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Group petitions Calgary city council to conduct public consultation on racism

Petition asks Calgary city council to conduct public consultation on racism
WATCH (June 8, 2020): A petition calling on the City of Calgary to hold a public consultation about systemic racism has garnered thousands of signatures since launching on Wednesday. Doug Vaessen has details.

A petition calling on Calgary to hold a public consultation about systemic racism garnered more than 56,000 signatures by Sunday since launching on Wednesday.

The petition — started by the Canadian Cultural Mosaic Foundation, which works to improve race relations and has headquarters in Calgary — asks the city to address its racism problem.

Citing Statistics Canada’s 2016 census, the group said more than 30 per cent of Calgary’s population identified as visible minorities.

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The group said the city needs to hear from people of all backgrounds on issues and solutions.

“How does that affect them? How does it look? Where have they experienced it? And then together, work with us because we love our city, we’re so glad we live in this city and we want to work with the city to improve systemic racism,” said Iman Bukhari, founder of the CCMF, on Sunday.

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“So please hear us out. Hear out the voices of Indigenous and racialized people in our city and do something about it. Work with us.”

Bukhari said the foundation made a documentary about racism called YYC Colours in 2017.

“We heard from hundreds of Calgarians about the systemic racism that they feel and face every single day. So we weren’t surprised that people support this [petition],” she said.

“But we do believe that the Black Lives Matter movement, of course, which is incredibly important, is helping move this along.”

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In addition to signing the petition, you can write a letter to or tweet at your councillor and the mayor, Bukhari said.

“We don’t just want councillors and the mayor to be like, ‘Yes, racism is an issue,'” she said.

“We want them to do something about it, and hearing from Calgarians, holding a public consultation, is a great opportunity for that.”

Bukhari wants people to do research and get engaged.

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“I think for people who aren’t behind this movement or don’t understand the importance of this work, I would highly recommend doing your research,” she said, citing the CCMF website.

“By research, I don’t just mean do a few minutes of research and then make [up your] mind, but really try your best and recognize your own privilege, whatever it might be. I don’t just mean white privilege, but there’s a lot of other privileges out there. So you need to recognize that to do your homework and then you’ll understand the cause. If you have any questions, please reach out.”

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Ward 5 Coun. George Chahal said he is inspired by the petition and looks forward to working with the foundation.

“I think it’s a real, important issue and that as a city, we work with this organization and others to find meaningful actions to solve this issue,” he said.

The petition is very viable, Chahal said.

“I’m the chair of the Public Safety Task Force. It’s an opportunity that we should be discussing as part of the work we’re doing,” he said.

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“Beyond that, I think we need to have a public discussion on racism that many in our city have encountered and what we’ve seen across Canada and North America. It’s an extremely important issue and we must stand together and stand up against racism at this time.”

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Chahal said he has experienced discrimination — even recently — and noted that we must take action to create real change.

“My story is one of many and there [are] thousands of stories out there where people have encountered racism. It’s unfortunate. We as a community and as a society need to move beyond that,” he said.