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Courtesy of Ethnocultural Support Services on Instagram.

Ethnocultural Support Services launched their “Colours of Covid” campaign for the month of September, giving a platform to the missed and unheard dialogue about the ways the virus disproportionately affects people of colour.

The "Colours of Covid" campaign aims to spread awareness in a way students can digest. The campaign encourages reflection on socio-political issues by posting resources on their social media in hopes of educating Western University students on aspects of the pandemic they might not have thought about, like the “homework gap” and implicit bias in the healthcare industry.

“People are calling the virus racist, but they aren’t really sure why the virus is racist,” said Matthew Dawkins, ESS coordinator and a second-year SASAH and English language and literature student. “Ethnocultural Support Services wants to highlight the ways the pandemic disproportionately affected POCs, and outline it in a very clear way.”

After advocating for cultural issues within his high school, Dawkins wanted to change campus life and joining ESS gave him a platform to advocate the issues he cares about.

“Coming to Western, and [with] it especially being a predominantly white campus, it very much needs that discourse,” Dawkins said.

Azza Osman, a third-year nursing student, agreed, emphasizing the importance of having representation on campus.

“Being a minority in a predominantly white institution, having an organization that is catered towards advocating for individuals who look like me on campus, I felt like was very important and I wanted to be a part of that change,” Osman said.

ESS is a University Students' Council-funded advocacy team with the primary goal of creating a culturally inclusive campus, where students’ backgrounds are celebrated and diversity is valued.

“Western often lacks these spaces where we can see a lot of visibility for minorities, and Ethnocultural Support Services, one campaign at a time, is really trying to chip away at that,” said Insiya Fathima Moosavi, a second-year medical science student.

The "Colours of Covid" campaign covers a different topic each week. Last week concluded their “Diversity in Islam” campaign, which showcased the diversity within the Islamic religion by posting students' personal stories on social media, talking about how their individual cultures shaped their Islamic practice.

“One of my favourite parts of the campaign was that it really sought to place emphasis on the beauty of diversity,” Fathima Moosavi said. “Our participants were able to highlight the overlap between what their culture taught them, and what Islam taught them, and how that ultimately helps them not only become better Muslims but better people.”

This week’s campaign is called “Digital Divide,” which discusses unequal access to the internet across North America and the effects on Black and Indigenous people and low-income households due to lack of affordability and infrastructure.

ESS has also teamed up with LUSO Community Services for September, a London-based non-profit dedicated to promoting inclusiveness and prosperity in the community.

“We will be donating proceeds from our future fundraising projects to [LUSO] for the month of September,” Dawkins said. “We really wanted to highlight how the pandemic has affected POC, not just globally but in London.”

ESS knows their efforts to spread awareness and advocate for issues facing Black and Indigenous people and people of colour are not near over, and they plan to continue to bring these concerns to the forefront of campus conversations.

“There’s so much we can learn from different cultures, ethnicities and communities and what they teach within their cultures,” Fathima Moosavi said. “We can learn from that, and it’s up to us to go seek that out.”

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Sarah is a Culture Editor for volume 114. Email her at sarah.wallace@westerngazette.ca or find her on Twitter @sarahkwallace7

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