City of Calgary to hold first-ever public consultation on systemic racism
By Karina Zapata, Publishing Editor
Earlier this month, the Canadian Cultural Mosaic Foundation (CCMF), a non-profit organization dedicated to improving race relations in Calgary and Canada, launched an online petition that garnered over 70,000 signatures from people across the country.
The petition called on the City of Calgary to hold a public consultation on systemic racism and discrimination, following the death of George Floyd and a rise in the Black Lives Matter movement.
Following the petition, Calgary’s city council unanimously voted to address systemic racism. As one of six ways the city is committing to address racism, the City of Calgary is holding its first-ever public consultation on racism on July 7 at 9:30 a.m. If needed, the meeting may extend to July 8.
“The public consultation allows racialized Calgarians to share their experiences of racism and for others to learn how systemic racism looks in our city,” says Iman Bukhari, CEO of CCMF. “It’s an important time in the world right now. This type of movement hasn’t happened for BIPOC in many years and it’s now the time for us to create better systems that have an equitable approach.”
In a video shared across social media channels, CCMF is asking Black, Indigenous and people of colour (BIPOC) in Calgary to speak at the public consultation to share their personal experiences with racism and any ideas they have to build an anti-racist city.
Topics for BIPOC to tackle during this consultation, according to the video, can be the nature of racism in Calgary, the need for more BIPOC leadership, how funding can be more accessible and equitable for BIPOC grassroots groups, among many other things.
“It’s important to use this time to raise our voice because our local government is literally asking us to not just talk about our experience of racism to them, but also give suggestions — to work together,” says Bukhari. “I personally believe it’s our duty to raise our voice to the people who can make a difference.”
To speak at this meeting, you must send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday, July 3 at 3 p.m. The email should include your name, specifications that the request is for the anti-racism public consultation and whether you need a language interpreter.
It is also possible to write a letter sharing these experiences rather than speaking at the meeting. To do so, you must simply complete a form and attach your letter at http://calgary.ca/publicsubmissions with the same deadline of July 3.
Further, CCMF advises, “Once The City gets your email, City Clerks will reply to tell you that they have received your request and that your name has been added to the list to speak at a specific time. If there are a number of speakers, you may not be scheduled to speak until July 8. Detailed instructions will be sent to you at least 24 hours before the start of the meeting on July 7 at 9:30 a.m.”
While Bukhari says this is a unique opportunity for BIPOC across the city, she says it is also the responsibility of non-racialized communities to commit to anti-racism in Calgary.
“Most of all, I’d like racism to be recognized by those who are privileged so they can spot it and help eradicate it. Without our allies, [racism] won’t disappear — especially systemically.”
The meeting will be publicly available for all Calgarians to watch online on July 7 here.