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A Community of Acceptance: Overview
Diversity Thunder Bay

"A Community of Acceptance: Respect for Thunder Bay's Diversity"

Sensitive topics such as diversity and race relations are difficult to explore. The use of race to negatively evaluate people - racism - can exist in many forms. Few people would openly admit, and may not even be aware of, ways in which they may have negative beliefs about people who are different than them. Rarely is racism and prejudice overt; they also exists in far more subtle attitudes. In addition, society's institutions may give an advantage to certain people over others. For example, those whose parents were highly educated are typically better able to do well in school because family supports are often in place. This enables good students to get better jobs and have other advantages. Thus society tends to reproduce itself. Systemic racism shows in such facts as lower employment or income rates for visible minority groups despite comparable education levels. The topic of diversity and racism is extremely complex and difficult to study.

A Community of Acceptance has two primary methods, designed to get different types of information. Taking a multi-method approach is likely to yield a better description of the issues and effects of the problem. The study assumes that some racialization exists, as this is described by media reports and affected individuals and organizations. The study does not assume how, where or to what extent racialization occurs

METHOD ONE: COMMUNITY SURVEY

A survey has been developed to access the information desired to assist Diversity Thunder Bay in preparing a Community Strategic Action Plan. The survey will be distributed through a number of avenues. A strategic sampling method was chosen as likely to generate the most effective response. Some surveys will be mailed to randomly selected residents. Surveys will also be distributed through Diversity Thunder Bay coalition members, and through selected multicultural and aboriginal organizations. Surveys will also be available at locations in town, including the public libraries, and the Lakehead Social Planning Council in Victoriaville Mall. Residents of Thunder Bay who wish to be involved are encouraged to pick up a survey. Over 900 surveys will be distributed.

One of the downfalls of this type of research on a sensitive topic is that response rates are often low. Therefore, the community is urged to participate. All surveys will be anonymous and confidential. The information provided will help Diversity Thunder Bay understand community awareness levels and direct its efforts most appropriately. As added incentive, all those who return a survey will be entered into a drawing for $50 dinner gift certificates donated by Neebing Roadhouse.

METHOD TWO: INTERVIEWS & FOCUS GROUPS

Surveys yield general information. Interviews have been selected as a means of getting deeper and richer in-depth information about the race relations in Thunder Bay. This data will add additional insight into the ways in which racialization occurs, and the social locations in which it happens. Interview subjects will be drawn from those who respond to the survey and are willing to be interviewed in greater depth. Interviews will also be conducted with other community members and organizational representatives. Focus groups may also be utilized. Ongoing thematic analysis will be conducted until a saturation of analytic categories is achieved.

Since the intent of the interviews is to understand the experience in depth, rather than a shallow but generalizable level of knowledge, members of the public who are willing to talk about their experiences of racism are encouraged to contact the research coordinator.

Diversity Thunder Bay hired an independent consultant, Randolph Haluza-DeLay, to coordinate the study. Mr. Haluza-DeLay has a background in applied social research, has taught at Lakehead University and will provide an impartial standpoint for the project. He is the principal of CSoP Research and Consulting.

CSoP Research & Consulting