Lookout is new. Every few weeks Lookout will feature an outstanding person – someone who has made a difference in their own life and the lives of others. Email us your story at email@example.com.
This is the story of a young refugee who through determination and hard work made it in Canada.
Teklemichael Abebe Sahlemariam came to Canada 9 years ago. A student at Addis Abbaba University, he was the president of the student’s union. He spoke about supporting human rights among other issues. Due to this Abebe had to flee Ethopia. He was finally sponsored by the United Church in Dunbar Heights, Vancouver.
In Canada Abebe worked at just about anything – security guard, cleaner, etc. He also went to university, picking up a law degree and then a masters. He is slated to work as lawyer in Mississauga.
Congratulations Abebe. UARR and it’s members, readers and staff wish you the best.
Race and racism central issue of election
An understanding of racism is the single most important quality in our next mayor, says Urban Alliance on Race Relations board member Margaret Hageman.Race is the most important issue in the mayoralty campaign, argues Margaret Hageman.
By: Margaret Hageman Published on Tue Oct 14 2014
Questions of race and racism has become the central issue of Toronto mayoral race. Bring it on.
In a city whose motto is, Diversity Our Strength, an understanding of race relations is the single most important quality Toronto needs of our mayor and city councilors.
For many Canadians, the idea of diversity is about attending a multi-cultural lunch or acknowledging holidays that are not mainstream. Beyond putting roti on your plate, or wishing your neighbour a Happy Diwali, diversity is mostly about race. Racial diversity is a fact of life, on display every day on the subway and in schools, and most of us are pretty comfortable with it. At the same time, we know that Toronto is on the cusp of becoming a population where the majority of racialized (non-white) people will outnumber white folks. Is Toronto truly comfortable with that demographic shift?
Seeing some fears about Toronto’s changing complexion playing out now in this election, where discussion of white privilege has become the latest hot-button issue, I think we are. It might seem to some people that if the non-white majority of the population are no longer racial minorities, then questions of white privilege need not be on the table.
Not quite. We know that differences under the skin barely exist. Talking about race only becomes uncomfortable when we talk about different experiences among races in our shared society — such as why over-qualified brown people are driving Toronto’s taxis, or why so many young black men get questioned by police for no good reason, and why white men are over-represented in high-powered positions. It turns out you can’t talk about race without talking about racism.
There is a head-in-the-sand logic that needs to be called out when people deny white privilege. It denies the experiences of black people who get followed around in a store, over-scrutinized by security; or the voice of a black person driving a high-end car who has been stopped by police, over and over again. White privilege is invisible protection against all forms of racial profiling, including a pervasive form on Toronto’s streets called “carding,” where thousands of black and brown youth have been questioned and documented by police in Toronto over the past 10 years. White privilege is not having been carded, and subject to its cascading negative consequences. Investigative journalism done by Jim Rankin of the Star, reveals the numbers that tell the undeniable story about racial profiling by Toronto Police Services.
White privilege is an invisible protection in the streets and in the job market as well, where as a white person, your credentials are generally not called into question, your pay cheque is higher and your networks open doors. This is not opinion. Again, the facts and statistics in the workplace prove that unchecked systemic racism works to the advantage of white people, as shown by Grace-Edward Galabuzzi and Sheila Block’s research on the colour-coded job market in Canada. Denying this injustice will not make it go away.
I have heard people say that if we just stop talking about race, then racism will go away — like pundits who think that we must become colour-blind because the history of racism, the kind of deliberate discrimination against blacks and other non-white races has been discredited and legislated out of existence.
It is true that human rights have been enshrined into law. However, we cannot be a post-racial society as long as racism exists. White privilege needs to be acknowledged so that we can better see how systemic racism, a mostly silent, unconscious type of racism works.
I am a white woman and I believe that Toronto needs a mayor who does not have his or her head in the sand on race and racism. We all deserve representation and leadership on a council which understands and works to dismantle systemic racism and call out the kind of homophobic, anti-immigrant and racist bigotry that has marred this campaign and shames us all.
Margaret Hageman is a board member with Urban Alliance on Race Relations.
The Urban Alliance on Race Relations is pleased to learn that the Toronto Police Services Board has launched a series of consultations to determine the qualities the public and Toronto Police Service personnel are looking for in a new Chief of Police.
As the Board implements this process we are embolden by the City’s motto “Diversity Our Strength”. We are encouraged by the precedent that was established when a successful community consultation process was conducted before the current Chief was confirmed.
On June 23rd and June 24th, 2000; the Urban Alliance on Race Relations along with the Queen Street Patients Council (now called Empowerment Council) organized a conference detailing 27 practical recommendations to address alternative measures to the use of lethal force by the Police. These recommendations were intended to foster an element of trust with communities and the Police. The conference was aptly called: “Saving Lives: Alternatives to the Use of Lethal Force by Police”.
Sponsored by the Toronto Police Service and the Toronto Police Services Board, along with many community-based organizations, including the Aboriginal Legal Services, the Black Action Defence Committee, and the Chinese Canadian National Council-Toronto Chapter; the conference was specifically designed to bring together diverse communities and the police in a cohesive dialogue. The primary goal was to preventing further deaths.
Fast-forward to the present and we are still anxiously discussing how to address shooting deaths at the hands of the Police; most recently Sammy Yatim. To us it seems as if none of the 27 recommendations from the 2000 conference have been implemented.
In deciding who the next Chief of Police will be, we urge the Board to select a Chief who is knowledgeable on social justice and inclusion issues, respects the City’s motto of “Diversity Our Strength” and have a demonstrated record of successful engagement with Toronto’s diverse communities. As well, UARR strongly urges that the Board involve the community in a meaningful, active and manner in the process of selecting the next Chief of Police.
Based on the release from the Toronto Police Services Board Website, it is apparent that there will be community consultations on the competencies that are necessary in selecting the new chief of the Toronto Police Service. The announcement of consultations is timely and UARR will attend these forums to put forth our perspectives and also hear about the areas of need that must be bridged through the establishment of ‘look fors’ that enable the new chief to set directions in policing that satisfy the unmet needs of Toronto diverse communities. See UARR on the selection process of a new Chief of Police
Police Board Begins Consultations on Selecting New Chief
Date: 2014-10-07 14:01:13
Toronto: The Toronto Police Services Board has launched a series of consultations to determine the qualities the public and Toronto Police Service personnel are looking for in a new Chief of Police.
The public consultations will be in four Toronto locations.
The Board will also host a public survey through its website (www.tpsb.ca,) from October 16 to October 31, 2014.
In addition to the four public consultations, the Board also plans to invite the Toronto Police Association, the Senior Officers’ Organization, as well as the business sector, elected officials, youth and police community advisory groups to provide input.
“Selecting a new Chief is a serious matter and one that will impact the lives of our membership and our community in a very direct way”, says Board Chair Dr. Alok Mukherjee. “We want to make sure we select the right leader who will work with the Board, the City and the community to ensure that Toronto Police Service continues to enjoy ever higher levels of public trust and support through innovation and transformation.”
Dr. Mukherjee says the Board wants to hear from all the city’s diverse communities. He says the consultations will focus specifically on the competencies the new Chief needs to have if he or she is to successfully handle the challenges of leading Canada’s largest municipal police service.
The Board has contracted the services of Diversity Trainers Plus Inc. to identify the competencies that the community considers essential in the new Chief. Lead consultant Maureen Brown will conduct the consultations and the final report will be submitted to the Board no later than November 13th.
For further information contact:
See attached list and locations of the public consultations.
• Scarborough Civic Centre
150 Borough Drive
Committees Room 1 and 2
Tuesday, October 28, 2014
7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
• Metro Hall
55 John St. Toronto
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
• Etobicoke Civic Centre
399 The West Mall
Meeting Rooms 1, 2 and 3
Thursday, October 30, 2014
7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
• North York Civic Centre
5100 Yonge Street
Monday, November 3, 2014
7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
UARR wants Toronto to be a safe campaign space for the full diversity of candidates
The Urban Alliance on Race Relations (UARR) implores all municipal candidates to campaign in a manner that is respectful, inclusive and welcoming of all Toronto residents. Racist, sexist, homophobic and xenophobic comments have no place in an election process and detract from the major issues in this municipal election.
All candidates should condemn these actions and Toronto Police should ensure a safe public space for all campaigns.
We call on all municipal candidates to be proactive by stating publicly their positions on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.
- Opinions/Reader’s Letters Right-wing racism rears its ugly head
- Candidates Weigh in on Issues
- Is Toronto racist? It’s an uncomfortable question to contemplate for a city whose motto is “diversity our strength.” But the racist attacks against the only visible minority contender for mayor have been too overt to ignore, haven’t they?
- Opinions/Reader’s Letters No place for racism in campaign
- Canada is more diverse than ever, except in the halls of power
- Time is Now for Bigger Role for Blacks
This was no formal or stately affair. With a room full of 250 passionate community labour activists, journalists and human rights advocates, greeting and meeting each other like old home week. It was loud and a bit raucous at the UARR’s biennial fundraising dinner.
The 39th Anniversary and Race Relations Award dinner was held on Thursday, September 18th at the Dim Sum King Seafood Restaurant in Toronto, with this years award winners surrounded by family, friends and supporters for their ongoing contributions to community race relations.
Debbie Douglas and Lloyd McKell were 2014 Race Relations winners for their leadership in equity and inclusion in employment systems and the education sectors respectively. The Ashok Chandwani Media Award winners were Jim Rankin (from the Toronto Star) and Enzo DiMatteo (of NOW magazine) for instructive and relevant (print) media representation of race relations in their published work. (Link here to their bios.)
UARR has always enjoyed the support of labour organizations, after all they were original partners in the formation of UARR along with Social Planning Council, under the leadership of Wilson Head. This year, our sponsors were CUPE Local 4400, UNIFOR and United Steel Workers, with further representation from IBEW Local 353, and the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario. The Social Planning Council continues to work closely with UARR.
Our tradition of community partnerships was represented this year with enthusiastic support from Humber College, where UARR’s Making Noise project worked on 2 campuses to address gender-based violence prevention. UARR’s signature issue over 39 years has been community safety, and over time this has fostered respect and ongoing dialogue with Toronto Police Services Board, another sponsor of the 2014 dinner.
Keynote speaker Barbara Hall looked at the gains and changes over the past 10 years as she winds up her time in her role as Chief Commissioner at the Ontario Human Rights Commission. Throughout her time as Chief Commissioner, Barbara Hall has attended UARR events and forums, large and small, always interested in what people had to say about race relations in the community. Human Rights lawyer, Litigator, Julian Falconer introduced Barbara Hall, highlighting her commitment to social justice over many years.
All proceeds go to UARR to continue to organize our regular activities: for an update on activities, become a member and follow us on twitter @UARRToronto. Below are amazing photos from the 39th Anniversary & Awards Dinner taken by Rainer Soegtrop Photography. To download these photos please visit Rainer’s site www.flickr.com/photos/fotosrsphotos.
- Race Relations Award Winner Champions Employment Equity Gleaner (North America Edition) – October 1, 2014
- Urban Alliance City Nights Toronto Star – September 27, 2014
- Ontario Human Rights Head Outlines Progress Pride News – September 25, 2014
- Anti-racism activists recognized by UARR Share News – September 25, 2014
- Celebrate and nurture, rights chief tells UARR The Caribbean Camera – September 25, 2014
- Enzo DiMatteo wins Urban Alliance on Race Relations Media Award Now Magazine – September 22, 2014
- City Council Approves ‘Nelson Mandela Boulevard’ Pride News – September 18, 2014