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Hamilton Anti-Racism Resource Centre taking calls before opening day

Hamilton Anti-Racism Resource Centre is set to open at 140 King Street East on April 4, 2018. 900 CHML

The Hamilton Anti-Racism Resource Centre (HARRC) hasn’t even opened its doors yet, and the calls are coming in.

It’s set to open April 4 on King Street East, after more than a decade-long wait that involved a feasibility study by the city and numerous delays.

Even though it was a lengthy road, newly named centre lead, Princewill Ogban, applauds its creation, and the recognition that there is a need for it in the community.

READ MORE: Racial hate tops list of hate/bias incidents reported to Hamilton police in 2017

It’s a belief that he says was further bolstered in his own mind earlier this week when the first call came in.

He describes it as an “aha” moment.

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“It’s like ‘Wow,'” he said. “That’s kind of how I felt, like if someone could call this quick, there’s need for this centre in Hamilton.”

Ogban, a registered social worker, is poised to take many more of those calls.

His role will involve creating a safe space for those impacted by racism, discrimination or hate crimes, to share their experiences.

“The idea of the centre is to give them emotional support and refer them to resources, probably legal aid, to human rights, whatever resources we think could support them,” said Ogban.

READ MORE: Activists call on Hamilton to ban hate groups from using municipal parks, buildings

The HARRC’s other function will be to collect data about the type of incidents taking place in the city and the extent to which they’re happening.

The hope, he says, is that this will help generate better-informed discussions about racism and how it can be tackled institutionally as well as on a community level.

McMaster University and the Centre for Civic Inclusion have partnered with the city on the initiative.

“It’s a bold step,” said Ogban, “that we acknowledge racism exists in Hamilton and we have decided to put some dollars to do something about it.”

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