TORONTO — Let’s Get Uncomfortable’s latest event will discuss anti-racism in South Eastern Ontario in anticipation of what the Ontario Government has dubbed the “Year of the Ontario Staycation.”
Taking place Feb. 23, the hour-long event will bring together tourism and hospitality professionals from across the region and will be co-hosted by RTO 9, a regional tourism organization funded by the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport representing businesses in Prince Edward County, Kingston, the Bay of Quinte, Lennox & Addington and Frontenac County, Rideau Canal, 1000 Islands Gananoque, Brockville and Cornwall & SDG Counties.
The event will feature a frank conversation between LGU organizer Shalene Dudley and Saiqa Sheikh, co-owner of JERKebago and founder of Diverse Roots Rural Ontario, who will challenge viewers to think critically about their role in building an equitable hospitality & tourism sector.
Topics of discussion will include:
- The realities of racism BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour) hospitality & tourism business owners face in South Eastern Ontario
- Structural shortcomings that prevent the advancement of BIPOC-owned businesses
- Steps non-BIPOC business owners and organizations can take to be anti-racist employers, colleagues and service providers in their region
“The tourism and hospitality sectors of South Eastern Ontario, by nature, represent the identity, the challenges – and most importantly, the heart – of their communities,” says Dudley. “With that in mind, these industries must also play a leadership role when it comes to helping those communities evolve into stronger, safer and healthier places for people to live, work and visit.”
“Anti-Racism: Let’s Get Uncomfortable” is scheduled for Feb. 23 from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. ET. It is free to attend and open to all travel professionals. Register here for access. A 15-minute Q&A session at the end of the event will invite further dialogue from participants. Those interested in submitting questions in advance can send them to: email@example.com, or via an anonymous form here.
Tourism and hospitality professionals who wish to contribute to the event’s conversation can do so by sharing their own experiences with racism in rural Ontario here. Submissions will be shared during the discussion, and are completely anonymous.
In addition to being the co-founder of anti-racism travel consultancy UNPACK, Dudley is also the founder of Latitude Concierge Travels in Oakville, Ontario, a member of The Travel Agent Next Door.
Dudley was recently nominated for the RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Award, which is part of the RBC Momentum Awards, and is currently in a very rigorous application process after accepting the nomination. Dudley’s application will be reviewed and vetted by the independent judging committees. Top regional applicants will then be audited for “accuracy and positive standing in the community,” she said. Winners will be announced at a gala in November.
Dudley is also applying for the ‘Rise Up Pitch’ competition for Black Women Entrepreneurs across Canada. According to its website, Rise Up is an opportunity for Black women entrepreneurs, at any sage of business, to pitch for the chance to win thousands of dollars in financial awards and resources.