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Montreal’s first public consultations on systemic racism, discrimination underway

Click to play video: 'Public consultations on systemic racism and discrimination begin in Montreal' Public consultations on systemic racism and discrimination begin in Montreal
WATCH: The first ever public consultations on systemic racism and discrimination are underway in Montreal. Global's Gloria Henriquez reports – May 16, 2019

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.

READ MORE: Racial profiling a widespread, systemic problem in Montreal: report

“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.

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

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)

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Anti-racism protest in Montreal draws thousands – Oct 7, 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.

READ MORE: ‘Many people still don’t have services’: Disability rights advocates ask Quebec to step in

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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

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Montreal’s first ever consultations on systemic racism – Jul 31, 2018

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.

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