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July 3, 2015

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Scrap, Don’t Reform, Carding

June 30, 2015

Re: Carding a racist blot on the Canadian landscape, Opinion June 19

Carding a racist blot on the Canadian landscape, Opinion June 19

The Urban Alliance on Race Relations supports the community groups that are calling for the elimination of “carding” in its entirety. “Carding,” or “Intelligence-led policing,” call it what one will, is a corrosive and atrocious practice and a blot on a city that is multi-racial and multi-ethnic.

The process of stopping and questioning a preponderance of young black and brown men is unfair, unjust and intimidating. It is even more unjust to retain details of these non-criminal interactions in a database, which comes back to haunt and taint the lives of these young people.

We support the purging of this data. In addition, any interaction with innocent individuals should respect Charter rights; thus citizens must be proactively informed at the outset of the interaction that in the absence of any criminal investigation, they are not required to answer police questions.

Further if information is exchanged between an individual and the police and retained for collection in a database, the individual stopped by the police should receive a carbon copy of the information recorded.

In order to improve relations between the police and Toronto residents, these recommendations should be implemented immediately. They are essential to not only rebuilding trust in any dialogue between communities and the Toronto Police Service, but also restoring full, fair and equal respect for all Torontonians’ human rights and civil liberties under the Charter and Ontario’s Human Rights Code.

Nigel Barriffe, President, Urban Alliance on Race Relations

Sent in to the Toronto Star.

March for Jobs, Justice, and the Climate

June 29, 2015


The March for Jobs, Justice and the Climate is coming up on July 5 at 1:00 pm. The march will commence at Queen’s Park, and will finish at Allen Gardens with food, speakers, and performances from 4:00pm to 6:30 pm.

There are four quadrants to the march:
Racialized groups, Indigenous peoples, migrant and gender justice groups, frontline workers, and communities against gentrification will lead the first quadrant.
The second quadrant will consist of a group of precarious workers, faith groups, labour unions, non-unionized workers, caregivers, and anti-poverty organizations.
Thirdly, there will be a crowd of students and youth, affordable housing advocates, clean energy groups, public transit advocates, food justice and food security groups, cyclists, and alternative transportation groups.
Finally, there will be a quadrant of dirty energy and pipeline fighters, fracktivists, no nukes organizers, corporate campaigners and mining justice activists.

This is the story of a new economy that is hoped to be created: “It starts with justice, creates good work, clean jobs and healthy communities, recognizes that we have solutions and shows we know who is responsible for causing the climate crisis.”

It’s been endorsed by No One is Illegal, Urban Alliance on Race Relations, Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, Greenpeace, People’s Climate, Canadian Federation of Students – over 80 sponsoring agencies and groups thus far.

If anyone is interested in marshaling, they are asking for volunteers to arrive at Queen’s Park by 10:30am on July 5th and to undergo training at the Steelworkers Hall, 25 Cecil St. on one of the following dates and times:

  • Sunday, June 28th, 2PM-5PM
  • Thursday, July 2nd, 6PM-9PM
  • Saturday, July 4th, 10AM-1PM

Organizers are asking that any group participating in the march who wishes to have a spokesperson available pass on their contact information and arrive at Queen’s park between 11:30 and 12:30 to do interviews with press before the march starts.

There will be an interfaith group meeting at noon before the march as well.

For more information or to volunteer, please visit the March for Jobs, Justice and the Climate website.


Share Your Views on Racial Profiling

June 25, 2015

The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) is developing a policy on preventing racial profiling– and we need your help.

Please consider filling out our Human Rights and Racial Profiling survey (by September 30, 2015),and sharing it with your networks and peers. We want to hear from individuals and organizations on what racial profiling means to them, how it is experienced in the community, its root causes, and challenges and success stories on preventing it.

For more about the context and development of an OHRC racial profiling policy, see Towards a new OHRC policy on racial profiling. We also encourage you to consider submitting a proposal for a paper on racial profiling in your area of expertise for potential publication and presentation at an OHRC policy dialogue on racial profiling in early 2016 (for more information, see the OHRC Call for Papers).

Your feedback and responses to this survey will help us as we draft the policy.


Ontario Human Rights Commission

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“… for my long walk is not ended…” Spirit of Mandela Freedom Walk an Inspirational Success.

June 22, 2015

Spirit of Mandela Freedom Walk Planning Committee and Volunteers


SpiritWind Womens’ Hand Drum Group


UARR Representatives with His Excellency Membathisi Mdladlana, High Commissioner of South Africa, and Consul General of South Africa, Nyameko Goso

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On a beautiful Saturday afternoon, on June 20th, a crowd began to gather on Nelson Mandela Boulevard (University Avenue) with Native drumming provided by SpiritWind Women’s Hand Drum Group and South African drumming done by Muhtadi African Drums Ensemble, setting the mood for the day’s celebration. This celebration marked the 1st Annual Spirit of Mandela Freedom Walk, concluding at Queen’s Park. The walk’s purpose was to bring the community together to share in the commitment to a common goal of an inclusive society that is free from discrimination, where all persons enjoy full rights to dignity, fair treatment and equal opportunities. This is what Mandela stood for, and this is what a great amount of people were walking for on Saturday.

The ceremony that took place at the end of the walk was hosted by former Canadian Idol judge, Farley Flex. In order to pay tribute and and show respect to the Mississaugas of the New Credit, for it was their ancestral land that this celebration took place, and in honour of National Aboriginal Day on Sunday, June 21st, an Aboriginal prayer and blessing was offered by Andrew Wesley of the Moose Cree First Nation. In addition, there were special performances of both the Canadian and South African national anthems, performed by the Nelson Mandela Park Public School Choir. This choir also performed a song in dedication to Nelson Mandela called “Dream”.

The speakers that were present for this celebration included Hon. Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario, as well as the Mayor of Toronto John Tory. His Excellency Membathisi Mdladlana, High Commissioner of South Africa offered a powerful speech, as well as the former Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, Hon. David C. Onley. Speeches also included keynote speaker Akua Benjamin, social activist and professor at Ryerson University, as well as the Chair of Mandela Legacy Canada, Lloyd McKell. In addition to these speakers, the growing crowd in Queen’s Park was entertained by top acts, including singer/songwriter Amanda Martinez, spoken word artist Dwayne Morgan, hip hop artist Najjah Calibur, Juno award winning Aboriginal band Digging Roots, and singer/songwriter Lorraine Klaasen.

For more information on this successful and inspired event, or on Mandela’s legacy in Canada, please visit the Mandela Legacy Canada website.

“I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended.” – Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (1918-2013)


#MandelaWalkTO – Why we are walking today

June 20, 2015


Today Toronto make’s history. As a gathered community of schools across the GTA, non-profit organizations, businesses, unions and civic leaders, we will walk together to commemorate Nelson Mandela and the principles for which he held steadfast. 

As a member of the planning committee, it has been an honour to work with Lloyd McKell whose vision unfolds this afternoon. Under Lloyd’s leadership and with dedicated supporters, the city of Toronto mobilized to ceremoniously rename University Avenue to Nelson Mandela Boulevard. As well, Lloyd was instrumental in bringing Madiba to visit Canada, and together, we will walk where Madiba once had, from Armoury street starting at 12pm and end at Queen’s Park for performances and speeches.
While we look to honour one of the greatest leaders of our time, today’s Freedom Walk is to celebrate the principles of building a society free of discrimination, a place where human rights and dignity is respected and that people can live carefree of abuse and oppression.
Yet it is also a day to honour hope. Without it, how does a leader survive 27 years in jail? How does a movement inspire not only South Africans but individuals, communities and nations across the entire world?
The road to achieving social justice is never easy. But like Madiba, it is well worth the long walk.
“A fundamental concern for others in our individual and community lives would go a long way in making the world the better place we so passionately dreamt of”

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela

Join us in solidarity: #MandelaWalkTO
– Executive Director, Jason Merai


Concert and Presentations to Follow the Spirit of Mandela Freedom Walk

June 19, 2015

Mandela Concert

Following the Spirit of Mandela Freedom Walk on Saturday, June 20 there will be a live concert in Queen’s Park, beginning at 1:30 pm!
The concert features top performers such as Digging Roots, 2010 Juno Award winner for Aboriginal Album of the Year, singer-songwriter Amanda Martinez, Lorraine Klaasen, the eclectic South African Canadian performer, hip hop artist, Najjah Calibur, and spoken-word artist, Dwayne Morgan.
The Hon. Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario, John Tory, Mayor of Toronto, His Excellency Membathisi Mdladlana, High Commissioner for South Africa, Hon. David Onley, former Lieutenant Governor of Ontario will bring greetings.
Akua Benjamin, veteran social justice activist of Toronto will be our keynote speaker. The event emcee will be Farley Flex.
There is still time to register for this event! Please register here.


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