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Look at successful efforts by other municipalities as a starting point for anti-racism and anti-discrimination activities for your municipality. This section covers five key areas:

  1. Data collection, monitoring and reporting
  2. Raising awareness
  3. Encourage and support initiatives in the community
  4. Policy and by-law development
  5. Responding to incidents of racism and discrimination.

Examples of activities, based on the experiences of various municipalities across Canada, are included. Case studies describe specific initiatives in more detail. There are tips how to make the most of these types of activities.

1. Data collection, monitoring and reporting

Municipalities, in their roles as employers and service providers, should collect and analyze data on issues of racism and discrimination in the community. Gather this information through surveys, interviews, document reviews and so on. Collect information that identifies issues or gaps in services, clarifies issues and suggests possible solutions or initiatives to deal with problems. In addition, gather information to monitor the effectiveness of the municipality’s anti-racism and anti-discrimination initiatives.

Activities and examples

  • Research workforce makeup:
    • The City of Thunder Bay conducted a voluntary self-identification workforce survey of its staff to identify demographic details of its workforce and compare these with the general population.
  • Research issues and concerns in the community:
    • The Sioux Lookout Anti-racism Committee (SLARC) delivered surveys on community attitudes to every postal box in the municipality. 90% of respondents reported race-related problems in the community. This led to community discussions on what actions to take to address the issues in the survey. Sioux Lookout followed up by conducting surveys in 1990, 2000 and 2005 to assess the changing needs of the community.
    • The City of Sudbury held focus groups among the Aboriginal, Francophone, multicultural and educational sectors. Participants identified service deficiencies that are perceived to be associated with institutional racism.
  • Monitor reports of hate crimes and related incidents:
    • York Regional Police monitors the number of hate crime investigations conducted. They also record incidents of possible hate, even if they are determined not to be criminal.
    • The City of Saskatoon monitors police statistics and releases reports of incidents of racism.

Case study – Thunder Bay’s Voluntary Workforce Profile Survey

Located on the shores of Lake Superior, the City of Thunder Bay is the largest municipality in Northwestern Ontario. Thunder Bay’s population of 109,140 is the sixth most culturally diverse in North America. Deeply rooted in European and Aboriginal cultures, Thunder Bay values its diversity and continues to pursue ways of addressing racism and discrimination in its community.

In 2005, the Corporation of the City of Thunder Bay introduced its Voluntary Workforce Profile Survey, which asked municipal employees to identify if they were a member of a historically disadvantaged group. The survey collected data to compare the diversity of the workforce with the diversity of the city. Employees declared if they were members of one or more of the following groups: women, Aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities, and visible minorities. Participation was voluntary.

The survey clearly set out the reasons for collecting the data to address any concerns that employees might have on how the information would be used. The percentage of employees that identified themselves in each of the categories was compared with the city’s demographic information from the Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) of Thunder Bay. (see )

In 2008, a second Voluntary Workforce Profile Survey was conducted and the Corporation compared their workforce data with the demographic data of Thunder Bay from the 2006 Statistics Canada Census. The Corporation found that 3.8% of its employees identified as members of a visible minority group, compared to 2.71% of the population; 6.5% of its employees identified as Aboriginal, compared to 8.31% of Thunder Bay’s population.

By collecting data on its workforce, the Corporation could determine whether its workforce was as diverse as the community. The analysis did not indicate that there were significant differences between the diversity of Thunder Bay’s municipal employees and the city’s population. However, Aboriginals were underrepresented in municipal employment and they were the fastest growing segment of the designated groups in the study.

Based on these findings, the Corporation of Thunder Bay developed human rights policies and procedures that require equitable recruitment practices, hiring and employment. The Corporation reviewed its workforce policies and programs for systemic biases. The Corporation continued tracking its workforce diversity to ensure that municipal employees are representative of the community and its increasing diversity.


Municipalities should:

  • Refer to the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s guide to data collection, Count me in! Collecting human rights-based data, available at
  • Encourage decision-makers to learn about data collection and the role it can play in identifying and eliminating racism and discrimination
  • Establish partnerships with academic researchers to help conducted needed research
  • Involve the community and other stakeholders in any research project that affects them
  • Ensure data is used and stored responsibly.

2. Raising awareness

Holding community dialogues, raising awareness about residents’ rights and responsibilities toward racism, and communicating the consequences of discrimination on the community and its members is an effective way for municipalities to educate the public. When municipalities raise awareness about racism and discrimination, they support their residents to better know what racism and discrimination can look like and help to prevent it.

Activities and examples

  • Host cultural events to create awareness of diversity in the community:
    • The Timmins Multicultural Society hosts annual Multicultural Festivals where local cultural groups showcase traditional cuisine, dress and custom. Performers, craft vendors, clubs and organizations from different cultural groups in the community take part in the festival. These activities support better understanding that may contribute to addressing racism and discrimination
  • Organize annual awareness commemorations:
    • Black History Month is officially acknowledged in many cities including Guelph and Wellington County, New Glasgow, Vaughan, Richmond Hill, Toronto, Winnipeg and Montreal.
    • Asian Heritage Month is recognized and celebrated in Vancouver, Ottawa. Winnipeg, London, Toronto and Calgary.
  • Establish committees that organize cross-cultural dialogue or provide access to information on racism:
    • The Town of Markham’s Race Relations Committee gathers information and consults with the community to advise the municipal council on issues involving race, ethno-cultural equity and related issues. They also partner with institutions and voluntary organizations to promote mutual trust among the town’s racial and ethno-cultural groups.
    • The Town of Ajax's Diversity and Community Engagement Advisory Committee provides a forum for residents to discuss issues of diversity and how the Town can assist or respond to their concerns.
    • The Town of Georgina’s Equity and Diversity Advisory Committee posts meeting agendas and minutes online.
    • The City of Windsor’s Mayor’s Youth Advisory Committee held “Take a Stand Against Racism, an event co-sponsored by community and union groups.
  • Employ local media to raise the profile of diversity, racism, and discrimination issues:
    • The North Bay & District Multicultural Centre hosts a radio show that discusses the city’s immigration program. Current and past programs are also available on North Bay Radio’s website.
  • Create spaces where people can learn about and discuss racism and discrimination:
    • For 12 years, The National Coalition Building Institute has helped the City of Greater Sudbury hold workshops. Participants share their experiences of racism, identify community allies, and work to break down barriers between people in schools, businesses and government. .
  • Create public education campaigns:
    • The City of Toronto distributes posters on hate, equity and respect for diversity. The public education campaign is aimed at educating and providing information to the general population and showing support for racialized communities.
    • Prince George held an Anti-Racism Protocol Signing Ceremony at the Prince George Civic Centre on March 22, 2010.
  • Train and educate stakeholders:
    • The Calgary Centre for Culture, Equity and Diversity runs workshops for youth and people from diverse backgrounds and trains them to respond to racist activities in safe, non-violent and legal ways.
    • Halifax integrates anti-racism and multi-cultural content into existing, ongoing and future training sessions for staff and elected members.

Case Study – Greater Sudbury’s “Diversity Thrives Here” Campaign

The City of Greater Sudbury is the largest city in Northern Ontario with a population of 158,000. Cultural diversity is considered to be an important part of the present and future of Greater Sudbury because the city’s population is aging and the only population growth is within the Aboriginal and multicultural communities. With its increasing diversity, the City has been addressing the barriers to racialized groups to access services and make them feel welcome in Greater Sudbury. As part of its plan, the City of Greater Sudbury submitted a funding proposal to the Department of Canadian Heritage in the fall of 2003 and obtained funding in 2004 for the City’s multiculturalism project, Diversity Thrives Here!

Diversity Thrives Here! involved three stages of organized activities aimed to create cultural awareness. In the first stage of the project, the City engaged with service providers and residents to discuss and identify issues of inclusion and diversity and ways to ensure inclusivity. The City held “Conversation Cafés” and a Capacity-Building Forum to initiate dialogues on inclusion, and created an inventory mapping of municipal services and areas where racialized groups were underserved.

In the second stage of the plan, the City trained community members and youth leaders on ways to raise cultural awareness, to achieve common goals and to build coalitions for cross-cultural understanding. Activities included a three-hour dialogue, “Building Bridges to the Native Community,” on building bridges of understanding and communication with the Aboriginal community. It included ways to respectfully resolve issues. An urban Aboriginal Dialogue involved Aboriginal residents in implementing the City’s diversity plan.

The activities are designed to engage community members in developing a broader plan for anti-racism and anti-discrimination in the city. At a final ”Diversity Summit,” community champions, leaders and members created a diversity plan and governance structure that included tips to make Greater Sudbury more socially and economically inclusive. At the end of the process, City Council passed a resolution to establish the Diversity Advisory Panel and the Community Diversity Plan.


Municipalities can:

  • Collaborate with motivated community members and groups to create awareness about racism and discrimination
  • Participate in anti-racism and diversity conferences to learn about ways to raise awareness and gather tools and promote activities
  • Learn from larger organizations with experience in cross-cultural dialogues to plan events that raise awareness (e.g. The National Coalition-Building Institute; Ontario Healthy Communities Coalition, Canadian Race Relations Foundation).

3. Encourage and support initiatives in the community

Municipalities show leadership by encouraging and supporting community initiatives to address racism and discrimination. They can help residents, organizations, unions, schools and businesses to begin or continue to actively address racism and discrimination. Municipalities can do this by facilitating community initiatives and providing incentives and different types of resources, including information, funding and labour. Encouraging and supporting others is a powerful way to deal with resource limits and expand the effort.

Activities and examples

  • Support cultural events and activities organized within the community:
    • For Kitchener-Waterloo’s Festival of Neighbourhoods, the municipality’s Social Planning Council supports the community in hosting and participating in events, including guidance on event planning ideas and resources.
    • Williams Lake co-hosts “Challenge Day” with community organizations and schools, where students, teachers and volunteers tackle bullying, racism and violence. The program allows students time to be heard and an opportunity for people to accept each other and realize that everyone has their own issues and differences.
  • Establish award programs for services that actively promote diversity and anti-discrimination:
    • Abbotsford Community Services in B.C. organizes the Fraser Valley Cultural Diversity Awards Ceremony, to recognize best practices of local community organizations and businesses that work to promote inclusion and the diversity of the community. It features guest speakers from organizations that promote diversity, as well as representatives from different levels of government.
    • Hamilton recognizes leaders of faith, culture and other groups and partners with leaders
      from large institutions and organizations.
  • Develop information portals to support others as they do their work:

Case study – Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion (

The Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion (HCCI) was formed by joining two initiatives, Strengthening of Hamilton’s Community Initiative (SHCI) and the Civic and Resource Center Initiative (C&RC). SHCI was a city initiative following September 11, 2001. The City was an active member in SHCI and provided project management staff for the initiative through a secondment from the Community Services Department.

In the same year, the City of Hamilton’s Mayor’s office played an important role in coordinating community dialogues after the burning of a local Hindu temple generated concerns among Hamilton citizens. As SHCI evolved into the HCCI, the City continued to provide funding for HCCI. More notably, the HCCI maintains a connection to the Mayor’s Office and Council with the Mayor and a Councillor as members of its Governing Council.

The HCCI acts as a hub to give all Hamilton citizens access to the knowledge and resources needed to build a strong, racially diverse and welcoming city. It has built programming and tools for public education and community engagement. As well, HCCI has initiated a broad strategy to promote equity, access and participation in the key sectors of employment, education, health and housing in the Hamilton community.

HCCI programs include: youth initiatives such as poster and video competitions; Café Conversations in several Hamilton neighbourhoods that bring together politicians and non-elected community leaders to find solution-oriented activities that will help build an inclusive and welcoming community; and the Community Mobilization Team (CMT), a six-month training program for community activists and advocates, teachers and social workers. CMT graduates have been appointed to various City of Hamilton Volunteer Advisory Committees. The HCCI has also developed toolkits and facilitators’ manuals on Organizational Change and Ending Racism.

The HCCI’s work has established a base that is anchored in community engagement, institutional networks and partnerships.


Municipalities can:

  • Work through elected officials to identify and nurture partners to address racism and discrimination
  • Showcase and promote the activities of others employing their website or newsletters, etc.

4. By-law and policy development and review

Municipalities should review old and new by-laws to make sure they conform to human rights principles and the Ontario Human Rights Code. Establishing by-laws is among the most powerful tools available to municipalities. Actively ensuring that these conform to human rights principles and legislation is not only a legal requirement but also a clear signal to the community that anti-racism and anti-discrimination are real commitments. Similarly, municipalities can also develop, implement and enforce specific anti-racism and anti-discrimination policies and review existing policies to eliminate implicit discriminatory barriers.

Activities and examples

  • By-law review and development:
    • Toronto’s Affordable Housing Committee introduced a 10-year affordable housing action plan in 2009, “Housing Opportunities Toronto – An Affordable Housing Action Plan.” Part of this plan proposed a new by-law to encourage more affordable rental homes mixed within market housing developments, and to waive certain development charges.
  • Develop policies that require discriminatory practices are addressed:
    • York Region District School Board developed the Anti-racism and Ethno-cultural Equity Policy, which ensures equitable treatment for students and provides support so that academic achievement is not affected due to a combination of factors. The Board will continue to identify and eliminate systemic inequalities and barriers, including the delivery of the curriculum, student evaluations, staff development and hiring practices.
    • Halifax has established its Community and Race Relations Policy, which aims to ensure that municipal facilities will not be used by individuals and groups that may violate or promote the violation of rights.
  • Monitor anti-discrimination effects of municipal policies:
    • The City of Thunder Bay monitors the effectiveness of policies (e.g. whether employment policies help to increase retention of minority employees). This information is used while reviewing policies for revision.
    • Vancouver’s Social Planning Department requires that issues related to multiculturalism and diversity be an administrator’s priorities in all aspects or work.
  • Review policies and practices to identify and address systemic discrimination:
    • The Town of Kenora and the Kenora Police Service partnered with Grand Council Treaty 3 to review policies, practices and procedures relating to justice, and to ensure they have a positive impact on First Nations people. One goal was to increase the number of Aboriginal employees working in the justice system.
  • Develop policies that require contractors to address discrimination:
    • Saskatoon’s Race Relations Committee reviews policies, practices and programs of the City to recommend amendments and/or new actions with respect to: personnel, law enforcement, leisure services, housing and community services, education and training, use of municipal facilities, and planning and zoning.
    • The City of Toronto developed a Fair Wage Policy that requires organizations that do business with the city pay a “fair wage” and to adopt an anti-discrimination policy.

Case Study – City of Toronto’s Fair Wage Policy

Toronto is a multi-ethnic city and a primary destination for immigrants and refugees who arrive in Canada. It has gained an international reputation for its anti-racism and anti-discrimination initiatives with its inclusive vision to build on the strength of its diversity.

In 1893, Toronto City Council first adopted a Fair Wage Policy that established the rights of workers and required suppliers of goods and services to pay a “fair wage” based on a scheduled established by the City. In 1984, Toronto City Council expanded the Fair Wage Policy to further require the adoption of an anti-discrimination policy which requires suppliers “to uphold policies which prohibit discrimination and which protect the right to be free of hate activity based on race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, disability, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, marital status, family status, receipt of public assistance, political affiliation, religious affiliation, record of offences, level of literacy or any other personal characteristics by or within the organization.”

The policy covers all employees that are hired by contractors, sub-contractors, suppliers and tenants of city property operating businesses, as well as five construction sectors (ICI-industrial, construction, institutional; heavy construction; utilities construction/other non construction; roads; sewers and water main construction). However, the policy does not apply to small businesses (e.g. owner/operators, partnerships, principals of companies).

The policy requires that all organizations doing business with the City have an anti-discriminatory policy or adopt the City’s policy. This requirement is included as a clause within all City contracts and applies to every community organization that receives a grant from the City. The City’s Fair Wage Office monitors the implementation of the policy, and is authorized to investigate complaints against businesses to ensure that companies are acting on the provisions of the agreement. As part of its effort to enforce the policy requirement, the office may enter places of work without prior notice to investigate and review records pertinent to City contracts.

Through this policy, the City of Toronto has been able promote equality and anti-discrimination policies and practices, to monitor businesses to uphold equality and eliminate discrimination. Since then, other municipalities, such as Sudbury, have implemented a fair wage policy.


Municipalities can:

  • Consider regular periodic reviews of by-laws and policies and procedures to make sure that these do not contain elements with discriminatory impacts
  • Inventory complaints related to discrimination in by-laws and policies to help detect possible discriminatory impacts
  • Look at the policies developed by government bodies like the Ontario Human Rights Commission to help identify policies and by-laws that may conflict with anti-racism and anti-discrimination goals

5. Responding to incidents of racism and discrimination

Municipalities can promote the values of anti-racism and anti-discrimination in their communities by promptly and actively responding to incidents. They should do this by collaborating with community organizations and law enforcement bodies to establish and support ways to identify, monitor and respond to acts of racism, such as hate crimes. Document incidents of racism and discrimination, and describe the actions taken in response to the issue.

Municipalities can also encourage the reporting of incidents by community members who have experienced racism and discrimination. Connect with local news media such as local radio programs. Accessible reporting systems and support services can help community members deal with the effects of racism and discrimination and prevent future occurrences.

Activities and examples

  • Provide conflict resolution resources for residents:
    • The Sioux Lookout Anti-Racism Committee provides trained community mediators to assist in achieving co-operative conflict resolution on issues such as discrimination, landlord/tenant and neighbour disputes and workplace relations. They also offer workshops for business and organizations.
  • Develop community racism and response programs:
    • Municipalities in British Columbia, including Campbell River, Kamloops, Quesnel, Terrace and Cranbrook, have adapted the British Columbia Ministry of Community, Aboriginal and Women’s Services Critical Incident Response Model for acts of racism, including hate crimes. A steering committee developed community-wide protocols in response to race-based incidents and created a racism preparedness manual to tell people how to effectively respond to racial incidents.
  • Involve the community in addressing hate crime:
    • The York Regional Police established a Diversity and Cultural Resources Bureau that built relationships with different ethno-racial groups within the community and has key members that they can go to for consultation. The Bureau continues to identify effective ways to communicate with communities to receive anecdotal reports and prevent emerging trends from escalating.
    • With feedback from the community, Toronto Police Service is updating the language it uses when issuing community alerts about suspects.
    • Officials of the Town of Georgina visited local schools and other members of the community to encourage people to denounce the hate crimes that took place in their area.
  • Denounce hate crimes when they occur:
    • The Mayor and City Council of Prince George responded to a request from the Intercultural Committee (appointees who advise the Mayor/City Council) and its community partner, the Multicultural Heritage Society, to create a task force to investigate hate activities. The task force was part of a larger 2000 project titled “Creating Community Awareness of Hate Activities in Prince George” that involved the Multicultural Heritage Society.
    • The Mayor of Thompson, Manitoba denounced hate materials that circulated in schools; the Mayor of Chilliwack spoke out against hate propaganda when it spread to that municipality.
    • Peterborough’s Race Relations Committee held a press conference to denounce racist assaults against Asian Canadian anglers.

Case study – Sioux Lookout

The Town of Sioux Lookout is located in Northwestern Ontario and has a population of approximately 5,000. The community acts as an important centre for health care, education, government and social services to many of the remote First Nations communities to the north. Aboriginal people have relocated from theses communities to make Sioux Lookout their home, and many others come as short-term visitors, either on business or to get services. The change from a predominately Euro-Canadian population to over 50% Aboriginal population presented the community with many challenges as diverse groups struggled to deal with cultural differences. The Sioux Lookout Anti-Racism Committee (SLARC), inspired by a motion of the Municipality to address racial tensions in the community was established in 1988 and is composed of municipal residents. The purpose of SLARC is to help the people of Sioux Lookout learn to work and live together, respecting and celebrating their differences.

The Sioux Lookout Anti-Racism Committee created several systems designed to meet the unique needs of their residents and to provide supports and responses to incidents of racism and discrimination. Responses to racially-motivated incidents involve community members and promote inclusion for all municipal residents and visitors. Its activities are focused on two main sectors: youth and community groups.

SLARC has developed a number of proactive initiatives and committees to respond to incidents of racism and discrimination in the community.

The REsolve Program is a confidential community mediation service. When residents and visitors to the municipality have conflicts around such issues as race and diversity, dispute resolution services are available in Ojibway or English. SLARC found that mediation resolved disputes in approximately 85% of their cases. Mediation services are free of charge or on a sliding scale basis by trained community members. Although REsolve was created for Sioux Lookout, the model was designed so that it could be applied in other communities with similar issues.


Municipalities can:

  • Borrow, study, adapt and apply tools from other programs that respond to community racism, such as a toolkit developed by the British Columbia Human Rights Coalition entitled “Responding to Incidents of Racism and Hate: A Handbook for Service Providers”
  • Partner with community groups to help record and report on incidents of hate and provide reports to the public.

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