Perth County launches first phase of public engagement for diversity, anti-racism charter

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PERTH COUNTY – Perth County’s Economic Development and Tourism Department launched the first phase of public engagement for the development of a charter on diversity, inclusivity and anti-racism on March 8.

On Jan. 28, county council approved a motion for Perth County to begin the development of a charter for inclusivity and anti-racism. Staff have developed a plan that includes a variety of opportunities for public input and engagement to help form the language that will be included in the charter.

The first opportunity for input is through a 16-question survey to gather information about the lived experiences of exclusion and discrimination in the community. The survey also asks for contributions from the community on the type of language and value statements that should be considered in the formulation of the draft charter document. To complete the survey and to sign up to participate in a community roundtable, Perth County residents can visit Paper copies are available upon request by phoning 1-800-463-8275.

Gezahgn Wordofa, founder of the Multicultural Association of Perth Huron (MAPH) said he thinks the survey is a positive step but the MAPH board have concerns that those community members most affected by racism may not have a good command of English. He also worries they may be reluctant to come forward to participate in the roundtable sessions, which are the second opportunity for public engagement.

Perth County is conducting a series of four community roundtables between March 23 and March 31. Enrollment in each session is being limited to 15 participants.

The sessions are being facilitated by Dharshi Lacey, director of equity, inclusion and governance for the Pillar Nonprofit Network.

These sessions aim to delve deeper into the issues of diversity, equity and inclusion in the communities across Perth County and gather ideas from the community about how the charter can make Perth County a more welcoming community.

“It is great to see this initiative take the next step forward,” said Perth County Warden Jim Aitcheson. “I would encourage anyone who lives in Perth County who has experienced exclusion or discrimination of any kind to take the time to complete the survey or participate in a roundtable.”

Colin Burrowes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Listowel Banner