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Edmonton Council advances anti-racism strategy as first item of official business

EDMONTON –

At its first plenary meeting on Monday, Edmonton’s new city council unanimously passed a motion to create a plan to tackle hate-based violence and stand up for work against racism.

Mayor Amarjeet Sohi, who made the proposal, was one of many council members who recalled hearing that anti-racism actions were sought by Edmontonians during the election campaign.

“They want to feel that this is their city, that it is a place where they can feel safe. They can go out into public places with dignity and that they have the respect they deserve as human beings, ”he said in a speech to the advisers.

He was also one of many who recognized the ways in which systemic racism had affected him.

Sohi recalled being told during his campaign in Mill Woods “how terrible it would be to have someone like me in place of the mayor”.

Reelected Nakota Isga Coun. Andrew Knack said a small number of people told him as they knocked on the door “they are not going to vote for a mayor who is brown”.

“The fact that some people are ready to say it out loud, to someone at their door, shows how challenging this problem is,” Knack told colleagues.

“This is why for me this body of work is so important, because it is things like this that if we do not treat them properly, can then go deeper into serious crime, hate motivated violence. . “

In the first half of 2021, at least eight apparently hate-motivated attacks against Muslim women in the Edmonton area were reported. By the end of June, Edmonton Police had received reports of 21 hate crimes involving people and 23 involving property.

Aaron Paquette of Ward Dene – whose family, he noted, as residential school survivors “literally fought for their right to exist” – expressed his gratitude to Sohi for bringing the motion forward.

And the county of Ipiihkoohkanipiaohtsi. Jennifer Rice acknowledged that previous anti-racism work was probably part of the reason she got a seat as one of the four BIPOC advisers (Blacks, Aboriginals, People of Color).

The administration will present a report in February on the measures that can be taken immediately, partly derived from recommendations already put forward by local organizations.

The current strategy will be developed in collaboration with partners such as the Edmonton Community Safety and Well-Being Task Force, and will also advocate with provincial and federal governments for legislative tools and resources.


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