The Timmins Economic Development Corporation (TEDC), with support from the federal government, is currently hosting a survey in the hopes of better understanding racism and discrimination in the community with the recently launched Diversity Awareness Project.
With funding through the Anti-Racism Action Program and working with a project advisory group that includes residents, community partners and people with lived experience, the TEDC hopes that the survey will allow them to build on the anecdotal evidence that community members have described, in order to make actionable changes.
“Racism and discrimination have come up several times in the past through various surveys and focus groups and consultations that have been done,” said Madison Mizzau, TEDC Community Development Consultant.
“Anecdotally, we've heard incidences and experiences that the indigenous population, as well as newcomers, have faced here in terms of racism and discrimination, but we don't have baseline data for that, only stories that you hear in passing. Through this survey, we do want to get a sense of what's really happening right now and what residents are experiencing.”
Additionally, the group found implementation of the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot, which has as its centre the need for any community that wishes to be a pilot city must be one that is considered “welcoming,” to be excellent timing for the venture.
“For us,” said Mizzau, “The pilot is about economic growth for the city and helping employers with the labor gap. And in order to really address the attraction and retention of employees to the community, we do have to address the discrimination that might be happening and create a welcoming community for those newcomers.”
The survey that the TEDC is hosting is to learn more of the incidents of discrimination and racism that community members face, but not just that; because the survey was designed with the Diversity Awareness Projects advisory members, there are considerations for those who might find sharing the information traumatic as well as a way for those who have witnessed incidents for themselves to inform the TEDC of those issues.
Once completed, the information will be compiled to help inform the community partners, the TEDC, as well as other communities that may wish to use it as a toolkit for their own initiatives. The TEDC announced in a release that the information gathered would also inform a “public awareness campaign sharing individual stories and highlighting the positive contributions of diverse groups in Timmins, as well as a workplace-focused initiative that will provide businesses with resources and tools to promote inclusive workplaces.”
With the survey results, as well as the support of the Project Advisory Group, which also includes: local residents, the City of Timmins, Timmins and District Multicultural Centre, Newcomers Encouraging Self-Empowerment in Timmins, Timmins Native Friendship Centre, Kunuwanimano Child and Family Services, Reseau du Nord, Université de Hearst, Collège Boreal, Northern College, Timmins Chamber of Commerce, and members of the Indigenous Advisory Committee, the TEDC hopes that Timmins will continue on its path to a welcoming community.
The survey is anonymous and is open until March 31, 2021. It can be found online here.
Jenny Lamothe, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sudbury.com