On Monday, Calgary city council voted unanimously to accept a number of recommendations to address systemic racism in Calgary.
This comes two weeks after a public hearing where more than 100 Calgarians stood in front of council and shared their personal experiences with racism in Calgary.
According to the notice of motion, the first recommendation accepted was for council to “acknowledge and recognize that systemic racism exists in our community, our government, our organization and our institutions.”
This includes the City of Calgary and the Calgary Police Service and is also acknowledged by the Calgary Police Association, the Calgary Police Commission and the Senior Officers Association.
The second recommendation approved the scope for the anti-racism action committee.
The committee is tasked with identifying barriers that prevent people from using city programs and services and reporting back with ways to improve those programs.
The committee’s final recommendation will be the framework for Calgary’s eventual anti-racism strategy.
Council also approved $250,000 for an anti-racism capacity-building fund, which the notice of motion states will create “collaborative, community-based capacity-building initiatives that work to undo systemic racism and support long-term policy and systems reform in Calgary.”
Funding will be available to community-based organizations and will have to be approved by a panel of staff from several Calgary-based non-profit organizations.
City council also agreed to hold discussions with the CPS and the Calgary Police Commission before October.
Mayor Naheed Nenshi said it’s time for council to be more directly involved with the future direction of the CPS.
“I think it’s fair to say that perhaps council has been a bit too deferential in this area because we do have to represent citizens to the police,” said Nenshi. “After (the public hearings), it’s time for us to have a very tough conversation with the police.”
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Philip Neilson, a member of Black Lives Matter YYC, said the high-level meetings between council and the CPS are a good first step but that change has to start with individual officers.
“I think what they need to do is really work on how to deal with different cultures,” said Neilson. “I think that’s what a lot of the problem is, they just don’t know (how to deal with different cultures), and I think the fear of not knowing is what causes these problems.”
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