Windsor needs to cast a wider net with its anti-racism bid package, diversity chair says

·3 min read
Peter Ijeh is chair of the Diversity Committee for the City of Windsor. (Jacob Barker/CBC - image credit)
Peter Ijeh is chair of the Diversity Committee for the City of Windsor. (Jacob Barker/CBC - image credit)

The City of Windsor has renewed its hunt for a consultant to create an anti-racism and anti-discrimination strategy. But the chair of its diversity committee says by posting to the website Biddingo, the city isn't advertising it broadly enough.

The city posted the bid package, originally due to close on June 24, after criticism stalled an effort last summer. The bid package asks for potential consultants to take on the strategy.

"We are committed to incorporating equity, diversity and inclusion in the way we deliver services," it says.

But Peter Ijeh, chair of the city's diversity committee and a member of the Black Council of Windsor-Essex, says the consultant the city needs likely isn't the same as the people and institutions checking Biddingo every week.

"My concern is who receives the document and who has access to bidding on it," Ijeh said.

"If we're talking about anti-racism and we're talking about systemic racism within a system structure. I would consider those people with lived experiences to be the ones who have never been included."

"We're going to be further marginalized in the process."

The city posted the bid after a nearly year-long wait.

The Multicultural Council of Windsor and Essex County was due to head up a council-approved initiative last year. Ijeh criticized the organization's participation last year, saying that it had "no knowledge of what anti-racism is about."

Ijeh's committee was already working on a similar project, he said at the time, and wasn't consulted at all.

The city's new request for proposal says it needs a consultant to formulate an anti-racism and anti-discrimination strategy, and to bring "lived experience."

"The selected proponent will design and deploy a range of community-based engagement tools/methods with the purpose of engaging diverse residents and staff and identifying issues, barriers, gaps challenges and opportunities," the document reads.

The city posted the request on Biddingo, a site widely used by government agencies to solicit contractors for various types of work.

Not everyone checks Biddingo

Ijeh said that he had no issue with the wording of the document itself, but the way the city is informing the public is an issue.

I really hope that when they select somebody that it is a Black company or that there are definitely Black people represented in doing the work that needs to be done. - Leslie McCurdy

"How are we going to find them? In a vacuum?... We need to put [the bid documents] where they are accessible," Ijeh said. "We have social media now. We need to put them out there."

The proposal was scheduled to close on June 24, but the city extended it until July 11.

Jason Moore, a spokesperson for the city, said the posting is in an appropriate spot.

"However, the RFP (request for proposals) is still open and can be extended if the committee now feels that more avenues of outreach would be desirable," Moore said.

Hopes city move not just performative

"I'm glad that the city is finally taking this step to have someone come in to advise them on how they should develop an anti-racism, particularly an anti-Black racism strategy," said Leslie McCurdy, chair of the Black Council of Windsor Essex.

"I'm a little disappointed they still haven't had a conversation with us. We do speak from lived experience so we do have some thoughts and opinions on what it is that needs to be fixed."

Jennifer La Grassa/CBC
Jennifer La Grassa/CBC

She said she hopes the city's move isn't just preformative as there is an election coming up.

"I really hope that, when they select somebody, it is a Black company or that there are definitely Black people represented in doing the work that needs to be done," she said.

"We've heard of a lot of anti-Black racism or diversity sessions that are really really lacking in any real understanding of how deep the work is that needs to be done."

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting