By Neil Armstrong
|Mayor John Tory greeting some of the people who attended his Black History Month reception at City Hall in February.|
The City of Toronto will be conducting nine more Anti-Black Racism Community Conversations within the first half of March.
Since January 21, the first of these conversations took place at Ujima House with Mayor John Tory in attendance.
In total, 32 community conversations about anti-Black racism were hosted by 11 partner agencies across Toronto in January and February.
The partners are: Young & Potential Fathers in partnership with Black Daddies Club, Women’s Health in Women’s Hands, For Youth Initiative, Tropicana Community Services, METRAC, Jamaican Canadian Association, Skills for Change, Oasis Centre des Femmes, Delta Family Resource Centre, African-Canadian Social Development Council and the Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention.
These organizations were selected partners to work with the City of Toronto on the project to reflect the diversity of Toronto's Black communities in age, sexual orientation and gender identity, areas of residents, region of origin, areas of interest, etc.
At his Black History Month Reception at City Hall on February 22, Mayor Tory thanked Premier Wynne for being among those who have shown “great personal leadership on the issue of anti-Black racism.”
“We’re here celebrating history, that is a history where we have to acknowledge the fact that in the past and in the present that it is still being experienced right here,” he said.
Tory said he had attended three of the conversations and he was impressed with the manner in which young and older African Canadians, people from the Black communities in Toronto held the gatherings constructively.
He said the community conversations are giving the city what it wants and what it needs to come up with an action plan to address anti-Black racism.
The community conversations are organized around a city review of recommendations made by members of Toronto's Black communities over the past 41 years.
About 500 residents from Toronto’s diverse Black communities have already taken part in these small “kitchen table-like conversations facilitated by 15 civically engaged youth.
The results of all the community conversations and online input will be compiled by city staff with help from community leaders to create the “Toronto Action Plan to Confront Anti-Black Racism.”
All of this information will be accessible to the public online at http://www.TorontoForAll.ca.
After the city has drafted the initial version of the action plan, it will also make it available on the website.
The city plans to host a citywide meeting to finalize the action plan with residents.
The “Toronto Action Plan to Confront Anti-Black Racism” will be presented to city council for approval and implementation in partnership with Black communities.
The action plan will be written and reviewed between March and April 2017 with the intended goal of presenting it to the executive committee in June, and the city council in July.
Meanwhile, the province’s Anti-Racism Directorate released its 3-year anti-racism strategic plan, “A Better Way Forward,” on March 7.
It is the province’s strategy for combatting and dismantling systemic racism in order to achieve fairer outcomes for racialized people, including Black, Indigenous and Muslim communities.
Michael Coteau, Minister of Responsible for Anti-Racism, released the strategy at Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office in Toronto, one of the province’s most ethnically diverse neighbourhoods.
The directorate said this strategy is an acknowledgement that racism—anti-Black racism, anti-Indigenous racism, Islamophobia and racisms experienced racialized communities—is real, and can act as a barrier to achieving opportunity.
“To complement A Better Way Forward, the province is also announcing the Ontario Black Youth Action Plan, a targeted, community-based approach to increasing access to supports and opportunities for Black children, youth and their families to address outcomes disparities. This $61 million commitment over the next five years will allow government to work with Black leaders, organizations and youth to shape stronger futures for Black youth,” said the directorate in a press release.
The plan includes a commitment to develop a framework for the collection of race-based data to monitor the impact of policies and programs on different segments of the population.There are also plans for public education and awareness initiatives targeting racism, including Islamophobia and anti-Semitism, and proposed anti-racism legislation to ensure sustainability and accountability of the government’s anti-racism work.