Diversity Thunder Bay (DTB) and its partners host a Celebration Breakfast every year on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (March 21).
The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination Celebration Breakfast has been held in Thunder Bay, Ontario for eight years. It is an initiative of Diversity Thunder Bay in collaboration with the City of Thunder Bay as well as various groups, agencies and individuals in the community.
The goal of the Celebration Breakfast is to foster an equitable community free of racism and discrimination of any kind. Over the years, the breakfast event has been host to various presenters, groups and organizations sharing their viewpoints and educating the community. Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, author of the book I Shall Not Hate, was the keynote presenter in 2014.
DTB wanted to create a voice in the community to address growing concerns about racism and
discrimination, since other forms of awareness were not providing the education and information that needed to be shared. Honouring March 21, the United Nations' International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, seemed to be the appropriate day for the launch of the Celebration Breakfast.
The Celebration Breakfast raises awareness of current issues in relation to racism and discrimination, and DTB encourages all organizations, community groups and individuals to participate.
Each year, DTB modifies the focus slightly to provide information on various forms of discrimination. Over the years, presenters have included the Honorable James Bartleman, Jessica Yee, Aboriginal Chiefs, local dignitaries and students. The program varies: sometimes it will have just a keynote speaker, and other times it will feature a variety of speakers and presentations. Youth have played an integral role in the event: "Racism Stop It" video winners were shown for several years, multicultural youth have shared their experiences of starting over in a new community/country, and youth theatre groups have acted out racism and discrimination scenarios.
Thunder Bay has a rapidly growing Aboriginal community, in particular, that DTB wanted to reflect in its breakfast celebrations. DTB had also undertaken research activities to document the presence of racism and discrimination in Thunder Bay over the past several years, and wanted to collaboratively acknowledge and address these issues before they had a negative impact on the social cohesion and fabric of the community. Thunder Bay is a great place to live, work and play, and DTB wants to maintain the quality of life that its residents currently enjoy.
The Diversity Thunder Bay Breakfast Working Group is well-organized and dedicated to offering an exciting array of presenters and information. An event planner is contracted to help secure sponsorships and arrange for registration and logistics, thereby supporting the professionalism of the event. The event is kept to a tight schedule to allow people to get to work in a timely manner. The breakfast menu is respectful of various cultures and yet diverse enough to be appealing. Also, having youth participate and present as part of the event reminds the attendees of the real significance of the message.
Making a Difference
In the first year of the breakfast, 50-75 people were expected to attend and organizers were pleasantly surprised by the interest of over 150 people. It now draws over 450 people annually and enjoys significant sponsorship from businesses and organizations including Confederation College, Lakehead Public Schools, Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board and the Thunder Bay Multicultural Association. The Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce is now a partner in the event planning and is the communication link to the local business community. In addition, proceeds from the remaining revenue have been used to contribute to local youth organizations for the past four years.
DTB is a grassroots organization that is unsupported by funding or staff. Its volunteer committee relies on sponsorship and ticket sales to run the Celebration Breakfast.
Vision for the Future
The event has grown and gained more community partners every year. At this point in its evolution, maintaining the level of interest, and continuing to spread the message about the elimination of racism and discrimination, is very important. The annual 'Respect' award, which is presented to a community champion, has been a new addition to the event that has been well-received.
About Diversity Thunder Bay
Diversity Thunder Bay believes that Thunder Bay should be a welcoming and safe place for individuals and groups regardless of race, ancestry, place of origin,
colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, class, creed, sex, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, education, marital status, source of income, same-sex partnership status, family status or disability.
DTB works towards an equitable community free of racism and discrimination of any kind. It consists of individuals and representatives of organizations working locally to celebrate difference and end racism and discrimination. In keeping with its mission to foster a culturally aware and equitable community, DTB welcomes diverse groups from the city. Established in 2000, its membership has grown steadily as DTB has worked, one initiative at a time, to raise awareness and educate the community.
Best Practice Contact
Lisa Beckwick, Director of Organizational and People Development and Co-chair of Diversity, Thunder Bay Celebration Breakfast
Cell: 807-626-4264 or Office: 807-346-2366
22 Ontario St. Thunder Bay, ON P7B 3E9