'North Bay has racism': Equity and inclusion committee wants city council to be more inclusive
NORTH BAY -- An equity and inclusion committee in North Bay is asking city council to adopt new policies to make the community more inclusive.
The committee was formed by a book club studying a manual on racism called "...But I'm NOT Racist! Tools for Well-Meaning Whites" by Kathy Obear and its mission is to remove all systemic barriers in North Bay by 2030 and include everyone from all cultures and backgrounds.
"I hope that we can all just work together," said committee member Gemma Victor. "North Bay has racism and racism does exist."
The committee is made of six people from all different backgrounds and it asked North Bay City Council to become a member of the Canadian Coalition of Inclusive Municipalities and proclaim 2021 as the year of equality and inclusion in the city.
"The community isn't a very inclusive one to people who are different. We need to build a healthy community for everyone," said committee member Vindra Sahadeo. "As it stands right now, we are bringing in hundreds of international students into our college and university."
The committee is looking for a city council representative to work with them.
Data from the city's most recent population census shows that just under 20 per cent of people are either Indigenous or are an immigrant.
"I think it's a great committee if they're going to do what they say they're going to do, it's needed," said City Councillor Tanya Vrebosch when asked if she would support the committee's requests.
After George Floyd's death at the hands of Minneapolis police officers in May, movements like Black Lives Matter in the U.S. and Canada increased the discussion of race and police brutality.
In July, about 2,000 people marched in a peaceful Black Lives Matter demonstration held at North Bay city hall.
"The movement definitely brought the attention of anti-racism and racism as a whole, globally," said Victor.
The group says immigrants, Indigenous people, people with a low-income level, among others are discriminated against every day and that's why it wants city council to step up.
"We need to speak out and let folks know what's really happening in our community," said Victor.
The committee is expecting to hear back from council at the end of the month.