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