The first-ever public consultations on systemic racism and discrimination are underway in Montreal.
After two years of work, community activist Balarama Holness is celebrating victory.
“This is the pivotal moment, a signature moment for Montrealers to come, be empowered to voice their concerns, their ambitions and really the solutions to mitigate racism, to mitigate discrimination and improve equality in Montreal,” said Holness, who is the co-founder of Montreal in Action.
“I feel like inclusion is such an important aspect that got swept under the rug,” added Prince Kerr, a member of Montreal in Action.
Holness, along with a group of Montrealers, gathered the 20,000 signatures needed to force the city to hold a consultation on systemic racism and discrimination.
It’s something Farida Mohamed, a member of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women, says is alive and well in Montreal.
“There is discrimination when you’re trying to get services,” Mohamed said. “You’re not treated in the same manner as a person who is white.”
WATCH: Anti-racism protest in Montreal draws thousands (Oct. 2018)
While some activists are celebrating, though, others are upset.
“We’re excluded,” said accessibility advocate Linda Gauthier.
Last November, the city held public consultations on making Montreal more accessible.
But Gauthier says the activists who pushed for Wednesday’s consultations should have ensured those with disabilities were included.
“That’s what we are living — social discrimination,” Gauhtier told Global News.
WATCH: Montreal’s first ever consultations on systemic racism
The last hearings will take place in November. Montreal’s Public Consultation Office (OCPM) will then present a report to the city with recommendations by next winter.