Rumina Morris will be the director of the division starting May 31, while Alizabeth George-Antone recently joined the city as its Indigenous community liaison advisor.
The new division “will provide leadership, tools and resources” to facilitate education, awareness and training in order to assist employees in taking proactive steps against racism and oppression in the workplace and beyond, the city says.
The city says the primary focus will be on addressing racism and oppression directed toward Black people, Indigenous people, Asian people and all people of colour but the division will also work to address ableism, xenophobia, sexism, homophobia, transphobia and oppression against other equity-seeking groups, as needed.
“I am deeply humbled to join the City of London to support their anti-racism and anti-oppression journey both within the corporation and throughout the community,” Morris said in a statement.
“This is a unique opportunity to bring people together and create a more equitable future for all. I am most looking forward to connecting with others, to listen to their lived experiences, and to use my voice to help project theirs to improve outcomes for Londoners.”
Morris is a London-based equity and inclusion expert, the city says, with over 15 years’ experience in leadership positions in the human services sector. The city says she is also a volunteer who played “an active role” in the development of the city’s Community Diversity and Inclusion Strategy (CDIS).
George-Antone is Bear Clan from the Oneida Nation and is described by the city as a community-builder with a strong passion for building relationships and “helping to keep her language and culture alive to ensure a stronger, healthier community for future generations.” Most recently, she was teaching Oneida language within her community and teaching post-secondary Indigenous studies courses, the city says. She is also an elected councillor for the Oneida Nation of the Thames.
“I have a personal understanding of the oppression and inter-generational trauma that has been inflicted upon all Indigenous communities. I also have a deep understanding of the importance of healing and re-building trust into all relationships,” she said in a statement.
“I look forward to raising awareness about the unique experience of Indigenous people, and to strengthening the relationships between London and Indigenous people and communities.”
The city says George-Antone will work to “develop and strengthen the City’s relationships with Indigenous people and communities as the City continues to develop its path to understanding and reconciliation” and help develop initiatives and programs to provide training and resources for employees.
George-Antone’s appointment comes nearly a year after the role was meant to start.
At a committee meeting last June, city manager Lynne Livingstone explained that recruitment was paused across the board at the city in March due to the onset of the pandemic.
At that time, councillors also requested that staff begin work to potentially establish a Black liaison officer position and asked staff to report back with an update on the implementation of the city’s diversity and inclusion strategy as well as next steps.
On Tuesday, the city said it is planning to add three more positions to the new division: a Black community liaison advisor, an accessibility specialist, and a workplace diversity and inclusion specialist. The city says the goal is to have the division fully staffed in the fall.
“Council has identified a commitment to anti-racism and anti-oppression as one of their strategic priorities,” Livingstone said in a statement.
“With Rumina’s many years supporting individuals and other organizations in this work, and Alizabeth’s commitment to community and relationship building, we are creating a team that will help us address systemic racism and oppression that exists within our organization and within the community.”