Shelburne anti-racism task force to create committee, council to act as liaisons

·3 min read

Shelburne’s freshly minted Anti-Black Racism, Anti-Racism and Discrimination Task Force made giant leaps Monday.

Council adopted 12, three-to-six-month recommendations proposed by the task force. It directs the town to develop an action plan to implement changes identified in the guidance documents.

One of the recommendations is to formally join the Canadian Coalition of Municipalities Against Racism and Discrimination.

“With the town formally making the recommendation, it will be submitted, and I think we would be accepted and celebrated that we participate in joining that particular organization,” said Denyse Morrissey, chief administrative officer.

This involved:

• obtaining support from council

• adopting a resolution to join the coalition

• signing the declaration

• informing the Canadian Commission for UNESCO and announcing their involvement to local partners and residents

Council approved the terms of reference and mandate from the new Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) committee.

The committee includes eight to 10 members from the community and two members of council, with an alternative appointed in case one of the two cannot be in attendance at a meeting.

The DEI committee would provide insight, advice and make recommendations to council relating to: emerging equity or diversity issues or trends arising in the town initiatives to combat racism; acts of prejudice or hate in the town; identifying systemic barriers faced in accessing Shelburne services, information, programs, and facilities; identifying systemic barriers to participation in public life; and achieving the social, cultural, and economic wellbeing of residents, among many other things.

Much of the discussion was on voting rights for council in the committee meeting. Coun. Steve Anderson did not think council members would have voting rights when he proposed the committee.

“If we look at the precedent, we have the task force, where myself and (Mayor Wade Mills) were there (but) we didn’t vote on issues that were being raised,” said Anderson. “We were simply there to guide the task force along the way and made sure they stayed within the terms of the mandate.”

Coun. Walter Benotto agreed with Anderson that the committee should be doing the work, and councillors should only be there for direction.

“I’d rather not be voting on what they’re trying to do or overstep them if I were on that committee, and I’d rather allow them to do the work,” said Benotto.

The task force further directed the town website content to be more reflective of the diverse community.

A review and analysis of the website-specific search brought up 126 images, including 58 of people. Each image that was of a human was reviewed. Overall, they found a diversity of people and race reflected in the photos and images used, much of which is stock photography.

“At this point, we have gone extensively through all of the visual photographs and categorized them, and we’ll work towards expanding that,” said Morrissey. “We have not had time to look at all of the content, but that will be an ongoing review that’ll take us a few months.”

The town website will add a feature to allow visitors to have content translated into multiple languages. The cost to update the website to include Google translator was $750 and is included in the administration 2021 budget.

Joshua Santos, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Orangeville Banner