GREAT FALLS — United Way of Cascade County says that due to rising COVID infection numbers in the community, they are postponing the Race, Equality, Equity & Inclusion Workshop that was scheduled for January 19 in Great Falls.
They said in a Facebook post: "Because discussion is so important to this workshop, we are looking at dates in February, which is Black History Month, to reschedule. We will post more information as soon as possible."
(JANUARY 12, 2022) Mary Lynne Billy-Old Coyote is preparing to help lead an important conversation. "First and foremost, the fact that it's being presented in Great Falls is very much important and I think it says a lot about the community; the fact that we care about racial equality and equity,” said Old Coyote.
She is the Chief Innovation Officer at the Indian Family Health Clinic in Great Falls and will be one of two moderators at the United Way of Cascade County and Great Falls YWCA's Race, Equality, Equity & Inclusion Workshop on January 19.
"For IFHC, we look at the interconnectedness of a person. What that means with equality (is) how is one's life impacted by transportation, housing, health, all of those other things that really impact your life. That's what we look at when we look at equality and I'm hoping that that will be a part of this discussion,” Old Coyote said.
Pastor Marcus Collins of Alexander Temple Church in Christ will be the other moderator. He said, "If we can be courageous enough as a community to ask the hard questions, it doesn't necessarily mean we'll have all the solutions but it will begin to ignite thought."
This is not the first time he and his church have been part of this kind of conversation.
"Right after the George Floyd incident, we did have a city-wide forum actually here at the church. Mayor Kelly was there, City Manager Greg Doyon, a lot of city officials, school superintendent,” Collins explained. "So there was a great interest from people, the citizens, all over the city to be a part of the conversation then. I'm just excited to see that there's still an interest in the conversation.
For him, the workshop is bittersweet. Sweet because it's happening, but bitter because of everything that has had to happen to get to this point.
"I think we're living in an exciting time where, the way society is now, we're ready to challenge ourselves. We're ready to challenge our old, systematic ways of thinking,” Collins said.
"Let's have all kinds of diversity in this discussion. Let's have all kinds of people coming in and sharing their ideas and their thoughts because that's how we create this as a community solution,” Old Coyote said.
As for the next step, Old Coyote said she hopes the workshops and discussion will continue. For Collins, he sees more integrated training as the next step.
When: Wednesday, January 19, 9-11:30 AM
Location: Room B101, Great Falls College, 100 16th Avenue South
Registration Fee: $10 goodwill donation or a can of food for the YWCA Great Falls Mercy Home
Deadline to register: End of the day, Sunday, January 16
For more information, click here to visit the United Way of Cascade County website.