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West Island, Que., mayors vow to stamp out racism: ‘We need to be vigilant’

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Two new statements from the mayors of West Island cities, vowing to stamp out racism, were issued early Thursday morning.

Each one had a similar message: calling for more action to be taken to end racism in their respective communities.

The gesture followed an online petition in the wake of the discovery of a racial epithet behind the Complexe Pointe-Claire strip mall.

“We need to be vigilant and attentive to any signs or behaviours that foster or conceal discrimination in overt or subtle ways,” wrote Georges Bourelle, mayor of Beaconsfield, Que.

“We have to stand up and take action to make it stop.”

And the Pointe-Claire council issued this: “We must act collectively to identify and understand the sources of racism and above all better train our protection services officers and justice system agents, to guarantee all our fellow citizens a living environment where equity, respect and freedom are more than just simple words with no real consequences,” a statement endorsed by Mayor John Belvedere and the city’s eight councillors.

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READ MORE: Pointe Claire, Que., residents furious about anti-Black graffiti: ‘I’ve never seen it like this’

Pointe-Claire also recently displayed the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter on the city’s electronic billboards in recent days.

“Hopefully, meeting with different people and being able to sit down we will be able to bring it to a forefront so we see it out in the open and we will be able to discuss it and be part of the solution,” Belvedere told Global News in a phone interview late Thursday afternoon.

“Racism is a cultural issue,” Mayor Bourelle told Global News. “Therefore we need to address it and change our behaviour.”

Advocates fighting to improve justice for visible minorities say the gestures by the mayors are a step in the right direction, but more action is required.

“We will not stop. We need to do this. It’s important for the whole community. It’s not just about Black people. It’s about us coming together and doing what’s right,” Kemba Mitchell told Global News.

Only three percent of the Pointe-Claire population identify themselves as Black, according to the latest statistics from Statistics Canada.

Migo Natolban is one of them. The father of three married a white woman and says his wife is often questioned by others when taking the kids to the park.

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“They’re asking her, are they your kids. Uh, yes,” he told Global News.

Many are hoping real change can occur to end racist attitudes that continue to persist.

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