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Canada Post Stamp Commemorate Nelson Mandela Connection to Canada and the World

January 28, 2015

The Urban Alliance on Race Relations is pleased that Nelson Mandela’s connection to Canada has been memorialized on three Canada Post Stamps in honour of African Heritage/Black History Month 2015. Nelson Mandela’s courage, resilience, persistence and leadership in dismantling the apartheid system in South Africa was a journey embraced by Canadians from coast to coast.

The president of UARR Gary Pieters remembered that during his time as an undergraduate student at the University of Toronto in the late 1980s-early 1990s, students at Canada’s largest university, urged and succeeded in getting the University of Toronto governing council to divest from South Africa, as part of many strategies used to show solidarity with the Anti-Aparthied movement, and dismantle the unjust system of apartheid that existed at that time in South Africa.

Mandela’s subsequent release from prison following 27 years behind bars and his triumphant victory at the polls as South Africa’s first Black President, led to the transformation of South Africa into a multiracial, multicultural and pluralist democracy.

His visit to Canada in 1990 included significant events in Toronto including the address to a large crowd of Torontonians at a public event on the lawns of Queen’s Park. The dedication of a public school – Nelson Mandela Park Public School – in his honour, and recently the City of Toronto approved the honourary naming of University Ave in his honour. As a fitting tribute, there will be the Spirit of Mandela Freedom Walk on June 20th, to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of his visit to Toronto.

The UARR is pleased to lend our support and involvement in initiatives that celebrate the legacy of Nelson Mandela, an honourary citizen of Canada, and a great citizen of the world who has inspired many to become agents of progressive social change.

Nelson Mandela stamp unveiled by Canada Post

UARR at TDSB Trustees Public Consultation on #ONTed Minister Liz Sandals 13 Directives and The Wilson report

January 26, 2015

On January 26th, The Urban Alliance on Race Relations (UARR) attended the TDSB Trustees Public Consultation Meeting on the Ontario Minister of Education Minister Liz Sandals Directions and the Margaret Wilson report to the Minister.

Our immediate past president Sharon Simpson made the UARR presentation to the board of trustees.


UARR Response to Minister Sandals Directions and The Wilson report

The Urban Alliance on Race Relations (UARR) was established in 1975 to educate and advocate on issues of anti-racism and other forms of discrimination.

The mandate of the UARR is to work to enhance respectful, peaceful and harmonious relationships among the different communities in our diverse and complex city.

For decades the UARR has worked with community partners to provide leadership on education policies, police and community relations and employment equity. We urge decision makers in both the public and private sector to adopt and implement progressive policies to make Toronto a more equitable and inclusive city for all.

The UARR has been a key community partners with the TDSB, and has provided input on TDSB policies regarding ESL and International Languages programs, school safety and other equity issues.

We value the important work done by the TDSB, especially on issues related to academic success of students from racialized, and marginalized communities. We can say with confidence that without the leadership and hard work provided by both trustees and senior staff over the many difficult years since amalgamation, our students and schools would be in much worse shape.

In our view the recent provincial report has gone too far. It pointed out issues of concern that are already known, but did not deal with why those issues occurred: the seriously flawed funding formula, the relentless pressure to close schools and sell school properties, and, worst of all, persistent demands to balance the board budget at all costs.

The province does all the pressuring. The Board, by contrast, has to deal with that pressure and at the same time provide a safe and encouraging learning environment to an increasingly diverse student population from literally all over the world.

For the sake of students, teachers, parents and the diverse communities that elected you, we encourage all TDSB trustees to work together to overcome this current situation. You should feel confident that the community has your back. Your voices are needed to ensure our students receive the education they deserve.


UARR Urged the Creation of a City of Toronto Equity Advisory Committee

January 26, 2015

The Urban Alliance on Race Relations reviewed the City of Toronto Executive Committee EX2.1 – Council Advisory Bodies for 2014-2018 Term of City Council and advocated for a committee that builds upon equity, diversity, inclusion and human rights for our increasingly diverse city.

As a result of our collective submissions, the City of Toronto executive committee “directed the City Manager report to Executive Committee in 2015 on establishing an Equity Advisory Committee with a mandate to advise Council on race relations, gender equity, LGBTTQ issues, immigration issues and refugee issues.”

This is an example of the important role played by equity, diversity and inclusion organizations and leaders in ensuring that equity issues are on the table in the halls of decision making.

Our letter to the executive committee called for the establishment of an Equity Committee with a broad mandate to deal with intersectional issues of race relations, gender equity, LGBTTQ, immigration and refugee issues is copied below and is also available online at

January 21, 2015

Letter to Mayor John Tory and the Executive Committee

Re : City Council Establish Equity Committee

Dear Mayor Tory and Members of the Executive Committee,

The Urban Alliance on Race Relations was established in 1975 to educate and advocate on issues of anti-racism, and to work to maintain stable, peaceful and harmonious relations among the various ethno-racial groups within the Greater Toronto community. We celebrate our 40th anniversary this year.

Together with other community groups, we have had a long track record of working with City Council through its advisory committee structure to help develop and implement policies on race relations and other equity issues.

In recent years, however, this formal structure has been drastically changed to the point that only issues affecting the Aboriginal and Disability communities would have regular status reports for consideration at Council.

At this important beginning of the new Council, we urge the Executive Committee and the whole Council to consider establishing an Equity Committee with a broad mandate to deal with intersecting issues on race relations, gender equity, LGBTTQ, immigration and refugee issues.

It is important that the new City Council sends a strong public message that the City Motto ‘Diversity our Strength’ includes, not just the important equity work taking place inside the public service, but also an official structure, championed by Council, that seeks valuable advice from community partners to ensure that the Motto becomes a reality in every corner of the City.

Thank you very much for your consideration of this letter.


Gary Pieters

Similar Submissions were also made by the following community leaders and organizations:


Forum on Policing In the Somali-Canadian Community

January 13, 2015

Forum on Policing In the Somali-Canadian Community: A Community Dialogue

The Forum presented by Positive Change Toronto in collaboration with the Urban Alliance on Race Relations, Labour and Community Services, and the 23 Division Somali Police Liaison Unit was a highly engaging community event and great strategies were shared by the 2 guest officers from the Minneapolis Police Department. Attendees at the event benefitted from the dialogue, idea generation and sharing that focused on better social outcomes in policing that would benefit the Somali-Canadian diaspora and our diverse city

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Date: Saturday, January 17, 2014
Time: 10:00 am – 1:00 pm, registration begins at 9:00 am
Location: Woodbine Banquet Hall – 30 Vice Regent Blvd.

Purpose: While Toronto is not Minneapolis, there is a lot of practical knowledge that can be taken away from the success of Minneapolis Police Department’s engagement with the Somali-American community. The Toronto-Minneapolis Officers’ Exchange Program will offer Minneapolis Police Department the opportunity to spend 4 days with the Toronto Police Service and observe policing in the Canadian-Somali community.
This forum seeks to encourage mutual learning regarding neighbourhood policing between the American-Somali community and the Canadian-Somali community.

Keynote Speaker: Sgt. Mohamed Abdullahi from Minneapolis Police Department


09:30 – 10:00 am Arrival registration refreshment
10:00 – 10:15 am Opening ceremony and welcome
Quran recitation
Urban Alliance on Race Relations Intro
Deputy Chief Peter Sloly to welcome guest on behalf of Toronto Police Service
Chair Dr. Alok Mukherjee to welcome guest on behalf of Toronto Police Services Board
10:15 – 10:20 Faduma Mohamed to introduce the keynote speaker
10:20 – 10:50 Keynote address by Sgt. Abdullahi
11:00 – 11:45 Panel Discussion (4 panelists x 15min each)
Policing Perspective: SLU sergeant Brett McFarquer
Youth Perspective: Zack Omar
Parent Perspective: Ayan from Dixon
Research Perspective: Sharon Simpson
Moderator: Idil Burale
11:45 – 12:45 Q&A
12:45 – 1:00 Closing Remarks – Faduma Mohamed


2014 in Review

December 31, 2014

We extend appreciation to everyone including our collaborating partners, supporters, members and the general public who attended our public events. Our events including: the AGM, public forums, presentations, deputations, attendance at social justice events, video screenings, and awards dinner were meaningful, purposeful, relevant, engaging and effective in the public interest of advancing positive race relations in the GTA and beyond. Our goals were achieved, but we have much more to do – and we look forward to your continued support in 2015!

2015 will be the 40th Anniversary of the UARR and we encourage you to keep visiting this site for an even more exciting social media presence that celebrate our past and look ahead to our future in championing harmonious relations and social cohesion across the full diversity of Toronto and its intersections.

The UARR website was viewed over 25,000 times in 2014. Thanks to everyone who supported us and visited our social media and digital networks including our website, Twitter and Facebook for up to date information on compelling issues of the day pertaining to equity, diversity, inclusion, human rights, social justice, police accountability and gender-based violence prevention in Canada and beyond.

Gary Pieters, President, Urban Alliance on Race Relations

Enjoy the slideshow of selected photos from our community engagement in 2014

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UARR Deputation at TPSB meeting

December 15, 2014


Good afternoon everyone. Thank you Mr.Chair, members of the Board, Mr. Mayor, for this opportunity to speak. I am Jason Merai, Executive Director for the Urban Alliance on Race Relations and supported beside me is Mr. Audi Dharmalingam, Board member.

For the last 39 years the Urban Alliance on Race Relations has advocated on issues of anti-racism on behalf of communities. We are here today, to express our concerns like so many others, that police carding reforms have not been initiated.

It is extremely disturbing that Police carding has been used to systematically discriminate against persons of Black and Brown skin. From the Toronto Police service we have learnt it is a function for keeping people accountable. In fact, we would agree that it is an issue of accountability. It is a process for ensuring the Toronto Police Service is accountable to Toronto citizens.

As a new board there is a unique and real opportunity to make a bold statement at the offset of your inauguration:

Implement the community contact policy.

By doing so you will emphasize the importance of personal rights for those who are stopped by the police. Moreover, you will create an atmosphere of respect. At this time, people avoid the police. Yet the Toronto Police Service is here to serve and protect citizens. Instead, racialized people are accosted and accused of being linked to crimes.

This conversation has happened before? Many communities find it difficult to establish trust with the police services but what about the Police Services Board? How do you plan to ensure that this new community contact policy is being implemented and that members of the police service don’t abuse the power they posses? The CAPP report served as an adequate accountability mechanism but what are the next steps to ensure progress is not lost and abandoned?

Will the Police Service Board have 1) a finite definition of public safety to determine when an officer can voluntarily approach someone? and 2) can people know their rights from the police officer, including that they are free to walk away?

The Urban Alliance on Race Relations supports the findings of the CAPP report, understanding that the work of monitoring and researching how police implement this policy is an ongoing need for improving community-police relations. We encourage you to continue with Community Based Research so that this policy can be monitored ‘on the ground’, at the grassroots level.

Community policing should also focus on equitable community safety. The police need the citizens to trust them just as much as the citizens need to have trust in the police.

Deputation was prepared by Executive Director Jason Merai, Board Members Malika Mendez & Audi Dharmalingam. It can be viewed at 34:40 

December 15 – TPSB Meeting

December 13, 2014

Community policing issues and oversight leadership are top on the agenda of the upcoming Toronto Police Services Board meeting on December 15th.

We urge all with an interest in these issues to attend and to participate as the agenda allows.

Detailed Agenda

TORONTO: The next scheduled meeting of the Toronto Police Services Board will take place on Monday, December 15, 2014 at 1:30 PM in the Auditorium, 40 College Street. Copies of the agenda are available on the Board’s website at from the Board office and limited copies will be available at the meeting. To view the Board meeting via web stream, use the link on the Board’s website, or go to Rogers TV. Items of interest include:

Dr. Alok Mukherjee, Chair, will administer the oath of office and the oath of secrecy to Mayor John Tory, who has taken his seat on the Toronto Police Services Board and will serve for the term of Council and to Councillors Shelley Carroll and Chin Lee who were appointed to the Board by Toronto City Council for two-year terms.

The Board will consider the report by LogicalOutcomes entitled “A Community- Based Assessment of Police Contact Carding in 31 Division- Final Report (the “CAPP” report). This report was deferred at the November 13, 2014 public meeting. Chief Blair will provide the Toronto Police Services’ assessment of the CAPP report.

The Board will consider a report from Maureen Brown, Diversity Trainers Plus Inc. who conducted the community consultations conducted across the GTA on the hiring of a new police chief.

The Board will consider a report from Chief Blair providing an update with respect to the jury recommendations from the Coroner’s inquest into the deaths of Reyal Jardine-Douglas, Sylvia Klibingaitis, and Michael Eligon.


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