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County of Simcoe and partners looking at immigration through a different lens

Midhurst/March 21, 2022 – As part of the 2022 #ITSTARTS campaign, and to mark International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the County of Simcoe Local Immigration Partnership (LIP) and area partners are sharing information on tackling racism locally and nationally. Local anti-racism advocates took part in a recorded panel discussion, which is now available for viewing on the County’s YouTube channel.

Representatives from Georgian College, Lakehead University, the Simcoe Muskoka District School Board and the County of Simcoe, as well as people with lived experience from within racialized communities, speak on current issues surrounding race and discrimination in Canada. The panelists provide their insights on the challenges we face and how we move forward and take actions to end racial discrimination.

Today (March 21) is International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which is observed annually on the day the police in Sharpeville, South Africa, opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration against apartheid “pass laws” in 1960. Since then, the apartheid system in South Africa has been dismantled. For more information on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, visit

About our Moderators

Ishaan Sachdeva arrived in Simcoe County from India 3 years ago as an International Student. Since then, he has worked tirelessly to support his peers and the Simcoe County community. Ishaan co-founded the Enactus student club at Georgian College, designed to address social isolation. The club created the “Say My Name” campaign to encourage community members to learn correct name pronunciation. 

Sandra Jeppesen is Professor in Media, Film, and Communications at Lakehead University Orillia. As co-founder of Media Action Research Group (2013-2019), and Lakehead University Research Chair in Transformative Media and Social Movements (2016-2018), they have researched with grassroots and community groups on intersectional antiracism practices in alternative media production and social movement organizing. A book long in the works came out last year: Transformative Media: Intersectional Technopolitics from Indymedia to #BlackLivesMatter (UBC Press 2021

About our Panelists

Angela Knowlton is Anishnaabe from the Red Rock Indian Band. Ms. Knowlton was born and raised in Midland, Ontario in Simcoe County. Angela obtained an undergraduate degree in history with a focus on Indigenous Studies. She is pursuing a Masters degree on Canadian Studies with an emphasis on Indigenous relations and reconciliation. She is a consultant with the Biminaawzogin Regional Aboriginal Women’s Circle (BRAWC) as an Indigenous Implementation Coordinated Access Consultant.

Amy Hsiao is a Multilingualism Facilitator, with Simcoe County District School Board. She is a seasoned educator and active member of ERGO (ESL/ELD Resource Group of Ontario), ORNG (Ontario Reception Network Group), and ACENet (Asian Canadian Educators Network).

Debbie Opoku holds a Masters degree in Counselling Psychology. Debbie is a registered psychotherapist, speaker and a mental health advocate. Debbie’s work is guided from an anti-oppressive, healing focused, trauma informed and anti-Black racism lens.

Irfan Toor is currently working as the Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion for the Ontario Principal’s Council after serving as an educator with the Simcoe County District School Board and in other communities for over 25 years.

About the #ITSTARTS Campaign

The nationally recognized #ITSTARTS initiative aims to raise awareness about the value and importance of developing welcoming communities in Simcoe County. The social movement encourages Simcoe County residents to complete an #ITSTARTS card and share a photo or video through social media using the hashtag #ITSTARTS. Residents are asked to tag @simcoecounty (Twitter), @CountyofSimcoe (Facebook) and @CountyofSimcoe (Instagram) in their messages.

The initiative, in its sixth year, is supported by the Local Immigration Partnership including the Barrie Chamber of Commerce, Barrie Public Library, Barrie Police Services, Catholic Family Services of Simcoe County, Catulpa Community Services, Collège Boréal, Collingwood Public Library, County of Simcoe Economic Development Office, Georgian College, Lakehead University, Making Change, Ontario Provincial Police, Orillia Public Library, Simcoe County District School Board, Simcoe Muskoka Catholic School Board, Simcoe County Library Cooperative, South Simcoe Police, and YMCA of Simcoe Muskoka.

For more information on how to participate in #ITSTARTS and the significance of International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, visit <<< Add Link to {Page Name}>>>.

About the County of Simcoe

County of Simcoe is composed of sixteen member municipalities and provides crucial public services to County residents in addition to providing paramedic and social services to the separated cities of Barrie and Orillia. Visit our website at

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Chris Hedley
Public Relations Consultant
County of Simcoe, Service Simcoe Department
705-715-7654 (mobile)

Collin Matanowitsch
Manager, Public Relations
County of Simcoe, Service Simcoe Department
705-734-8386 (mobile)