DC’s Social Justice Week prompts thoughtful discussions on equity

Durham College’s students and employees had the opportunity to listen and engage with a diverse group of speakers who helped elevate awareness on social inequality, during Social Justice Week in January.

The digital event featured speakers from within the DC community and beyond who shared their experiences and perspectives on a number of social issues including homelessness, child welfare and addiction.

DC Faculty of Social and Community Services professor and event organizer Jason Vassell dubbed the event a success.

Five speakers led seminars on social justice-related concerns and these speakers enlightened and educated all who were able to listen in on the sessions,” he said.

DC Journalism professor Alvin Ntibinyane discussed the role of journalists in promoting social justice and fighting oppression. He said that too often journalists have served as the voice of the powerful.

“To combat marginalization, journalism should report on and from marginalized communities,” he said, adding that journalists should seek out diverse cultural voices—especially from under-represented communities. He also spoke about the role of journalism in exposing systemic violence including reporting around murdered and missing Indigenous women.

Ntibinyane further challenged the role of hard objectivity—giving equal voice to both sides of an issue—and said many organizations have dropped objectivity as a goal, instead replacing it with truthfulness and fairness.

“I think objectivity in journalism has been the biggest enabler of oppression because in most cases it represents a false equivalence between the oppressor and the oppressed,” he said.

Chris Cull, a DC alum, discussed his docuseries Surviving Addiction and his lived experience with mental health and addictions as well as recovery.

In her presentation, Trent University researcher coordinator Uzma Danish shared a photo-voice project called Exclusion in Immigrant Experiences of Securing Professional Employment.

“Photo-voice is a very powerful tool in research where participants are given a camera and it is up to their discretion as to the photos they take and how they relate those photos to their experiences,” she explained.

In Danish’s research, participants related their experience as immigrants searching for work in Durham Region. Themes shared by the participants included exclusion, discrimination, devaluation of their credentials and their experiences, prejudice and a lack of information they felt they had when they were looking for employment. The research included a call to action from participants.

Members of the DC community who would like to hear recordings of the events can contact Jason Vassell to gain access.

Social Justice Week received support from the Durham College Student Association and Durham College’s Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion via RISE.

Photo: DC professor Alvin Ntibinyane and alum Chris Cull were featured speakers during this year’s Social Justice Week event.