Summerland mayor setting up anti-racism policy

Mayor's anti-racism policy

There was unanimous approval from District of Summerland council to pass the mayor's motion to draft an anti-racial discrimination and anti-racism policy on Monday.

Mayor Toni Boot, who is black, has continued to fight against racism and hate in her community and often speaks out about her experience as a woman of colour.

After a local family's home was targeted with racist graffiti back in the summer of 2020, Boot rallied people behind the family.

When an Albertan man waved a Confederate flag during an anti-racism parade organized for the family, Boot took matters into her own hands, finding and destroying the Confederate flags which were being sold at a local dollar store.

The mayor has since been working with council in order to address the ongoing issues with racism in the town.

"We are not a racist town but these very public incidents show that we have racial issues here and these affect not only the targeted families or individuals, but the entire community. Everyone, regardless of ethnicity or skin colour deserves to feel safe in the town they call home," Boot said in the council meeting on Monday.

"I know this is an uncomfortable subject, but we are community leaders and we can do better for our residents."

At the 2022 Local Government Leadership Academy Forum, Don Lidstone, Q.C., Managing Partner at Lidstone & Company presented on an anti-racial discrimination and anti-racism Policy: What it is, why local governments should have one, and the steps in developing one.

In the past year, White Rock, Terrace, Port Coquitlam, Mission, and Columbia Shuswap in B.C. have adopted the policy.

"We have had incidents of racism here for sure. And we need to acknowledge that and I think that this is one step that shows leadership and that just says we care and here's what we're doing," Coun. Erin Trainer said.

"I support it wholeheartedly. Get er' done," Coun. Marty Van Alphen added.

The model policy present at the forum is intended to form the basis for local governments to create their own organizational anti-racism policies.

Summerland staff will be drafting the anti-racism policy for further council consideration by July 2022.

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