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Calgary city council unanimously passes anti-racism motion

Protesters gather in solidarity with the George Floyd protests across the United States in Calgary, Alta., Wednesday, June 3, 2020.
Protesters gather in solidarity with the George Floyd protests across the United States in Calgary, Alta., Wednesday, June 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Calgary councillors voted unanimously on Monday to pass an anti-racism motion they hope will tackle systemic racism in the city.

The motion presented to councillors on Monday evening had six calls to action, including asking council to hold a public consultation on systemic racism and to establish an anti-racism action committee that would be tasked with implementing a community-based anti-racism strategy.

READ MORE: Calgary councillors urge city to hold public systemic racism consultations

The motion also contained recommendations to re-evaluate city policies and procedures with an emphasis on diversity and inclusion, and for the community-based public safety task force to consider issues of systemic racism and discrimination in its work.

The motion pressed council to implement mandatory anti-racism training for councillors and administration.

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Lastly, the motion formally requested the Calgary Police Commission to provide council with an update on the anti-racism work currently underway and any future plans.

The motion comes as people around the world engage in rallies and demonstrations in support of the Black Lives Matter movement following the death of George Floyd.

In Calgary, several anti-police-violence and anti-racism rallies have been held, including one that saw thousands of people flood the streets of the downtown core.

READ MORE: Thousands march through Calgary streets in anti-police-violence, anti-racism rally

The councillors putting forward the notice of motion said the protests “articulated the clear and compelling reasons to redouble our efforts to achieve structural adjustments to existing inequalities within our city and our society by listening to and learning from those who have been impacted by systemic racism.”

Thousands march in downtown Calgary as part of Black Lives Matter protest
Thousands march in downtown Calgary as part of Black Lives Matter protest

“Listening and learning are important first steps in combating institutional racism,” Ward 5 Coun. George Chahal said in a news release. “The protests have shown that we all have much to learn. However, we must also take concrete and immediate steps to ensure that unconscious bias and systemic racism are addressed internally at city hall.

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“Our leadership, including council and administration, must commit to ensuring that all outcomes are equitable and that structural inequalities are identified and eliminated.”

READ MORE: Group petitions Calgary city council to conduct public consultation on racism

In a tweet, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said council voting to approve the motion was a step toward “building a community where everyone feels like they belong.”

“We have a lot of work to do. But we’ll get there,” he said.

“Some of the action is also education,” Ward 1 Coun. Ward Sutherland explained. “To do some education for council itself, like we did education when we did the Indigenous program where we did a blanket ceremony, it was very enlightening for a lot of people who didn’t realize what the issues are. So it’s a good awareness thing that we need to learn about.”

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