This podcast was recorded on the ancestral lands on Treaty One territory, the traditional territory of the Anishnawbe, Cree, Oji Cree, Dakota, and the Dene peoples, and on the homeland of the Métis nation.
This is Humans, On Rights. A podcast advocating for the education of human rights.
Here's your host Stuart Murray.
My guest today on Humans On Rights is Charlotte Enns.
She is the director of the Arthur V. Mauro Centre for Peace and Justice at ST Paul's College at the University of Manitoba.
Charlotte has a fabulous background, both academic and lived experience which we're going to explore.
Let's take a moment and find out who my guest is and a little bit about her personal journey to get to becoming the director of the Arthur V. Mauro Centre for Peace and Justice.
First and foremost, Charlotte Enns.
Welcome to humans on rights.
Thank you very much, Stewart.
It's a pleasure to be here.
Let's talk about where you started, where you were born.
What got you interested as a young woman?
When you maybe pivoted into the issue around human rights, How did you How did you get going on your journey?
Wow, Wow, that's going back aways.
I am from here.
I'm Winnipeg Born and raised.
I did go to university in Ontario at the University of Western Ontario because I was interested in communication skills and improving communication and Children.
I had done some volunteer work at that.
Organization's name has changed many times, but society for Manitoba's with disabilities.
Now I think it's called Manitoba possible.
I did some volunteering there as a teenager and really enjoyed working with the students who use different ways of communicating, then spoken language.
And so I went to Western to take their speech well.
Communication disorders, speech, language therapy programme, which we didn't.
We still don't have a programme for that here in Manitoba.
That's why I went out there initially, and through that process I ended up getting very interested in working with deaf Children and particularly deaf Children whose first language is sign language.
Here in Canada.
It's primarily American sign language and what I realised in working with those Children and that community is, you know, my programme was very clinically focused, which had a lot of positive things about it.
But in that medical model, the individual is often the source and the solution to the problem.
And so you look at remediating that person to make them more normal, so to speak.
And what, working with deaf Children and the deaf community confronted me with this real dissonance between that medical model and then when I would go and interact with deaf people, I was the one with the problem.
I didn't know sign language.
I realise that normal is really a moving target, and we need to broaden what that is in terms of our understanding in that way.
And certainly it made me look at some of my training and say There's some things here that aren't being considered and that really started, if I guess, focus on justice in a way because I felt like many of the deaf Children that I worked with were very intelligent, very capable, but really limited in their literacy skills, their ability to read and write English.
And I felt that that was a real injustice, and it was because of the way we've been teaching them, I think, and expecting them to learn to speak and listen and not focusing on the abilities that they do have to use language in a different form in a different modality through sign language.
So let me just explore that for one second because I think that, you know, there's so many angles here to talk about and touch on, and particularly as you talk about sort of an injustice and, you know, and it becomes a human, right.
But Charlotte, when you were younger, you were in, you know, sort of grade 1 to 12, and you started to get involved as in volunteering, and you started at that point interact or be in a position where you could interact with Children who were deaf.
How was it that you came upon that I, you know, like a lot of kids, you know, they spent time in areas of sports and doing different things are learning music.
I mean, this is quite a very interesting area that has really kind of been something that you have used to make a difference, and we're going to talk about that.
But let's go back to how you got involved in that.
I had very good advice from a teacher.
And so I hold teachers while my father always said teachers are next to angels.
So there was a lot of respect for teachers in our household to he would say that if I criticise the teacher, obviously, that was his comeback.
He didn't like to listen to any of that.
And I think that's a good, good way of looking at things.
I loved teaching.
I mean, I was one of those kids that set up my dolls in a classroom format and had my little chalkboard and pretended to teach all the time.
In fact, my younger brother will definitely admit that he was put through a lot of lessons and activities as one of my students.
When I was in high school, there was a real I guess there were lots of teachers and and so, you know, it wasn't really advised that maybe you go into teaching because they didn't need any more teachers, so to speak.
And and if you did, you should really specialise in something.
And although I did quite a few sports, you know, and I thought about being a fizzy teacher, it wasn't my passion in the same way as some other things.
The same with music.
I I love music, but I thought I don't know if I could teach that.
I thought, you know, one of the things I'd really be interested in is this idea of Children that struggle to learn or, you know, have difficulties.
And one of my teachers said, Well, you know, before you make that decision, you should really do some volunteer work with Children with disabilities and see if you like that, that it was very good advice.
And that's how I got involved with that.
And I ended up working at a camp in the summer, and it was, you know, really a positive experience.
And I mean, there's there was a young woman, well, young girl, I guess in a team drop in group.
We were playing cards and I believe she had cerebral palsy.
She was in a wheelchair.
She was nonverbals with non speaking, and she didn't really have any other way of communicating them, kind of grunting and pointing and that sort of thing.
And and we were playing cards and she was getting very agitated and moving around and sort of squirming in her chair and making noises.
And, you know, I couldn't figure out what was going on and this happened several times, and finally what we figured out is she was trying to tell me that one of the other boys was cheating.
I thought, you know, this This isn't right either.
She knows a lot of what's going on here, and yet she can't tell, Tell us about it.
And so that's why I mean, I've never really heard of a speech therapist growing up.
I mean, they're not that common.
And certainly back in the sixties and seventies, they wouldn't have been in schools very much.
That's what got me interested in that area to begin with, you and I.
You know, it's an interesting thing, Charlotte, because the as we have society have sort of developed at some point.
You know, a lot of those Children and even maybe you might argue, because you're an expert in this area.
But even today that that this is quote sort of normal, you've got to be sort of a normal.
There's this normality, and that means that you should be able to have all of the faculties that you should be able to walk and speak and do all of the things and not every child.
Not every human being has that ability.
And they typically, you know, years going by would get left behind.
I mean, if there's something wrong with you, then you sort of let's move them aside because, you know, they don't seem to fit quote unquote the norm for you to sort of see that at at your young agents sort of get so passionate about it.
You must have had a real made such a lasting impression upon you because you've gone on to do research, to talk about how to improve that and tell us a little bit about how you have used the experience when you were in in high school and the experiences you just shared with us to advance some of the opportunities with Children who and I want to be careful because, you know, every time I use a term, I want to make sure that if I don't say it properly, Charlotte, please correct me.
But, you know, you talk about the word maybe maybe with Children with learning disabilities, and I don't know if that is a negative attachment or if that in fact, is what is deemed to be sort of the term that people will use in today's society.
Yes, and I mean that is that does change, and I think it does depend on the individual.
I do use that term learning disabilities Sometimes it's just referred to as learning differences, which may be takes it away from that deficit kind of idea.
And I think that's really what you want to get to it.
There are a lot of differences between people, but they don't have to matter in a negative way, and I think that's where hopefully we're getting, too, with a lot of things that we're learning about about differences in people.
But they're there.
We don't want to ignore that.
It does mean you have to do some things differently or that they our differently abled.
But it doesn't mean that they can't participate, you know, and even partial participation is completely acceptable.
And that's that's the way I think our schools are moving and our society as well.
And are you finding Charlotte?
Is it are we starting to get to a point now where schools are becoming more inclusive so that you know, Children that might be in a chair so they need to access to any wheelchair access to get in and around schools in and out or issues where people have.
You know they have to sign.
For example, Are they starting to integrate that more and more in the grade school level?
Or is that something that still is very much a work in progress?
It's hugely improved, I would say.
And there's huge differences and definitely moving towards that.
It is still a work in progress.
I think it's very challenging for schools two for every school to meet, all the various needs of all Children.
Some of the Children require very specific expertise, and so you can't always have that available everywhere.
But I think all schools can be welcoming and make efforts that way.
And I think that's the general approach certainly across Manitoba in Canada and becoming that way throughout the world, which is very positive.
And I think that's that's really important and and yet, you know, I know that that's there's always I I teach a course on this, obviously at the university and I try to frame the course around paradoxes because I think that within inclusion, there are still some unresolved issues and and can they ever be resolved in a way that meets everyone's needs is a big question.
But, you know, one of those paradoxes is How do you How do you include and be welcoming to everyone, but still respect some of the unique cultures and the unique characteristics of people, so that there's a place for fostering that which is often done with when people gather it, You know who are similar have similar values, similar beliefs, beliefs, similar ways of being in the world.
And yet inclusion kind of encourages everyone to mix and be together and and be open in that way.
And so you want to maintain some of that identity and some of that understanding of who they are in a unique way, but also, you know, be welcome to everyone.
And it's challenging.
Yeah, it is.
And I think that on so many levels, and I agree with you, I think teachers, you know are there incredible.
I mean, they make such a difference in their passion about trying to teach and be part of that process.
And, you know, they also, as you said, they have their limits as to what they can do because if you're really sort of step back and and looked at, you know, kind of in maybe a utopia sort of setting, you know, being at school it started, you know, was always the three R's kind of started.
And then it's, you know, kind of moved away from that and started to morph into really looking at education as a part of what we are as a society and so understanding that there are differences in students understanding that they learn in different ways.
You know the notion around conversations about a girls only school, you know, and and my two daughters went to Balmoral Hall for a couple of years and then went to a mixed school.
And so you know, there's there's great conversations around that, and I think it's fantastic.
One more thing before we move on to this whole issue of the Moral Centre for for Peace and Justice Charlotte.
I learned when I was at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, as we were doing, going through our content that a lot of on the written word we had to have French and English.
Of course, being a national museum in Canada being a bilingual country.
But it would also I learned.
And this is one of the things that was incredible for me about being part of that museum project is there was a lot of learning for me.
But I did learn, of course, that you have a S L, which is English sign language, but also l s Q so that as you're doing and I believe it's still called L s Q.
Am I correct for the French part of that?
You've got, you know, to be able to sort of sign in both languages, which is super important.
But I sort of just learned that.
So I just look at the involvement that you've had, and I really admire what you've done and what you continue to, because it is really a part of who we are as a society.
And I love the way that you talked about the fact that you saw it as an injustice, because that's clearly what it is.
And and there's Yeah, I think the idea that there are different sign languages within Canada and even across the world is often surprising to people.
That's probably the most frequently asked question I get is well, why isn't sign language Universal And I say, Why aren't spoken?
Language is universal.
It's the same principle we have, you know, community of users and multiple languages have developed in that way.
Yeah, and Charlotte, you will need to put you on the spot.
But it just occurred to me, you know, with the issue around what's happening in Canada with the notion of trying to respect the indigenous cultures and some of the not talking about the tragedies, of course, about what we're finding with these murdered Children in these graves.
But the indigenous culture There's so many different languages.
Indigenous languages, Are you aware, Have they developed a sign language for the many, many indigenous cultures that there are existing Canada thing about languages, you don't develop one.
It emerges from a community of users, and there certainly is research that for exactly the reason you say, because the First Nations people have so many different languages and different nations across North America, they actually communicated with each other through signs through hand gestures, and that kind of thing, they're the best information on this is actually in the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.
They have some recorded video of some very early First Nations leaders communicating because they traded amongst each other as well and interacted, and so because they didn't speak the same language they created this system.
We don't have great records for that.
It isn't something that was ever used to teach Children or in schools or any kind of formal way.
It was used as this kind of intermediary language to interact.
But there certainly are indigenous deaf people now across North America who are trying to revitalise some of those signs trying to incorporate First Nation perspectives into signs.
There's been a lot of changes to some of the signs that were used to represent, like The sign for Indigenous has also changed, just like we use the word indigenous or first Nations.
Now those kinds of terms have entered into American sign language.
That's the sign language I know and use, So I'm sure it has influenced other sign languages as well.
But I don't know of any like in working with indigenous deaf Children.
It's another language that they need to learn, and right now, typically, it is a s L that's being used, at least in Manitoba with those kids?
No, fair enough.
And I appreciate you appreciate that explanation.
So let's pivot a little bit now about what you currently do as the director of the Arthur View Moral Centre for Peace and Justice.
As I said at ST Paul's College here at the University of Manitoba.
Tell me about what?
Not that there's a typical day, but what sorts of things are you working on as the director of the centre Charlotte, What sorts of things that particularly through this covid piece, are the things that you've pivoted or change to, or what are you currently working on out at the centre right now?
Okay, well, first, I should just explain that the centre is is just a small portion of my work.
I'm still primarily a faculty member in the Faculty of Education and do my teaching and research in that area.
And the directorship is something that kind of is on top of some of those tasks.
And the purpose of the centre is primarily as as an outreach and promotion community promotion kind of work.
So a lot of what we do there is to bring together various scholars within the university because peace and conflict studies.
Although we have a programme in peace and conflict studies, it's very interdisciplinary.
So you have people across the university and that area who do work that supports peace and justice in different ways.
And so what we try to do is share their give them an opportunity to share their work with the community, and we do that in several different ways.
The most typical probably is sort of our brown bag lunch presentation sessions.
We've typically done that on campus, and this past year they were all online, and I think that was actually a really great forum because we had much larger audiences than we do.
People didn't have to navigate parking, getting to Fort Gary campus and all those sorts of things so it catered to or it was more accessible to people beyond just those who are on campus anyway.
What we've been doing in this past year is featuring a lot of the alumni from the Peace and Conflict Studies programme, so people who have graduated from that programme and are working in the field actively came and shared some of their research and some of their work over the year.
And we plan to do that this next fall term as well.
Because all of the those sessions which happened usually about three or four each term, are also going to be online.
I wish I could tell you what's coming up, but we haven't finalised that schedule yet, but that will be out soon.
And thank you for that explanation.
Charlotte appreciated one of the things that I know.
The founder, Arthur Moral, who is one of these, you know, sort of iconic human beings who has had such a positive impact on the city of Winnipeg.
But really, frankly, a much broader impact than that.
But you know his comment.
I remember talking to about one point Charlotte and he when I was at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and he was making the comment that you need peace and justice to then understand what human rights are.
And, you know, I love the conversation with them, and I just wondered from again your perspective if somebody said to you, you know, Charlotte, in your capacity.
If there was such a thing that we had to focus on one area first or second.
Would you see that there is a continuum that goes peace and justice into human rights?
Or how would you sort of explain that to an audience that was just learning about what the difference is or if there is between peace, justice and human rights?
Yeah, well, that's a big question, and I don't think there's any right answer.
Obviously, those are all things that that are critical and really, in a way, define each other.
I mean, what is peace other than people having access to basic human rights and and feeling that there is some freedom for them to express themselves in the way they want for them to grow and learn and develop in a positive way?
I I probably would agree with Dr Moral that you do need to establish some sort of peace in the sense of being able to focus on the needs of society of community, which then allows the human rights to be there in place for everyone within that community.
So if I had to choose what comes first, that's probably the way I would say it as well.
And so and fair enough And, uh, you know, eloquently said, Charlotte, thank you.
Is there a challenge?
You know, people always talk about, you know, this this strive for world peace.
And, you know, it's such a big sort of subject matter to say, Well, you know, we need to have world peace.
Of course we do.
But you know that conversation gets so hijacked so quickly because all you have to do is turn on the six o'clock news and realise the challenges we have in the world.
You know, stepping back to the notion that you know the Moral Centre for peace and justice.
You know, they do great work out there, and they're not going to solve world peace in a day, a week, a month, a year.
But you're doing some great things to lay some foundations so people can start the educational conversations around those subject matter.
Charlotte, can you talk a little bit about some of the things that take place around the you know, whether it's conflict, peace and justice?
But some of those issues that are dealing that you're dealing with or that the centre is dealing with.
So as I said, we do.
We do have sort of these more practical kinds of activities that we try and do every year with with sharing information, like through the the brown bag lunch sessions.
As I said, we also have a lecture series that bring in people from outside, often outside the country, who are working in in other areas and and have really good insights into some of the conflicts or some of the ways of resolving conflict.
And so we usually bring in people for lecture series in that way, there's also the storytelling festival, which happens in the spring, usually in April.
Unfortunately, it didn't go ahead last year because there is something really just like any kind of live performance.
You just can't replicate it on video in the same way.
And so we made the decision not to hold that festival last year, but the storytelling festival.
Although it is kind of arts based and entertainment, in a sense, it's also very much focused on teaching peace and teaching conflict resolution.
And really, I would say that's one of the key strategies that all of what we do at the centre is based on.
If you can listen to other people's stories.
If you can understand other people's points of view, that is the pathway to peace.
That is the way that we're going to get to world peace.
If even if that's an abstract concept in some ways.
And so, yeah, that's really a primary focus.
Yeah, and I would just ask Charlotte, Do you?
Is there an indigenous perspective?
You know, the whole looking at how indigenous and First Nations people with their culture, how they look at their form of justice and and it's it's quite different than sort of when we talk about justice.
Sometimes we think about law and order justice.
Their approach is quite different.
Is that something you can share with us about some of your knowledge or experience?
Well, I don't want to project like I'm an expert in indigenous reconciliation or ways of justice, but certainly that's something that we that has been part of the foundation for the Morrow Institute.
I mean, it started off primarily looking like the mission was looking at the Abrahamic faiths, so Jewish, Christian and Muslim in that way.
But certainly indigenous people being such a big part of Canada has definitely become part of our focus.
And I think in the in the in this last year were taking that on much more seriously to work more closely with the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, which is also on the U of M campus, and to incorporate that more into a lot of the things that we're doing.
And, of course, the storytelling festival has always had indigenous storytellers as part of it.
What we've learned from that is that storytelling is, I mean, it's a very important part of indigenous culture, and it's very as an educator, I've learned that it's a very big part of the of their teaching.
And so, whenever questions are asked their answered with stories, and whenever a conflict arises, there's time to sit and tell stories.
What I've learned from that is it's a very effective way of interacting with people, having some kind of a sharing circle to begin any kind of interaction or meeting or discussion, having some way of being aware of at where everyone's at and the perspectives they bring before you.
You talk about what you want to accomplish, how to move forward, and I think it goes very contrary to some of the ways that we certainly function at the university, and so it's a really good call to kind of reflect and let's see about how we can do things differently.
And I mean, that really is what is so great about, I mean university.
I mean, it's It's such a high place of learning and challenging and thinking about different ways and be open, and that notion that it's not a matter of a conversation about who's right or who's wrong.
It's just what's your view and why is your view that way?
And how can we kind of come together on that?
I want to pivot for second Charlotte to talk about International Day of Peace, which is September 21st, which I believe is also the indigenous fall equinox.
In the same day.
The theme which I I Googled, I Googled and looked up is the road to lasting peace, leveraging the power of youth for peace and security.
So that's kind of the thematic for this September 21st International Day of Peace.
I googled the theme of what it is for 2021 the theme is the road to a lasting peace, leveraging the power of youth for peace and security.
And I was just gonna ask you when you hear that.
And that's the theme.
What comes to mind for you?
Well, I I think that's just an excellent theme right now, because that's really where the change is coming.
The push for change is coming from, and who's going to make the change?
I think we have had to recognise in this last couple of years how powerful youth are in driving change in our society, a group that's often been ignored in the past.
But when it comes to climate change, when it comes to indigenous idle, no more.
All these movements are coming from youth, and they are recognising that things have to change or they're not going to have a peaceful world or a world to live in in any way.
And I think it's gotten to the point where that just can't be ignored at all.
And in fact they're really driving a lot of the impact and that you know, the actions that people are taking.
You've got youth speaking at, you know, at the U.
You've got youth leading some of the main movements to make this kind of change.
And so I think that's really important, and I think it is a good motivation for all of us.
This is who we're doing it for.
Some of these changes won't affect us in our lifetimes, but we need to be aware of those coming behind us in that way.
I support what you're saying when you think about adding to the list.
I mean, we could go on, but you know, the black lives matter list you.
You look at sort of the youth that are driving that conversation or, you know, south of the border, the, you know, love affair they have with with guns south of the border and after every tragedy, it seems that there's more and more younger people that are coming out and just saying, You know, we have to change this you know, their voices are very strong.
Charlotte and I certainly support them.
I just sometimes wonder aloud, you know, and I'll ask you started you the question.
Are they being given the fair chance or the fair opportunity or the fair platform to take their voice and then look at putting it into action because I do think that you know, one of the things about conversations that we're having today.
It's kind of that educate, mobilise and then take action.
And sometimes I wonder if they're not running into roadblocks on the action piece.
Well, yes, I think certainly they are.
And I don't think that's because of anything they're doing, but because of some of the well, I'm not that I know that much about it.
But I think that's really more about other people taking some of the responsibility and and supporting that who are in positions of change.
I think that's where the push is going to come from as they keep pushing, people aren't going to be able to ignore that, and so some of those things will get into the courts, will get into some of the places where change can happen and be taken up by others who maybe have a little bit more authority, more power, more voting, say, or whatever it takes.
They're having that influence in some way.
Are we there yet?
No, probably not, right?
Certainly, Social media, they're very savvy and they've used that, you know positively.
I unfortunately, could have a whole other discussion about social media, how it's not so positive for a lot of people.
But there are elements that have made it positive.
So, Charlotte, I was going to ask you, you know, in your capacity.
And I know you've got a number of sort of areas that you oversee, but you know, in in specifically when we talk about your capacity, is the director of the Arthur the Moral Centre for Peace and Justice.
I just want to ask you kind of a question of why do you think it's important to have an international day of peace?
Well, I think it's really important to recognise that maybe not take it for us anyway in Canada to not take it for granted.
And I think that's something that we're facing.
We're realising that peace is not just the absence of war.
We haven't had that on our on our physical land for many, many years that there are so many other things that have happened that are not a peaceful history, not a peaceful time.
And for us to recognise that and bring that into the forefront.
I mean, that's that's what these days are all about is to acknowledge some of the what we do have, but also some of the things that are not in place.
And seeing peace is not just a goal for some of those countries that are far away, where there is actual, you know, warfare going on, but that there is much to be done to build peace in our own communities as well.
It's one of those areas that I've always struggled with because it's every day.
There's something to acknowledge, to maybe celebrate or memorialise whatever it may be.
And you know, when these days get put onto a map or get put onto a calendar.
So you know you have a single day where you talk about an international day of peace.
It's a pretty tall order, but it really isn't.
I mean, I'll just liken it, perhaps to to Mother's Day.
This is a male perspective, but I always was blessed with my mother to say, you know, every day should be Mother's Day, where it's not about one day or a week, but I do think that the notion of trying to bring some of these issues to the forefront to give them a theme to let people talk about them and, you know, perhaps, and hopefully, uh, in your capacity that your voice will be added to something that might happen in and around September 21st, because that's sort of operate yourself out at the Moral Centre for Peace and Justice is there?
Is there one thing that you would say to maybe students when they first get involved in one of your classes and you want to talk about conflict resolution?
You want to talk about this issue on peace and justice?
Charlotte is there.
Is there one sort of opening line that you like to give to students to sort of set the set the tone for what's what's to come on?
I do have a little quote I use, and I feel terrible because I don't even remember where it came from, so I can't give credit.
It kind of comes from Well, the quote that I use is change defensiveness to curiosity, and everybody knows when they start getting that feeling, the blood rises to their face or whatever.
When you start to get defensive or you're you want to, you want to lash out you want to react in some way, Maybe, and I always try to say, Take that moment and stop and ask a question instead.
And not just a question like You know, what the heck do you think you're doing?
But a real question to try and understand the behaviour of the other person or the action or the comment of the other person.
And that idea of changing judgement or defensiveness to curiosity to me is such a key in any kind of conflict resolution or a way of learning more.
And so you know that's where it starts is.
You know, when you our judging, can you can you shift that and really say I'm wondering why you might be thinking that's the best way to go or why you believe that or where it comes from and you'll be surprised, even for yourself where some of your beliefs come from.
I would say that that that's probably a great way to end this, this conversation Charlotte on.
It's the beginning of conversation you have with your students, which is really tremendous, and I think it's a great way for us, maybe just to to wrap this conversation up.
I I want to just thank you.
Charlotte ends for your comments.
Your conversation are your views and obviously your time and for what you do.
So thank you for this conversation on humans on rights.
I really appreciate and respect your viewpoint.
Well, thank you very much.
It was great speaking to you today.
Humans on Rights is recorded and hosted by Stuart Murray Social Media Marketing by the Creative Team at full current and Winnipeg Thanks also to trick Seem a Bit You in Music by Doug Edmund.
For more, go to Human rights hub dot c A production of the Sound Off Media company.
Hey, podcast listener, this is Andrea.
Ask quits and this is Allison Langer were both from writing class radio a podcast we started about seven years ago.
And that's why it's gotten so good because we've gotten a lot of practise.
You'll hear true personal stories, stories that will move you, stories that will make you cringe, laugh, cry, run the whole gamut of emotions.
And if you're looking for a writing retreat writing classes, we help for those as well.
We also are open to submissions.
So if you have a story you'd like to share, Please go to writing class radio dot com and view our guidelines available on Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Spotify and at writing class radio dot com.