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‘We are ecstatic’: Montreal to hold first ever public consultations on systemic racism and discrimination

Balarma Holness talks to reporters at city hall after announcing that the city of Montreal will be holding public consultations on systemic racism and discrimination. Friday, Aug. 17, 2018. Noemie Cabana/Global News

The city of Montreal will be holding public consultations on systemic racism and discrimination after a citizen-led petition garnered 20,000 signatures.

Montreal in Action’s petition, spearheaded by former Projet Montreal candidate and Alouettes player Balarma Holness, needed at least 15,000 names by July 29 to meet city requirements.

READ MORE: Petition for public consultations on racism needs 15,000 signatures

In a letter to Holness, the city confirmed that public consultations will be held.

At a press conference at city hall on Friday, Holness praised the team effort.

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“The team is what energized this whole process,” he said.

READ MORE: Coalition calls for public consultations on ‘systemic racism’ in Montreal

Holness explained it was during the municipal election campaign last year that he noticed that “issues and severe inequalities” existed — especially in Montreal North, where he ran.

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He made it his mission to continue to strive for equality and inclusion even after the election.

“Every single day, we were out collecting signatures to ultimately advance these issues,” Holness told reporters.

READ MORE: Protesters converge on downtown Montreal to denounce racism, hate

Dates for the hearings will be set in the coming weeks.

Holness says he is looking forward to having frank and open discussions on the issue.

“We are ecstatic because 20,000 Montrealers have been united,” he said. “What we are requesting and what we show is a vision of unity and inclusion. Moving forward with that positive connotation, we will get more diversity.”

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