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City to begin taking action on anti-racism on Monday

Anti-racism initiatives in the city are moving forward.

On Monday, the city will discuss the terms of reference for the Anti-Racism Action Committee and Anti-Racism Fund at a combined meeting of council.

This comes after the public submissions held on July 7-9 at council to further the city’s progress in tackling systemic racism in the city.

Action Committee and Capacity-Building Fund

On June 15, council established an upcoming Anti-Racism Action Committee. They will have their first organizational meeting by October 2020.

The Action Committee will have 11 diverse members with expertise in challenging racism. They will create and advise council on the development and implementation of a community based anti-racism strategy.

The committee will be responsible for things such as engaging with community stakeholders on how to undertake systemic racism and identifying language barriers in the city.

They will identify and address action on systemic barriers to accessing city programs and services. They will also work with organizations to address structural racism on a community level.

As well on June 15, council allocated $250,000 to The Anti-Racism Capacity-Building Fund. The funding will be available though a proposal process opening this month.

It will be open to community organizations with previous experience of undoing racism and discrimination in systems through collaborative efforts.

Those who receive funding will promote long-term reform for policy in the city and provide support for community-based initiatives combating systemic.

A review panel consisting of staff from various organizations including Calgary Neighbourhoods, Calgary Arts Development and the Calgary Foundation will be overlooking the applications for funding.

Reviews from the public

Submissions from after the public consultation appreciated the efforts that council began and continuously emphasized the need to do more.

“There have been many very informative and insightful stories, analyses, and recommendations for positive social change,” wrote Mary Valentich.

While the first steps towards anti-racism have been taken, citizens want to ensure that efforts don’t collapse.

“Please follow through on your commitment to stamp out racism in Calgary. We need to make sure these changes are put into effect,” wrote Karen Tanguay.

Of course, it is not without criticism and continuously holding the city accountable.

Michael Embaie said while municipalities have less power over certain areas, they still need to do their part.

“If governments and educational institutions in particular have the courage, the political will and leadership, they could certainly play a major role.”

The rules and regulations that are or will be in place need be examined with the critical eye.

“When it comes to policy, I believe we have to look at the effect of our decisions and actions and ask, are they working to fight racism, or are they failing to acknowledge it exists?” Jeff Halvorsen wrote.

“This failure makes space for racism to continue. In your recommendations and all of your policy work, please ask yourselves this question.”