I was so pleased to hear about the anti-racism motion that was brought forward by Kingston City Council and I would like to commend Councillor Jeff McLaren for his work in this area. I am always dismayed to hear of any racism or discrimination in our city. Whether the discrimination is insidious, or blatant and outward, it is utterly unacceptable, and this kind of dialogue and behaviour has no place in our society.
At this juncture, we have an opportunity to go much further. It is not enough to just build a society where outward racism and discrimination is not acceptable and no longer occurs - however wonderful that would be. As we look outward and develop that critical framework to prevent and guard against discrimination, we must also look inward at our own actions, words, and behaviours and those of our friends, families and colleagues. We must strive to set an example and build a more compassionate world. We need to be vigilant against all discrimination.
I am proud to say that Ontario is working on combatting racism through various policies and through the Anti-Racism Directorate (ARD) lead by the Honourable Michael Coteau. We know that racialized people continue to face inequitable outcomes. On March 7, our government introduced ‘A Better Way Forward: Ontario’s 3-Year Anti-Racism Strategic Plan’ which targets systemic racism by building an anti-racism approach into the way government develops policies, makes decisions and measures success.
The Ontario strategic plan aims to reduce disparities affecting Indigenous and racialized people in government policies, programs and services. We will also increase public awareness and understanding of systemic racism. We will strengthen relationships with Indigenous and racialized communities through community collaboration and ensure long-term sustainability and accountability of the government’s anti-racism work.
These activities provincially can complement what happens in our communities and neighbourhoods. It will take a collective effort to ensure that we continue to work toward making Kingston and the Islands and Ontario inclusive, and a place where everyone feels safe, supported, and encouraged to celebrate diversity.
Only when racial equity is the norm and all public and private organizations, all levels of government, institutions, faculty and student bodies, boards of directors, etc. have people of colour and other minorities employed, supported and promoted, then we will know we have arrived in each of our respective communities. We can and we will build that society that we want to live in. It will ‘take a village’ so let’s get started and help each other get there.
Sophie Kiwala, MPP for Kingston and the Islands
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