Established as part of the township’s response to anti-Black racism last summer, the committee spent most of its meetings last year determining its terms of reference. The group, comprised of six community members and Mayor Pierre Leroux, presented its “three pillars” to council for approval in the last meeting of 2020.
The committee expected to meet every second month to discuss ways the township could better address inclusion and prevent discrimination or barriers for members of the community. At its January 11 meeting, the committee discussed both bylaws and township policy that could be examined under the new terms of reference. Age, ethnic origin, disability, sexual orientation, marital status, and records of offences were some areas members planned to examine.
The educational component was intended to help staff, the council, and the wider community understand considerations related to diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as the impact of actual or perceived unconscious bias on decision-making. The committee would also direct the council to emerging equity or diversity issues, as well as recommend initiatives against racism, discrimination and prejudice.
The township’s bylaws, policies, and programs would be examined to determine whether their delivery would prevent inclusion of different groups. The committee would make recommendations to promote equity and diversity in those programs, which would then be brought before the council.
The committee also planned to develop partnerships with other organizations, while promoting dialogue between council and the wider community to ensure issues were heard. Leroux told council at its December 21 meeting that he had enjoyed working with the committee to set the terms of reference.
The committee was one of a range of measures the township adopted in response to global and local protests against racism in 2020. The council continued its search for somebody to “rededicate” the township to, in light of concern over its namesake’s history of slave ownership and anti-abolition advocacy.