Council to begin public hearing on systemic racism in Calgary
CALGARY -- As community advocates continue to demand action from city council, Tuesday marks the first day of a two-day public hearing on the issue of systemic racism in Calgary.
The meeting comes after thousands of Calgarians marched through the streets to speak out against racism and police brutality during several recent demonstrations.
Calgary’s Community and Protective Services Committee has set aside Tuesday and Wednesday to hear from at least 150 citizens who have registered to speak.
Due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, each person will call in remotely and be given five minutes to share their experiences of injustice and trauma. They will also be able to suggest any recommendations to make the city more inclusive for everyone.
The hearing was approved unanimously three weeks ago by council after a petition from the Canadian Cultural Mosaic Foundation received more than 70 thousand signatures. Council has allowed speakers to submit letters online and register since June 30.
Tuesday morning’s hearing in council chambers will include presentations from five expert panelists include Malinda Smith who was recently named vice-provost of equity, diversity and inclusion at the University of Calgary.
Smith will co-chair the meeting alongside Ward 9 Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra who says now is the time for city hall to listen and create real change.
"This is a societal moment where we can transition from being generally not racist to anti-racist," said Carra. "We want to translate this now from action in the streets to action within the walls of government, it’s about growing that list and confirming those plans to approve terms of reference for a new committee on anti-racism."
Each panelist will make a presentation before the 135 speakers are given their time to speak.
Meanwhile, the Calgary anti-racism community group, We Stand YYC, has organized a peaceful demonstration outside of city hall to coincide with the hearing. The group says it will be there to show support and solidarity for all Calgarians who share their experiences with city council.
It’s not known how many people will attend the demonstration, but organizers are reminding everyone to practice physical distancing, bring hand sanitizer, and wear a mask.