Highlights from 360: Walls, 6 Degrees Citizen Space
Speakers: Margaret Atwood, Reni Eddo-Lodge, Regina Catrambone, Robert Johnson, Bernhard Schlink
2016 was the year of walls. Hard to miss the external ones, often newly constructed or noisily resurrected. But invisible barriers, the taller, more insidious kind, have also gone back up – or they’ve been there all along. Except now those walls are being rendered visible by groups traditionally kept marginal by them. Forces of disruption and social change speak truth to the power of barriers in our time. But can they actually bring any down?
The first 360 of 6 Degrees Citizen Space 2017 saw our speakers take on systemic, ideological and linguistic barriers. The conversation began with a quick reflection from each speaker on the connotations of walls — are barriers always and absolutely undesirable? In the round, our discussions addressed histories and ongoing structures of colonialism, institutional racism, questions of language, and the schisms and upheavals within our own putatively democratic societies.
“The spirit of the castle is contained in the drawbridge.” – Robert Johnson
“I’ll talk to white people about anything else – their dogs, Coronation Street, their holiday — just not race. Because it’s emotionally exhausting to have to make the case over and over again.” – Reni Eddo-Lodge
“Equal societies are happy societies.” – Margaret Atwood
“Don’t stigmatize the word migrants.” – Regina Catrambone
“The most difficult walls to overcome are the ones in our hearts.” – Regina Catrambone
“We must keep engaging.” – Bernhard Schlink
“The disease itself is that we don’t have a vision. We don’t have a world vision, a Canada vision. If we don’t have a vision we’ll never be more than what we are.” – Chief Stacey LaForme
“Often, if you point to the divisions, you’re told you’re creating the divisions.” – Reni Eddo-Lodge