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How the City is working to address systemic racism

November 23, 2021
Feature Stories

In 2022, the City of Ottawa will develop its first Anti-Racism Strategy, which will include strategic actions, key performance indicators and expected outcomes to confront systemic racism in our city’s systems and structures.

In the meantime, the Anti-Racism Secretariat is gathering information from residents, stakeholders and community groups, to help inform the strategy. Here is a summary of what’s happened so far and how you can become more involved.

An image of the City's Anti-Racism Secretariat logo which includes the title "Anti-Racism Secretariat" and five illustrated diverse individuals.

Tell us what you think

As a follow up to engagement sessions held earlier this year, the Anti-Racism Secretariat will hold an additional round of engagement sessions on Saturday, January 15, 2022 and Thursday, January 20, 2022. 

These sessions will give residents and community stakeholders the opportunity to respond to the What We Heard report (see below), provide further feedback and highlight any gaps that should be considered in the Anti-Racism Strategy.

The City will share further information and registration details for the third round of engagement sessions in the coming weeks. 

What We Heard

This year, the Anti-Racism Secretariat launched a series of public engagement initiatives to give residents the opportunity to help shape its work. To date, more than 600 residents, including community stakeholders, have participated in virtual action planning sessions and surveys.

This month, the Anti-Racism Secretariat released a What We Heard report which summarizes the recommendations and feedback received during the sessions about how the City can address systemic racism. The report also includes an overview of Indigenous engagement that was completed by an Indigenous-led third-party consultant.

Here’s a snapshot of the recommendations in the report, focused on the six priority areas previously identified by the community:

  • Employment equity
    • Increase hiring, promotion and retention of racialized staff.
    • Establish clear benchmarks/targets to track progress.
    • Improve access to support, mentorship, networks and decision makers.
  • Governance
    • Ensure there is meaningful and substantive representation in governance structures.
    • Promote governance representation opportunities directly to racialized communities.
    • Involve racialized communities in governance discussions.
  • Housing
    • Continue to advocate for additional funding for housing.
    • Increase access to affordable housing.
    • Implement a process to deal with racism in the housing system.
  • Youth development
    • Increase the availability and diversity of resources and programs for youth outside school hours.
    • Increase networking and mentorship opportunities for racialized youth.
    • Implement stable, long-term funding for youth programming.
  • Health outcomes
    • Increase funding/accessibility/support for culturally responsive approaches to mental health and wellness.
    • Increase the availability of culturally responsive mental health services in a variety of languages.
    • Implement public awareness campaigns to address microaggressions, mental health, stigma and cultural competency.
  • Economic development
    • Include business development and mentorship programs for racialized communities.
    • Apply an equity lens to City contract allocation.
    • Allocate more funding and grants to diverse businesses.

You can read the full What We Heard report on Engage Ottawa.

Anti-Racism Advisory Table

To ensure community voices continue to guide the City’s Anti-Racism Strategy, the Anti-Racism Secretariat also created an Anti-Racism Advisory Table.

Indigenous, Black and racialized leaders, community members and City staff make up the 24-person table, who met for the first time on Thursday, September 28. Table members collaborate to raise awareness about systemic and individual experiences of racism, encourage actions to address racism and provide input and recommended actions into the strategy. The group brings forward community perspectives on all aspects of racism, including the six priority areas.

The table meets every two months to:

  • Share expertise and knowledge about key issues, risks and opportunities.
  • Inform the table on trends, community concerns and best practices in anti-racism approaches.
  • Identify opportunities to advance the progress, adoption and integration of the Anti-Racism Strategy within City systems, structures and services.

For more information on City programs and services, visit ottawa.ca, call 3-1-1 (TTY: 613-580-2401) or 613-580-2400 to contact the City using Canada Video Relay Service. You can also connect with us through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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