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South Island Dancers
Photo: Rahnghild Watson Reinartz


by Rahnghild Watson Reinartz

"It is our difference that gives us identity. It is our pride that gives us strength. And it is our understanding that gives us unity."
Esther Supernault

South Island Dancers welcomed the participants to the Making History, Constructing `Race' Conference held at Camosun College and the University of Victoria in September. The Conference explored the issues of race, racism and racialisation bringing together community activists and academics to share their wealth of experience and knowledge.

The seed for this event was planted two years ago by University of Victoria graduate students, faculty, and UVic History of Racialisation Group. One year into the planning members of community agencies working in anti-racism initiatives joined up with the initiators. Working in the area of anti- racism brings with it its own unique set of chal- lenges. As a group, the Committee endeavoured to keep communication clear and open, acknowledging that everyone's experience is valid. The idea was to create an environment within the Committee that would serve as a model for the Conference through acknowledging each other's differences with respect and bridging the distance towards understanding.

The opening day was dedicated to the community learning process. Five workshops provided insight into issues of community concern. Each of the five workshop ended with its own recommen-dations, but the overall recommendation coming out of the day was the need for individuals and agencies to form coalitions in order to move towards the reduction of racism.

On Saturday and Sunday participants had the opportunity to attend presentations of research papers and artistic happenings.The papers ranged from theoretical ways of thinking about `race' to analyses of particular problems in contemporary society, such as racism in educational institutions. The artistic presentations included readings by writers of colour, films and theatre performances.

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