

What’s happening in the Toronto LGBTQ and the broader community because of this latest move by Black Lives Matter Toronto, is that the underbelly of racism is coming out.

Racism is alive and well in Canada. Those of us who are people of colour know this to be true. We see it, feel it, hear it. I often experience incredulity from workshop participants (who are white), that racism still exists in this country. It does. Here it is.  And even now, it may be easily dismissed, overlooked and discounted as just anger. But it’s not.

And so now more than ever before, we have the opportunity – and must – delve into conversations that are otherwise often brushed aside, overlooked, silenced. Because Black Lives Matter are shaking things up and exposing the underbelly. Systemic racism is deeply rooted in our society. So deep it can be hard to see unless you are impacted by it – and sometimes elusive even then. Black Lives Matter Toronto is giving our city (and beyond) the opportunity to grow, because the only way we grow is when we are out of our comfort zone.

All lives DO matter.
And because this is true, we need movements like Black Lives Matter to remind of this – because not all lives are treated and seen as though they do.

See more. 

Copyright 2016 Annemarie Shrouder
Speaker, Facilitator, and Consultant on issues of Diversity & Inclusion

Sign up for my weekly Inclusion Insights!
Weekly emails to keep diversity and inclusion on your radar.

How we (still) use race to identify people…

22 Jun

I’ve been thinking a lot about the two recent shootings in Toronto and the role of race in how media gets reported.

Turns out I’m not the only one – earlier this week the morning DJs (Mark and Jem) on G 98.7FM brought it up and a few people called in.  True, the Eaton Centre shooting affected more people than the one on College Street this week, but how race is reported when crimes occur is an interesting topic of conversation from a diversity perspective. Race is a factor – not the only one, but a factor nonetheless in how media is reported. The question is, why? And why is it still happening in Toronto in2012?

Although the print media didn’t reveal the race of the Eaton Centre shooting suspect, the radio news apparently did.  The College Street suspect, on the other hand, was not racially identified.

The Eaton Centre shooting seems to also have been more widely covered by the news. Granted, more people were affected at the Eaton Centre, it’s a mall, and it is a popular tourist destination. But they both happened in public spaces.

If you pay attention to how suspects are identified in the news, you may notice that we are much more likely to hear about their skin colour if the suspect is not white.  It can’t be a numbers thing, since people of colour make up close to half of the city’s population (47% in the 2006 census).  It is therefore not about making it easier to narrow down the search.

So what gives?

Seems like regardless of numbers, people of colour are still the “Other”, and skin colour is still used as a marker of difference – when the person is not white. The result, in the case of crimes, is that “suspect” and “person of colour” are likely more closely linked in our subconscious…and voila, we have further ingrained stereotypes.

And it’s not just the media: skin colour is also a not-so-uncommon descriptor in personal life as well –  but again, usually only if the person isn’t white.  Pay attention for the next little while, and see.

Hmm….maybe we haven’t come as far as we’d like to think.


See more.

copyright 2012 Annemarie Shrouder
author, speaker and facilitator on issues of diversity and inclusion


MBA Diversity

12 Sep

I have spent the past 4 days with hundreds of Schulich MBA students. A colleague of mine was running the team building program for them, and I was in charge of the diversity session.

It was a great experience, and I couldn’t help but notice the diversity (or in some cases, lack thereof) within the over 400 students (full and part time) that came through over the four days:

– culturally, the majority of students were of South Asian origin, followed by Asian

– about 80% of the students were male

– there was no one with a physical disability (that was evident, anyway)

– racially, the majority of the students were Brown (various shades of “people of colour”), followed by White and then Black

And here is where the numbers stood out the most for me. In a sea of different skin colours, the number of Black students was so low that I think I can actually remember the faces of each one. I think the final number was 9 (5 Black women and 4 Black men). That’s about 2%.


It reminds me of town hall meetings about high secondary school drop out rates (also known as “push out” rates) for kids of colour in Toronto. But not all of the Black students were local, or even Canadian…

Things that make you go “hmm….”

See more.

copyright 2011 Annemarie Shrouder
author, speaker & facilitator on issues of diversity & inclusion
www. beeing.ca

Diversity & Inclusion à la Jack Layton

29 Aug

On Saturday afternoon I joined what seemed like thousands of people outside Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto for Jack Layton’s funeral. It was so good to be there, surrounded by an energy of hope and togetherness. This feeling, I thought, is what inclusion is all about: working together, sharing, moving forward together.

As someone who is committed to Diversity & Inclusion, several things Rev. Brent Hawkes included in his eulogy about Jack Layton struck a chord. I’d like to share them, and my thoughts about them, with you.

First, Rev. Hawkes shared that Jack believed in a broadly inclusive movement towards a better Canada, gathering all of us together. Jack Layton was an optimist, but he also knew that there was still a lot of work to be done. Rev. Hawkes told us that Jack believed in including people from different places, beliefs and approaches in one inclusive movement for a better Canada – and that this included working together in partnership and that different (and dissenting) perspectives were welcome.

In this work, true inclusion makes room for difference – to see it, hear it, and consider it in the movement forward, together.

Rev. Hawkes went on to share that Jack’s goal was to make life better and not to leave anyone behind.

This made me think of how easy it can be to not even notice that we are leaving some people behind (or leaving some people out) and therefore how important it is to check our assumptions and what we think is “the way it is”, and to practice inclusion.

Diversity is a fact and inclusion is an action. Rev. Hawkes added that Jack’s goal of making life better was about how we are with each other as we do the work, and what values guide us.

Finally, Rev. Hawkes told us that Jack Layton’s legacy is not about how much power we have, but how we use the power we are given, and how all of us exercise our personal power for a better world – in our actions and how we take those actions together.

Inclusion is a value and a practice. It is about how we do things, not just about what we do, or who is there. It is about gathering ideas, knowledge and perspectives and moving forward to create something new, together.

It’s a tall order for Canada, and also a tall order for many organizations. But if the energy on Saturday is any indication of the willingness that exists – we can do it.

Thanks Jack.

See More.

copyright 2011 Annemarie Shrouder
President, Building Equitable Environment

G20 Afterthoughts

28 Jun

Last week, a colleague of mine said that she felt like she was in a third world or paramilitary country when she visited the skydome. Those may not have been her exact words, but that is the gist of it. In preparation for the G20 here in Toronto, her baseball experience was marred by the presence of many police officers on Front Street.

I had to pause.

That comment has been swirling around in my head this weekend as I have heard and seen military helicopters, way more police officers in one space than I ever have, and have read and heard stories about looting and protest. This morning as I stood by the lake and watched the sun rise through the harbourfront highrise buildings to the East, a police boat was weaving it’s way back and forth between the island airport and the shore. A little eerie, I must admit.

But the significant difference that is ringing in my ears as an echo to the aforementioned comment is this:

We still have privilege. I can choose to go down to the fence and see the “action” for myself. Or I can stay at home and my life goes on pretty much as usual. Even the fact that we are complaining about it – the inconvenience. The expense. The hoopla – is evidence that we have some power (in general, if not in this situation).

The G20 is an event. And it will end.  This week the fence will come down, the police officers will disperse and we will all have a G20 story to tell – either exciting or not. But it will be in the past tense.

Which, for me, makes it very different than a “third world country” under a military or dictator regime.

See more.

Annemarie Shrouder
Speaker, Thought Provoker

© Copyright  Annemarie Shrouder 2010

%d bloggers like this: