Anti-racism work continues
ONE CITY, MANY VOICES
Thunder Bay’s Anti-Racism Advisory Committee produces this monthly column to promote greater understanding of race relations in Northwestern Ontario.
By Amina Abu-Bakare
One of the mandates for the City of Thunder Bay’s Anti-Racism Advisory Committee is to provide an annual report to the public, city council and the Canadian Coalition of Municipalities Against Racism and Discrimination on the results achieved through the implementation of the Action Plan.
After receiving Diversity Thunder Bay’s Committee Against Racism and Discrimination report, Overcoming Racism & Discrimination: A Plan for Action, in June 2009, council voted to establish an advisory committee on anti-racism. The committee was to be a community-based body whose principle role would be “acting as an integrating structure, and building on the relationships the city had already established with various organizations and the broader community to develop and recommend a plan of action with timelines and measurable objectives and to provide advice on current policies and practices on equity, diversity and racism.”
Resources and finances to support the committee were to be accessed through the Human Resources and Corporate Communications and Strategic Initiatives Divisions, with general clerical support being provided by the Office of the City Clerk.
As outlined in Report No. 2009.144 it was the specific goal of the committee to develop and recommend a Plan of Action with timelines, key priorities and measurable objectives and success indicators to eliminate racism in the community of Thunder Bay. In response to this, the Thunder Bay Anti-racism Advisory Committee Work Plan was developed, with five major goals, and four working group which are:
1. Develop a public education and media awareness strategy.
2. Promote equity in the workforce.
3. Develop an advocacy role/establish an ombudsperson office for formal complaints process.
4. Encourage and involve youth in activities that promote anti-racism and inclusion.
5. The final goal to promote diversity and equal opportunity in the education sector was to be merged with Goals 1 and 4 because of the overlap in contents.
The anti-racism committee is also committed to developing partnerships with community organizations, agencies and others to assist in identifying and addressing issues related to racism and the implementation of the plan. The City of Thunder Bay, the anti-racism committee and the Thunder Bay Crime Prevention Council have partnered with Confederation College to produce the city’s Respect program which is now up and running.
One City Many Voices, a column that appears once a month, was also a result of a partnership with The Chronicle-Journal.
A partnership with the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce resulted in the launching of the new First Nations Status Card program.
In order to ensure the anti-racism committee is a community-based body, the committee is comprised of the following representatives: Two members of city council and the mayor; four community representatives; one representative from each of the Regional Multicultural Youth Council, Thunder Bay Youth Strategy, Thunder Bay Police Service, Confederation College, Lakehead District School Board, Metis Nation of Ontario, Diversity Thunder Bay, Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board, Conseil Scolaire de District Catholique des Aurores Boréales, Lakehead University, Urban Aboriginal Advisory Committee, Thunder Bay Multicultural Association.
In light of the recent racist comments that were circulated after the fire on the James Street bridge, it is obvious that more work needs to be done in the areas of providing advice on current policies and practices and developing new initiatives on equity, diversity and racism in the city.
The committee’s webpage can be accessed at: http://www.thunderbay.ca/City_Government/Committees_and_Boards/Advisory_...
Amina Abu-Bakare is the chair of the city’s Advisory Committee on Anti-Racism.