When it comes to promoting inclusiveness and diversity in the North, there are numerous groups that have taken on the task of making sure no one gets left behind.
But there is a new group that is on the scene and their goal is to do it from the ground up.
Diversity NWT and Nunavut is that group and they had their first public event this past weekend: title sponsors of the Diversity NWT and Nunavut Galaxy Spring Classic soccer tournament at the Fieldhouse.
Adelaide Mufandaedza is the group’s president and said the Black Lives Matter protests last year was the impetus behind the formation of the group.
“When that started, we wanted to get involved,” she said. “It had a great impact on us, emotionally. We thought about our children, what it meant for them going forward and we decided that in our part of the world, we can do something to make a difference.”
There were conversations at home with their children, she added, about why the protests were happening.
“We wanted to let them know that what was going on wasn’t right and what can we do to help our children to grow from this and learn from it,” she said.
Mufandaedza said she and other parents came together to organize something in Yellowknife in order to show everyone that inclusiveness is important and diversity involves everyone.
Thembi Mpoko, another parent who is on the board, said sponsoring the soccer tournament was the perfect way to introduce people to what they’re doing.
“We are looking for ways to expand and to collaborate with other people, hence why we collaborated with Yk Galaxy,” she said.
Defny Torindo, Yk Galaxy’s administrative co-ordinator, said having Diversity NWT and Nunavut jump on board made perfect sense because sports has always been something which brings people from all walks of life together.
“We have different age groups, starting at five years old,” she said. “Teaching them diversity at a young age is something that is very important and having kids from many different backgrounds in a small community like Yellowknife makes it important.”
There were conversations among the teams about their understanding of diversity and the answers were surprising, she added.
“The kids really know what’s going on,” she said. “The kids all wore the T-shirts with the (Diversity logo) on the front and we asked them what diversity means to them. The responses were very touching. They know what’s happening in the world.”
“Get them when they’re young and you can teach them,” added Mpoko. “The core message is to say it’s not just about Black lives, it’s about everyone’s lives. The North is becoming very multicultural and so how do we live together and celebrate our differences to make our city really great?”
The group has received federal funding to help get off the ground — money made available to assist Black-led organizations — but Mpoko said that’s not the ultimate goal.
“Our goal is about embracing everyone,” she said. “When we put our proposal together, we told (the federal government) we wanted to embrace everyone, no matter your background. And we got approved.”
And there’s no fear of the funding being taken away if there are questions about the sorts of events being sponsored by the group, said Mufandaedza.
“For example, if you look at the leadership of Yk Galaxy, it’s mostly Black, so we’re supporting a Black-led organization,” she said.
Going forward, the group is looking to be a part of or organize other events around the city, which is all part of the plan Mufandaedza said the group has.
“Sports was our launching pad but we aren’t trying to say we will be at sporting events exclusively,” she said. “Whatever ideas we have spinning around — it’s all about getting a feel for everything. None of us have much experience in something like this and it’s a learning platform for us. We’re trying our best to stick to the guidelines we’ve been given, work with that and when we learn, we can implement more things in the future. We have dreams and we have a vision to reach everyone in our community.”
The learning part is the key because, as Mpoko stated, it’s a group of five people from regular walks of life.
“We have three nurses, a lab technician and one IT guy,” she said. “We are looking at hosting a multicultural festival in the summer. We don’t have the details nailed down yet but we have collaborated with other non-profit groups in the city to put on something big and amazing for everyone.”
The big drawing point for that? Food.
“Just know that there will be good food,” said Mpoko.