Calgary council unanimously passes anti-racism motion

Calgary's city council voted unanimously Monday in favour of a motion that takes some steps to address systemic racism. 

Council members will now be required to take anti-racism training

Thousands gathered in Calgary's Olympic Plaza earlier this month for a candlelight vigil in honour of victims of racism and police brutality. The city voted unanimously Monday in favour of an anti-racism motion. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

Calgary's city council voted unanimously Monday in favour of a motion that takes some steps to address systemic racism. 

The motion includes the following six actions:

  • Council members and senior administration will now be required to take anti-racism training, and repeat that training at least every four years. 
  • Calgary police will be formally requested to report to council to provide an update on its anti-racism work.
  • Council will hold a public consultation on systemic racism, with an expert panel in attendance.
  • An anti-racism action committee will be established to develop and implement a community action strategy.
  • The city will reevaluate its internal practices and policies through the lens of a diversion and inclusion framework, including budget, organizational structure and HR.
  • The community-based public safety task force will be asked to consider issues of systemic racism in its work. 

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said it's no longer adequate to be simply not racist — it's time to be anti-racist.

He credited the global Black Lives Matter demonstrations, four of which have been held in Calgary, for sparking change.

"Something has changed in the last month," he said.

"It's like being in the mountains in the springtime and suddenly you hear a crack, and it's the ice has cracked and the water starts to flow."

He pointed out that there are issues within the city itself that need to be addressed, like the fact that all of the 50 most senior managers are white.

Petition had gained 70K signatures

A petition from the Canadian Cultural Mosiac Foundation asking the city to tackle systemic racism gained more than 70,000 signatures last week. 

More than 30 per cent of the city's population self identifies as a visible minority, the petition stated, "however racist incidents and crimes continue across the city."

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

Coun. Jyoti Gondek said it will be important that the actions included in the motion focus on intersectionality.

She said while she's faced racism, it is vital to address the many more barriers those from multiple marginalized groups face.

"I can't imagine the life of a person of colour who is from the trans community. I can't imagine that," she said. 

Coun. Evan Woolley followed the vote by bringing up two motions arising related to it, one of which asks the city to spend $120,000 to fund the creation of four murals representing Black, Indigenous and People of Colour movements. 

Those motions will be discussed at council on Tuesday.