When incidents of racism or discrimination happen in communities, the entire community is harmed. To minimize this harm, it is important that any response be quick and close to the place where it happened. People bringing this harm tend to think twice when they hear from their local mayor, their local police officer or their next-door neighbour that this behaviour is not welcome and will not be tolerated.
This is the kind of mobilization that can step beyond incidents that have already happened and prevent such incidents from happening in the future. The OHRC is working to educate and empower communities so they can take this kind of coordinated action.
For example, we teamed with the City of Vaughan and the Canadian Race Relations Foundation (CRRF) to present an important forum focused on “Mobilizing Municipalities to Address Racism and Discrimination.” Through this partnership, municipal officials, community representatives, universities and the non-profit sector worked together to create a “best-practice” manual for municipalities to confront racism and discrimination. This manual is linked to the UNESCO initiative to create a wider Canadian Coalition of Municipalities Against Racism and Discrimination (CCMARD).
The forum offered a platform to consider the opportunities and challenges municipalities face in making their communities inclusive and welcoming to all people. “As our society continues to change, Canadian municipalities have a leading role to play in promoting a strategy of inclusiveness where all members can live in harmony and diversity,” said Ayman Al-Yassini, Executive Director of the CRRF.