My thoughts on Heritage Days and the Diversity Ideal

Well…. sometimes more than 140 characters is required.

Twitter erupted today regarding the “whiteness” that was our Heritage Day’s Festival Judges. Four people whom I know, in their own way, to be involved in a fight for a better city, a better province and who each frankly would reject without fail any concept of inequity amongst our wonderfully diverse citizenry. These people are outspoken warriors for the Canadian ideal… either as politicians, traditional journalists or web-personality.

In the very original set of posts on the subject, someone raised the question of an all-white panel of judges for this year’s festival. Something I had noticed, but firstly dismissed, as an (IMO) attempt to find the best possible influencers to help gain even more exposure for one of our most popular festivals. I didn’t ignore for long, and chimed in with what I thought was a pretty innocuous tweet… then all hell broke loose.

Never, ever, did I (Or I think anyone else who initially raised the issue) think the issue was about the volunteers on the panel, or frankly even a nefarious intent of the festival organizers. It was simply, in my opinion, the strategy of organizers to find the most influential voices (in their opinion) to be the “celebrity judges”. I think it is THIS strategy (if it was one) that was flawed.

If we can all just park the idea that we are criticizing intent, I really believe that there is room to review the thought process.

By making diversity a priority, we open up the possibilities to different perspectives. Visible minorities have different experiences and life perspectives. Assuming that THESE four judges speak as influencers to all communities, is potentially a fallacy. Each community has influencers, they just may not be uber-tweeters, as we seemed to end up with.

By hoping for more diversity, I WAS NOT belittling any one culture or ethnicity, the judges, or the other thousands of volunteers who make this event an amazing Edmonton success story.

I just think we can  simply raising the bar even higher, in an already very tolerant and diverse city. One I really hope can have this discussion, without thinking we are attacking each other personally, but working together towards as stronger ideal.

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