About 70 per cent of Kingston residents say they’ve witnessed racism in the city, according to results from a recently released city-wide survey. The numbers are part of the Change the Conversation initiative, started last year by the City of Kingston in partnership with local stakeholders to deal with racism in the city.
In August through September 2017, the city conducted a survey that allowed residents to share their experiences with racism and discrimination.
According to the results released on April 3, 87 per cent of Kingston residents feel that the community is more enriched by having a diverse and inclusive population, and yet non-European Canadians in Kingston said they experience racism seven times more than the rest of the community.
Cristian Medina is the project coordinator at the Kingston Immigration Partnership from the Kingston Community Health Centres, one of the community stakeholders spearheading Change the Conservation. He says people from minority groups are facing social isolation in Kingston.
The report that accompanied the results of the survey said Kingston has a “negative reputation” when it comes to race relations and that the city is “recognized as a white community where minority groups do not feel welcome.” It adds that Kingston needs to do better to attract people from diverse backgrounds, and to celebrate diversity.
This is where Change the Conversation comes in, according to Medina. The initiative, which received $80,000 from the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration, will organize several events beginning in May where people in Kingston will be able to share and discuss their experiences with discrimination. As for what those events entail, Medina said they haven’t squared down the details, but that more information is soon to come.
Medina did say they want to place significant emphasis on educating the youth in Kingston so they can promote awareness in the community from a young age.
Also according to the report, in late August and September, Statistics Canada will carry out a survey of approximately 2,000 households in Kingston to gauge the success of the campaign. The research will be done free of charge by Statistics Canada as part of their ongoing training programs.
The Change the Conversation poll was led by a project team from the Kingston Immigration Partnership that includes the City of Kingston, KEDCO, Kingston Community Health Centres (KCHC), KEYS Job Centre and the Francophone Immigration Support Network of Eastern Ontario. KCHC is serving as the lead organization. The numbers were derived from the Kingston Includes You survey, available online from Aug. 15 to Sep. 15, 2017 — completed by 608 Kingston residents, and a focus group with 25 local residents, facilitated by Dr. Anita Jack-Davis on Nov. 29, 2017 at the Frontenac Cultural Centre.