12 named to revamped Ottawa police community outreach group
The community equity council replaces a similar committee disbanded last year
Ottawa police have named the members of its new community equity council (CEC), a volunteer group replacing a similar outreach committee that was disbanded last year.
The community and police action committee (COMPAC) ended in November 2017 after a review concluded it was out of touch with the community and faced barriers preventing it from effectively challenging police.
Police chief Charles Bordeleau said COMPAC did good work since it was put together in 2000, but it simply needed to change to reflect the community.
"What we heard was that we needed to evolve it," he said.
Bordeleau said the people they have assembled all have deep roots within the community and will bring forward those perspectives to police.
CEC member Sahada Alolo, with the Multifaith Housing Initiative and secretary of the Ottawa Muslim Women's Organization, said the council is going to have to be upfront and direct about the problems facing police.
"How does the council actually recognize racial profiling [or] Islamophobia and call it what it is?" she said.
"If we don't call issues out we don't have solutions to the problems."
'The trust was broken'
Council member Hodan Egale, president of the Somali Canadian Youth Centre, said she believes the new council can be a reset for the relationship between diverse communities and the police.
"It gives an informal way for community members to bring their concerns forward," she said.
She said Ottawa police will have to be true partners as well and work to address concerns.
"The onus is not only on us a community, but on the Ottawa police to see how we can work together in a positive way," she said.
"Since the trust was broken in the last couple of years, I am hoping with this equity council we can forge the way forward."
The council's 12 members are:
- Hector Addision, project co-ordinator at Somerset West Community Health Centre and founder of the African Canadian Association of Ottawa.
- Sahada Alolo of the Multifaith Housing Initiative and secretary of the Ottawa Muslim Women's Organization.
- Huda Alsarraj, a human rights officer at the National Council of Canadian Muslims.
- Malik Ayass, executive director of The Door/La Porte youth centre.
- Teresa Edwards, executive director and legal counsel with the Legacy of Hope Foundation.
- Hodan Egale, president of the Somali Canadian Youth Centre, who also works for the Ottawa Local Immigration Partnership.
- Gérard Etienne, a long-standing leader in the Haitian Community and associate vice-president of the Institute on Governance. Etienne is also connected to Pro-active Education for All Children's Enrichment.
- Debbie Hoffman, service director at the Ottawa Children's Aid Society.
- Rawlson King, a former president of the Overbrook Community Association.
- Heidi Langille, board member of the Inuit Non-Profit Housing Corporation and a long-standing member of Ottawa's Inuit community.
- Jalil Marhnouj, president of the Assunnah Muslim Association and board chair of the South-East Ottawa Community Health Centre.
- Séverin Jr César Ndéma-Mousa, president of North-South Development Roots and Culture Canada
The council will also have three Indigenous elders — First Nation elder Irene Compton, Inuit elder Reepa Evic-Carleton and Métis elder Jo MacQuarrie — supporting its work.
Deputy Chief Steve Bell and Ottawa police superintendents who oversee investigations, training and community relations will also take part.