Cumberland wants to end racism in its borders once and for all.
Council is now looking to a new policy to set some guidelines about what is considered unacceptable.
“We are still unfortunately having racist incidents happening in the village on an ongoing basis,” Coun. Vickey Brown said at the July 11 meeting.
Specifically, the village is following a policy for anti-racial discrimination and anti-racism that is being developed for municipal governments in the province by the law firm of Lidstone and Company. The law firm presented it at a local government leadership academy in April.
“They had handily created a legal document template for us to follow,” Brown said.
As background, a Cumberland staff report noted that systemic and normalized racism in the culture have been brought to light in recent years, both in organizations and the broader culture. The policy is a response to the situation, as local governments and other organizations are trying to find ways to combat racism. A memo from Lidstone and Company said the policy is not intended to supersede or supplant local governments’ bullying and harassment policies, complaints processes or other processes available to individuals or groups.
The foundation of the policy includes publicly acknowledging the existence of racism in all its forms; recognizing racial diversity in the community; committing to the fundamental rights, personal worth and human dignity of People of Colour and Indigenous Peoples; keeping day-to-day operations and governance free of racism and racial discrimination; and breaking down barriers, deconstructing biases and fostering and promoting an inclusive, respectful and welcoming environment for all who work, volunteer, do business and interact with the local government.
“I think this will help us move forward,” Brown added.
Before adopting the policy, council has agreed to send it to its accessibility and inclusion committee for comment after which time staff will bring back a policy for council to consider.