Concerns about racism and how to build a more inclusive city has prompted Port Coquitlam to double the size of a new anti-racism committee following a massive public response.
A committee, initially envisioned at 12 to 15 members, will now have 30 after the city selected a group out of dozens of qualified people from a broad spectrum of interests, including recent immigrants, students, LGBTQ+2 advocates, business owners, people with disabilities, as well as different genders, ages, employment and income levels.
The large size of the Roundtable on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion doesn’t phase the city’s mayor, who said the group will not only talk about issues but make recommendations for change.
“We received dozens of applications — it’s been heartening to see the passion in our community on this topic,” Brad West state in a press release. “I want to be clear that this is not just tokenism. There will be plenty of open dialogue of course, but I also expect tangible outcomes to help ensure our city is a place that welcomes everyone and does not tolerate discrimination of any kind.”
The intent is for the roundtable to meet regularly and develop a process and forum for feedback, discussion and action. Smaller working groups will be established when the roundtable meets in September, along with a terms of reference and agreed-upon priorities, the press release further stated.
Port Coquitlam launched the roundtable in June in light of the growing concern about systemic racism and discrimination and its negative impact on individuals, communities and society.
The need for the initiative was underscored on the weekend when racist graffiti was reported — and then immediately cleaned up by the city — at the Shaughnessy Bike Skills Park.
One of the first tasks of the roundtable will be to work with the city on an anti-racism and discrimination policy.
The list of roundtable advisors is as follows:
• Ali Afzali, Clinician
• Aline Alves, Student
• Diana Barry, Program Manager, Newcomers Program, Vancity
• Jason Bawa, Key Account Manager, 3M Canada
• Courtney Brown, Business Owner, Northpaw Brew Co.
• Ronald Callender, Independent Publisher
• Abigail Cameron, Program Manager, Tri-Cities Local Immigration Partnership
• Adeebah Chowdhury, Merchant Success Team Lead, Shopify
• Michael Currie, IT manager
• Anu Dawit-Kanna, Human Resources Manager
• Rachel DeCicco, Aquatic Leader and Member of Aboriginal Youth Leadership Council
• Meena Dhillon, Social Worker and Lawyer
• Anthony Ezeaputa, International Business Development with a focus on Africa
• Lisa Flesher, Service Representative, LIUNA Local 1611
• Arun Ghag, Student and Co-Chair, School District 43 Student Leadership Council
• Shelby Hall, Sr. QA Manager, Electronic Arts
• April Kornitsky, University Student, First Nations Studies and Health Sciences
• Kanchan Lal, Museum Coordinator, PoCo Heritage
• Ellen Lu, Student and Weight Lifting Coach
• Maryam Ostadi, Operations Supervisor, Food for the Soul Project Society
• Amanda Poh, Product Designer and Strategist
• Jas Qualitz, Customer Service
• Sarah Rehimi, Policy Analyst, Government of British Columbia
• Aaron Schroeder, Business Owner and Operations Manager, Nutri-Nations Food
• Renu Seru (Dr.), Counsellor/Therapist
• Katrina Shelast, Salon Owner and Stylist
• Hope Taylor, Instructional Facilitator for Basic Occupational Education with Douglas College’s Vocational Education & Skills Training Program
• Jami Watson, Costco employee
• Caitlin Whitson, Grade 10 Terry Fox Secondary Student and Member of Aboriginal Youth Leadership Council
• Mark Williams, Healthcare Worker
• Alexander Windross, Team Lead at Cineplex and Volunteer Youth Leader for the LGBTQ2+ youth group in Port Coquitlam
• Shauna Zepeski, Volunteer and Foster Parent
RESOURCES AND SUPPORTS
You can report graffiti or other problems with a city service to 604.927.3111, at www.portcoquitlam.ca/report or through the free PoCo Waste-line app.
Anyone who has experienced or witnessed racism or discrimination is advised to contact VictimLinkBC a toll-free, confidential, multilingual telephone service available across B.C. and the Yukon 24 hours a day, seven days a week by calling 1-800-563-0808 or sending an email to VictimLinkBC@bc211.ca.
Incidents of racism or hate can also be reported to the RCMP’s non-emergency line at 604-945-1550 or at www.hatecrimebc.ca.