The second annual World Diversity in Leadership Conference held in Edmonton’s largest convention facility features a splashy website showing a large packed auditorium, boasts a host of high-profile speakers and lists 18 corporate partners and sponsors.
But when Rebel News attended on the second day of the scheduled five-day conference, that had a daily entry fee as high as $310, it was sparsely attended and the majority of tables inside the Edmonton Convention Centre facility were mostly empty.
That was the case despite the fact the conference advertised nearly 50 speakers including former Australian president Julia Gillard, Liberian Vice-President Dr. Jewel Taylor and legendary NHL hockey tough guy Georges Laraque.
Topics, however, were anything but diverse and included: Religious Diversity, Diversity in Innovation, Diversity and the Criminal Justice System, the Impact of Gender and Age Diversity on Innovation, Managing Workplace Diversity and Inclusion, Gender Identity as a Dimension of Diversity and Diversity in Sports.
The welcome message from conference founder Hilda Fankah-Arthur, PhDc said in part:
World Diversity in Leadership (WODIL) is an initiative of the Centre for Intellectual Excellence (CeFIE), a non-profit organization that seeks to create opportunities for diverse populations, particularly marginalized people, to reach their highest potential. WODIL conference is an annual international event that brings together senior officials/policy makers, researchers, community members and leaders from private corporations to share ideas on how to address emerging issues within the Equity, Diversity and Inclusive (EDI) framework.
However, when Rebel News interviewed a handful of people at the conference, it didn’t appear that there was much in the way of diversity of opinion — especially when it came to the issue of systemic racism.
Each person interviewed was asked if they believed Canada was a systemically racist country and each person agreed it was.
However, when asked to point out a particular racist law or policy in Canada that needs changing, no one could think of an example.
Event moderators included two CTV employees, a CBC employee and an employee of the United Nations.
On the second day of the conference when Rebel News visited, no other journalists were seen to be in attendance.