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London considers overturning proclamation ban ahead of Black History Month

London city staff are reviewing a proposal to overturn a proclamation ban ahead of Black History Month. 980 CFPL

London politicians are considering the possibility of overturning city hall’s proclamation ban with the idea of potentially issuing one in February to honour Black History Month.

Ward 13 Coun. Arielle Kayabaga put forward a motion that would speed up a decision on whether council should change its policy against giving proclamations during the corporate services committee meeting on Tuesday evening.

The motion asks staff to review the city’s current policy of not issuing proclamations for any special events. Staff will look at the possibility of changing that as well as looking for alternative ways of commemorating such occasions.

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During the meeting, Kayabaga presented a petition of 400 signatures calling for the proclamation and asked staff to bring a report looking at all options to the committee’s December meeting.

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“Black History Month is coming up in February. As we think, and as the community thinks, that this really important to do, it’s important that we hear back from staff,” she said.

Click to play video 'Exhibits at CMHR celebrate Black History Month' Exhibits at CMHR celebrate Black History Month
Exhibits at CMHR celebrate Black History Month – Feb 22, 2019

Ward 4 Coun. Jesse Helmer also stressed the importance of addressing this issue in a timely matter.

During Tuesday’s meeting, he says the timing of the motion gives the city just enough time to address this issue before February.

“I can imagine a scenario where we have a report come forward and we say that’s like 80 per cent of what we’d like to see but we’d like to see some changes, and if we do, we really need to have time,” said Helmer, pointing to council’s break over the Christmas holiday.

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He says that by the time city staff return to council chambers in January, there isn’t much time to work through the details.

“We really need to get something in December. That’s really the only window we have to make any kind of decision. If it’s all perfect then excellent, we’ve got it done in advance, and if it needs any adjustments then we have time.”

Mayor Ed Holder said he would be willing to see options discussed but is cautious about what it could mean for other proclamation proposals going forward.

“I think the issue of proclamations is bigger. With great respect to Black History Month, this is the issue that was determined by a prior council that no proclamations would be done, and I don’t want to prejudge the report that’s coming through, but one proclamation that is done on a stand-alone basis, I think, opens the door to us having to consider all,” Holder said.

Staff is expected to bring a report back to the corporate services committee when they meet next on Dec. 3.